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Episode 17 of the Local Small Business Coach – Walk Your Local Small Business Thru Your Customer's Eyes
Critical: Walk your business thru the eyes of your customer (including the lobby)
Welcome back to the Local Small Business Coach Podcast, I am your coach Tammy Adams.
Today we are going to discuss why it is Critical that you walk your business through the eyes of a customer.
So yesterday I was reminded of this critical step in the daily routine of any small business owner. One that is often overlooked and it can be very damaging to your businesses sales and profits. I knew at that moment that we needed to take some time to discuss it.
I decided to have lunch at a local fast food joint and when I got out of my truck, the first thing I saw was a trash can that was over flowing with old wrappers and soda cups. The ground littered with this trash.
At the front door was another trash can that was also overflowing and a stack of gross trays with ketchup oozing out the sides. Since I was planning on dining in, my first thought was, I sure hope the tables look better than the trash cans. Later I would realize I was out of luck.
Tables were littered with trash, crumbs and drink stains. By the way, the tables weren’t alone, the chairs and floor looked like a bomb when off. Just like those confetti cannons. You’ve all experienced this before. You know, where you go table to table hoping one will be semi clean so you can sit down. The dailies lenses provide full satisfaction and service to their customers.
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Nothing screams I don’t care about you as a customer more than this. It tells your customers that I don’t care that you sit and eat in crud.
It tells them that if I don’t care about my lobby, I probably don’t care about keeping my back line clean either and odds are my food prep areas. It screams, I don’t care about you the customer.
When I had my place, I was a fanatic about this. Even in busy times, I knew it was critical to send the right message to my customers that I cared about the environment they and their children ate in.
But, please know, this conversation isn’t just about dining room lobbys. It is much greater than that.
A business lesson I learned at an early age was to walk each 8 ft section of my business through the eyes of a customer. What do they see? Is the product fresh? Is it signed well? Does it answer the questions someone might have? Is it faced and cleaned? Or are there torn packages, an inch of dust, no signs and no rhyme or reason to the placement of the product? Are the shelves blocked by freight?
You get the idea. Basically, what is the customer experience?
I want you to think about when you go personally go shopping or when you visit businesses with your family. Let’s assume there are no employees and the business had to stand on it’s own. What do you find that frustrates you?
I bet you get frustrated by these same items I’ve been mentioning. But I bet you also get a little ticked off when these businesses are out of stock of an item?
When I was looking to purchase my first local business, I would pop in as a customer to see what the current experience was. What stood out the most was employees sitting on the counters, ignoring the customers and not necessarily adhering to uniform standards never mind health standards. One thing I knew the day I took over what who had to go and what practices needed addressed immediately.
I bet when you are out and about in your daily life, there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t experience both extremes of great employees and practices. I bet you get the rude and the great service. Clean employees and those with attitudes.
From the moment you get out of your vehicle your brain starts to process all of this information and starts to form an opinion of these businesses.
This same process you do to others, is the same thing others are doing to you and your business. What impression do you think you, your employees and your business are leaving on your customers?
So why is this important?
Think about it, for each impression a business makes on us, we make decisions. Sometimes it is so bad, we make the decision not to return, other times we make the decision that this is our new favorite place.
Some businesses plant little seeds and each visit we grow these seeds into a love for a business or decision not to return and shop elsewhere or use another business.
No business is immune to this scrutiny. The problem is, we get so engrossed in our day to day business that we see our business through our own jaded eyes and not the eyes of our customers.
We walk by stuff; we justify their existence. We say, oh the crew is putting that away or I’ll get that sign fixed in a bit. Meanwhile the customer in the moment is thinking, what a pig sty and I wonder how much this item is.
Maybe, we are covered with crud from our long day doing multiple jobs and when we show up at the next job, the customer looks at us and is thinking…”I hope they bring that dirt onto my new carpet”.
