My Rant on Lack of Communication
In today’s episode: We discuss how the lack of communication can kill your small business. I begin with a rant of how 4 local small businesses might lose my business due to making me look like a fool with my client by their lack of communication.
Here are the Show Notes from the Episode:
**keep in mind that show notes are raw and only highlight what is in the episode. Listen to the show for the full content**
Episode 36 – How Lack of Communication Can Kill Your Business
The Local Small Business Coach
My Rant on Power Communication from Business Owner to Business Owner
Welcome to the local small business coach a podcast I am your coach Tammy Adams and in today’s episode I want to do a teaching moment and a little rant if you are up to listening to me. So what is it that I want to rant about?
As a real estate agent, I get to work with a lot of local small businesses. They not only help get our clients ready to sell, but they solve issues after an offer. They also do things that are part of the sale and critical for a successful closing. During the past few years, I have discovered some wonderful amazing folks that I do business with. They help me with all aspects of my business. I know that if I call them up or recommend them to my customers or clients they’re going to do a fantastic job for them.
And while I love these folks to death and I love the excellent job they do, the one thing they do that drives me absolutely batty and for the lack of a better way of saying it, pisses me off to no end, is their horrible communication skills at times.
Now I’m not talking about having a dialogue one-on-one with each other, that’s not the problem. The problem is, when I reach out to them, whether it’s through email, text or phone they cannot seem to communicate back that they even have received the message and that they’re going to reach out to the client or to myself. So I am left hanging and come across as needy if you will when I keep trying to find out the status of my message. By the way, needy wasn’t the word I was going to originally use. Lets just say it starts with a B and rhymes with witch.
Now I’m going to give a great example of this and what is causing this rant today. I am working on a deal right now and it involves four different local businesses to accomplish the final pieces to close my deal. Actually, my first vendor got back to me right away. He told me the day he was going out and when I could expect to hear he was completed. The other three businesses did not answer me within 24 hours. So now I had to reach out to them again. Two of them still did not reach back within another 24 hours but the other one sent me a text to tell me he already did it. Now remember, he never even told me he was going out. Was I was excited that they did it? Yes, but since I didn’t know he was going out, I had just told the owner, that I was still waiting. Now I had to reach back out and look like an idiot that it was already done.
Ok, so two down and two to go. It has now been 48 hours and two messages and still now answer. By the way, I owed the lender and update on these two items and I needed to get them the date the work will get done. Plus, I also need to let the other agent know the status. So, as of this moment, I look like I don’t know what is going one with the businesses that I recommended. These people trusted my judgement so you can imagine how frustrating this lack of communication it.
Now you might be wondering why on earth I continue to do business with folks that have horrible communication skills? And during weeks like this, I often wondered that myself. And to be honest if they didn’t do such a great job and if I didn’t know they would take really good care of my customer or client then I probably wouldn’t use them at all. Plus in some cases, if I knew I had better options I would probably switch.
The reason that I’m sharing this with you today is because I think this is a critical lesson that all service-based businesses really need to understand. Lesson number one, you don’t have to like email. You do not have to like text messaging. You don’t have to like the phone for that matter. But what you do have to like, is the fact that this is how business is done today and if you want to continue to get people’s business you need to communicate with them. Your clients need to know what is going on. Seriously how long does it take to send a message back saying “I got your message & I’ll get back with you” or even “Got your message about next Thursday?”
Communicating is Easy in Today's World
Now I understand that you might be out in the field doing jobs when I send you the initial message. So I don’t expect somebody to get back with me at that very moment, but I do expect an answer within 24 hours. Which brings us to lesson number two…
You need to identify a time that you will respond to your text messages ,your emails and your phone calls. If you can’t do them live while in the field, then you need to set aside time to get back with people either at night when you start to wrap up your business or in the morning first thing before you start new business. I understand that days are long and you’re tired but you need to keep that sales funnel going. You need to keep your relationships strong. Especially if your business depends upon word-of-mouth from past clients. If you recall back in episode 11 I discussed how partnering with a real estate agent can double your sales. But it will not double your sales if you don’t communicate with them!
I have seen way too many small business owners stunt their growth by not recognizing the importance of communication. Now I can understand if you have way more business than you can handle then maybe you don’t care if people can get a hold of you or not. I think it’s a very poor business practice for you to treat people that way but I also know that some people don’t care. I also know that some people have no problem being rude to people and yet they keep getting business.
Do I think that these small business owners are getting back to me because they have way more business than they can handle? I’m not sure. One probably does, but at the same time, they are one of the few in town to do this business so maybe that is why they just don’t care. To make matters worse, if you get a hold of her at the office, you get met with an attitude. Nothing drives me nuts, more than giving an attitude to somebody who’s not giving an attitude to you. I think it’s very rude. And if I had options I can guarantee you, you would not be my go to person. The challenge is, as much as they drive me nuts, they are still better than my other options that has the same issue plus more. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
For the other business, I’m waiting on, the way communication problem is not just with their clients but also with their employees which brings us to lesson number three.
Communicating with Your Team Members
Another problem I see with poor communication is how these business owners communicate with their teams. I have witnessed poor communication with a business owners’ employees or team members. Remember if your employees don’t know what your expectations are, how on earth are they ever going to meet your expectations. You might recall when we were talking about turnover, that people hate not knowing what’s going on. The reason they don’t know what’s going on is because of the lack of communication. They become frustrated when they either don’t know what to do or they are on the receiving end of an upset client or customers due to not knowing something.
