I’ve Never Seen a Hearse Pulling a U-Haul

Right! You can’t take it with you.

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

 

I’m a small business owner. They call folks like us ‘entrepreneurs’ and I’m damned proud to be one.

But no matter what they call us, we have a small business that we created, or was handed down to us, or we bought. It’s ours. And we get to do pretty much what we want with our business.

There are pitfalls of course, but there are pitfalls in every business. So that doesn’t scare me at all. I’d rather make less money and run my own business than have more business and do what someone wants me to do that I don’t like to do. Does that make sense to you?

So, I decided to make this article ‘semi-bulletproof’ if you will, for ‘that day.’ That day when we say, “It’s time.” Be it time to retire, time to slow down, time to sell, or just ‘time.’ Maybe just leave early. Take that trip of a lifetime.

While succession planning is critical in all small business, it is also critical to be sure the folks who stand by our side are well trained so we can feel comfortable taking time off. (The staff you hired to do the work.)

We worry what will happen if we aren’t in the office every day. We worry if our customers will be treated the way we know they should be. We worry if we can take time off for a golf game, let alone a true vacation.

Well, let me help you remove some of that worry.

If you can get a plan in place, even a mini plan, you can play golf; you can take a vacation; you can relax a little more. You can have ‘time’ for you because as the title of the article says, “We can’t take it with us.”

What plan, Nancy? What do you mean?

I mean the feeling that we, as owners, are the only people that can do ‘things.’ That we’re the only ones that know how to operate the business. How to do ‘everything.’ You know the feeling, I’m sure.

We may know how to do it better, yes, but we need to be sure those we have hired, put into place, and work with customers can do it at as well.

I’m betting one of the reasons you don’t take a lot of time out for yourself more is because you’re worried the others aren’t able to handle things as well as you. If you’re a true entrepreneur, you worry about that part a lot in my opinion.

So here goes: Put this checklist into place at your business. Make your folks accountable for the results. Have a meeting/get together once a week to be sure they understand what you need and want. It doesn’t need to be a long meeting – 15 to 20 minutes will be fine. (If you do make it longer, feed them – that always helps).

Put these ground rules into place, followed day in and day out by everyone. No exceptions! If you do . . . you will have more ‘time’ for YOU.

FACT: The best weapon for a small business against the BIG guys is customer service. It’s that simple.

We will pay more for better service! So, if you’re a small business owner and if you’re looking for ways to improve, and take more time off, read on.

Adapting and putting these easy steps into place will make your day, and more importantly, make the customer’s day a better experience. Once you feel everyone on your staff is on board, you’ll find yourself taking more ‘time’ for you. ‘Cuz remember, we can’t take it with us.

People Before Paperwork

When someone walks into your place of business, or calls you while you’re working on something, drop everything for that person. Remember, paper can wait, people should not. We’ve all been abused when we go shopping and have been ignored – – we know how that feels. Let’s not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork.

Rushing Threatens Customers

Sure, you may understand something quick, but rushing the customer along will only lead to them feeling intimidated and you won’t see them coming back to you. Take it easy. Remember, speed is not success! Trying to be “done” with a customer as quickly as possible is felt as being rude and uncaring. Take your time with each contact.

Company Jargon

Not everyone is as familiar with your industry as you are. Did you ever get a report from a company and not understand it? Some companies have company jargon that makes the CIA wonder what’s up. Be very careful not to use your own company jargon on your customers. You and your employees may understand it very well, but the customer may not. And you’ll only cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Spell things out for your customers. Don’t abbreviate. Above all, don’t use military language on civilians.

Don’t Be Too Busy to Be Nice

Hey, everyone’s busy! That’s what it’s all about. Being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude. Remember, you meet the same people going down as you do going up. They’ll remember you. (What’s worse than being busy? NOT being busy.)

“Uh huh” is not ‘Thank You’ — “There ya go” is not ‘You’re Welcome’

How often do you hear these slang phrases? We need to remember ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re welcome’ are beautiful words. The customer cannot hear them too often. However, if you’re telling your customers to “have a nice day,” please say it with meaning! I recently had a checkout clerk tell the FLOOR to have a nice day. She wouldn’t look at me. Make eye contact when you’re saying something nice.

Be Friendly BEFORE You Know Who It Is

There’s a good lesson to be learned here. The Telephone Doctor motto is: SMILE BEFORE you know who it is. It will earn you many classic customer service points. The customer needs to know you want to work with them, no matter who they are. Remember, sometimes it’s way too late to smile and be friendly after you know who it is.

If these 6 principles are put into place, you will have happy customers, your staff will be better trained, and you will have time to play golf, semi-retire, go on a vacation or whatever you want to do.

Remember customers have a choice. Don’t make them go elsewhere for better service.

This is one of the programs that can be presented be at one of your meetings – www.nancyfriedman.com.

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly

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