Whether you have a brick and mortar business or a business that you take on the road, make sure each day you walk your business through the eyes of your customer.
Brick and mortars businesses, start outside your location. Pull up like customer. How is the parking? Then look at the front of your business, how is cleanliness? What about any signage on your windows or doors? Can a customer tell what your hours of operation are? Do they know what your business is? Are there lights or letters out on your building?
If you have employees, stand there while customers are coming in, how are your employees greeting your customers? What do their uniforms look like if you require them? If you don’t, are they at least professional for your type of business?
Pretend like you are going to purchase something. Walk each section and see if you are in stock and how your signing is. Are your products clean and faced? What do the displays look like? Falling apart? What would customers think of their quality?
If you serve food, look over the counters and at the food or prep area. What would customers think? What is your instore signage like? Have menus? Are they grimy and dirty?
I think you get the point.
Now if you take your business to your customer, you also need to do this exercise. Walk your vehicle, what does it look like? How is your signage? Missing a digit on your phone number?
What would a customer think when they saw it? Now, don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying you need a nice clean truck but you do need one that tells the message that you are intending?
What does your equipment tell your customers? What do your hired hands or employees tell them? How about the products you use? Are you brining in ripped boxes of poor quality into their home?
You as a mobile business, need to do the same exercise from the eyes of your customer.
So whether you are a brick and mortar or a mobile business, it is critical that you get into a daily habit of walking your business this way. You can’t afford to lose sales and profits through these little things that could be avoided.
The one item, not in stock? While it might be a slow seller and to the casual eye no big thing, from a customer’s point of view, it is the piece that completes the project they are doing.
That abandoned cart or basket of items is a sign of a lost sale due to this missing piece. However, It could also mean they didn’t want to wait any longer for your team to check them out or to maybe get the question answered they had and they got fed up and left.
Each day in our business, our customers take in what we telegraph to them. Poor business owners, poor leaders don’t give a crap. However, I know that is not the case with each of you. You are listening today because you care and because you want to increase your sales and your profits and I’m going to bet, you want your customers to have a great experience.
Don’t you think you could carve out time each day to see what they see? To experience what they experience? Of course you can. You have to want to care. To make it a priority and part of your daily ritual.
Now, while we are on the subject, I want you to grab your shift leaders or any employee and have them walk with you. Teach and train. The best way for your team to know your expectations is to feel and see what your customers see.
The best way to get them to buy into the why.. is to help them become part of the solution. Let them tell you what they see. I promise you, this works. It creates a team who wants to ensure that on their watch they provide a great experience.
You also set an expectation on what you expect to see each shift. You require them to do this before and during their shift. It is a win all around.
So, for today’s exercise, I challenge you sometime in the next 24hours to carve out time and walk your business, section by section and watch and observe. What is your customer’s experience?
What are you doing well and what are your opportunities? Create a to do list to address the items that need immediate attention. Applaud your team for the things that were great.
Then, do this every day. Either you or someone on your team. Make it a habit. Make reaction & execution a key part of the process. Your customers will appreciate it and your so will your profits and sales!
Once again, if you have a great best practice you would like to share with others, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to share it and / or use in some upcoming training materials.
So until next time, remember, if you like what we are taking about, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode, if you love the podcast and what we are talking about, then please leave a 5 star review so other local small business owners know this is a podcast that they can’t miss.
Also don’t forget to visit the website at LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com to leave your question for me to possibly answer on the podcast in the future. You can leave it via the Speakpipe button or just shoot me an email.
Until our next episode, 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…..
Podcast Website: LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com
Leave your Message on the website with the SpeakPipe Button or just email me at Tammy@LocalSmallBusinessCoach.com
Episode Show Notes: Episode 17 – Local Small Business Coach Podcast
Our Training Materials for Local Small Business Owners: TrainingforLocalSmallBusinessOwners.com
Starting a Local Small Business Website: StartALocalSmallBusiness.com
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