I’ll give you an example of something that happens in small businesses that have employees when it comes to lack of communication. By the way this also happens in larger companies as well. Let’s use a simple example of schedule changes. I have seen employees in so much trouble because somebody change their schedule and no one told the employee. Now don’t get me wrong, employees change their schedule all the time and failed to tell management. I get that, but it happens just as much the other way around where a manager or leader makes the schedule change and fails to communicate it.
They assume that this employee will look at the schedule and see that it was changed. Well guess what? Not every employee looks at the schedule on a daily basis, so unless that is your process or your policy, most people will write down their schedule and move on. You need to communicate it.
Another way this happens is, a manager decides to either start a promotion. They run an ad but fail to tell the employees. Now a customer shows up expecting the discount but are charged full price and goes off on the employee who is clueless as to what they are talking about. You guessed it, the manager or owner failed to communicate to their team this change.
How Do You React to Poor Communication
I want you to step back and think about the frustrations that you get and how frustrated you find yourself personally being when you are on the receiving end of poor communication. Doesn’t just drive you nuts? Of course it does!
Keep in mind that our communication a lot of times has a snowball effect. For example let’s go back to my beginning rant when I was talking about the various vendors that I am trying to set up for my client. Here I am trying to give business to four different local small business owners. As part of my process, I will need to communicate the status of these items to a buyer, a seller, a lender, a Title company and to another agent. So there are five people at minimum that I have to communicate the status of each of these items.
When I don’t have the communication, I need to keep everyone in the loop, I now pass along to these 5 people that I’m still waiting. That I still don’t know. So now my reputation is on the line as a poor communicator. Which is far from the truth. While I communicate that I’ve been in contact with these people and I just haven’t gotten an answer, I feel bad because I’m throwing them under the bus when the reality is I’m just trying to communicate the current status of the situation. So you can say that this is lesson number four. Your poor communication has a trickle-down effect that impacts multiple people
Lesson #5 of Lack of Communication
Finally, I want to talk about lesson number five. I think it is critical that you always remember that your communication skills will have a direct impact on your sales and profits. If you are not motivated by how communication impacts how people, see you. If you are not motivated by how people perceive your company. If you don’t care how frustrated, you make other people whether it is your employees or your customers fine. Then you need to be motivated by the fact that you are costing yourself sales and profits.
So lesson 5 is about you learning how critical it is that you understand your poor communication is hurting your sales and profits. If nothing else motivates you, your bottom line is taking a hit which means you’re taking less money home due to your poor communication. Is that something you can live with?
If you want to grow you bottom line, then you need to head back to lesson two. You need to come up with a process that you can use with in your business to communicate to the various people who are reaching out to you and your business. You need to do this either immediately, at the end of the day or beginning. You also need to pick what that method (email, text or call) is best for your clients to use. Make sure if you have a reoccurring client, that they know this preferred method and what they can expect.
Listen, communication is critical in your business.
It ensures that people are doing their job correctly. It ensures that your customers and clients know exactly what is going on and what they can expect from you. So please look in the mirror and analyze your current communication.
Are you leaving your clients and employees frustrated? Are you begging them to quit and move on to someone else? Are you losing sales and profits? If you can’t say you pride yourself on your awesome communication, then I can guarantee you that you have opportunity!
Thank you for listening to my rant for the day. I probably should do more of these because some of you probably will enjoy me being on a rant but hopefully more than anything you will take away how serious I am about this subject. How critical it is in your business. And how you can learn a lesson from these vendors, these local small business owners that I’m dealing with right now.
I’d like to tell you this is a first time thing for all of them but the reality is it is not. I have been putting up with this for a long time and I may have to seek new solutions and while I might be one person, please know that I have referred these people out on multiple occasions. I praise them and their work to my customers and clients and if I do find other avenues in the future, they not only lose me, but they also lose out on all those referrals. Maybe they don’t care and they probably don’t. I think that is sad, because I feel every small business owner needs to care about every single one of their customers and clients. They need to feel it in their heart. They need to know why they’re doing it and how many people there helping.
Like I said, my issue is not with the quality of the work, they all do a fantastic job. My problem is their lack of communication. Because I will not look like an idiot to my customers and clients because of their poor communication. I want you guys to feel my frustration and ask yourself are you leaving your customers, your clients, your employees feeling as frustrated as I am coming across to you today? If you are, then you need to make some changes.
So with that, I am going to end this episode and I look forward to our next episode. Hopefully I’ll even give you an update on if they ever got back with me. Lol
By the way, I know being a local small business owner can be a lonely gig at times. But you don’t have to do it alone. Just know, I’m always here for you.
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Meanwhile, I wish you the best in your business and remember: Great Customer Service, coupled with Great business practices will set you on the path to Great Profits!
Bye for now…..
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Two Great Books to Help You With Your Small Business:
Highly Recommend all Local Small Business Owners Read the eMyth by Micheal Gerber. You will learn some critical things about running your business.
The second book is one I wrote based off a popular example I always use when folks are trying to understand their role as a leader with their people. Check it out.