The overall appearance of your small business plays a huge role in what clients think about you and your products or services. Even if your business storefront is hidden in an odd part of town, customers will come once word gets out that you have products and services that no one else provides. They will not come back a second time though if the sidewalk is spotted with litter, cigarette butts and they windows are streaked and covered in a layer of dust.
Everyone has an idea in their head as to how a certain type of store should look, smell and feel based on other stores they have been in as well as magazine and television portrayals. Your job as a small business owner is to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations without straying outside of the industry norms. Walk into your business while pretending to be a brand new customer and take note of the things that you like and dislike, then fix them.
A common complaint that we have all heard is “There were no prices on anything.” You do not want your customers telling all of their friends that they visited a really neat shop with lots of cool products, but they didn’t buy anything because there were no prices listed. Make sure your prices are fair for the products and services you are selling and list them on the shelves, products or wherever are the best for your business. It is better to have prices in too many places than not enough.
Ensure complete pricing, also. One of the biggest pet peeves of customers is when they find out the price they are looking at is only for half of the product or service. When you buy a computer you assume that it will come with a mouse and keyboard, if it does not – do not lie about it, post it and inform the client.
#3 Be Nice
It is amazing how many small business owners do not treat their employees well. You know the saying a person with a good experience will tell 5 friends and someone with a bad experience will tell 20? That is referring to one customer with one bad experience. If you are treating your employees badly or unfairly on a daily basis – I can guarantee they are telling their friends, family, significant others’ family, church members and people in line at the grocery store on a daily basis. That is a lot of bad publicity coming from someone people are more apt to believe because your employee knows you on more of a personal level than your regular Joe customer.
Being cheerful is not something all of us can do all the time but we all have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to our actions. If you vent at an employee because of something a client did – apologize afterward, it will mean the world to them. Also, don’t forget your janitor, suppliers, mail man and everyone else you come in contact with. Everyone is a potential customer.
#4 Openness & Honesty
Are you willing to let the entire city know your financial information? How about sharing everything that goes on behind closed doors? If not, I ask you to think long and hard and write down every reason why not. Answer the question: What am I trying to hide?
If you have something to hide from the public that you are serving – now is the time to make amends and fix the issues before they become a problem. If you do not have anything to hide, there is no better way to gain the trust of your current and potential customers, than by sharing that information openly and honestly.
For example: publish your profits in the local newspaper, make a flyer to give to customers with a detailed explanation on your pricing structure. People like to know where their money is going and that the prices they are paying are justified. A restaurant with cameras on the line and televisions in the dining area will ensure people that none of the “Kitchen horror stories” are happening to their food.