(I wrote this article for my friends at www.reconnectafrica.com – this article is reprinted here with kind permission)
When I work with young businesses I can’t help but think of my first training in customer service and sales.
I’m always amazed by how much easy low hanging business is lost by business owners skipping a simple that can and should be implemented every single day, and it costs nothing.
One of my first jobs was working as a waiter for a world-renowned Pizza restaurant chain. We were trained to follow a very set and proven procedure to ensure the very best customer experience. We were taught to greet customers within 30 seconds of them walking through the front door, seat them within two minutes, take their drinks and garlic bread order within five minutes, serve their drinks within seven minutes, serve their garlic bread within eight minutes and so on. But two of the most important money making rules that we had to follow was to ensure that 1) we made regular eye contact with our customers every time we walked through the restaurant, and 2) regularly asked our customers if they wanted their drinks topping up.
Have you ever been in a restaurant where you were frantically waving and calling the waiter to come by just so that you could order another drink or order some more bread or just simply asking for your bill? Frustrating right? I remember a recent situation when I was in a restaurant where it took me 15 minutes to get the attention of a waiter just so that I could order a drink. By the time I managed to get his attention, it was too late and I had to leave. So not only was I frustrated and thirsty, but the restaurant lost out on additional EASY business too.
What steps can you implement in your business that would equate to keeping eye contact with your customers? How many courtesy calls can you make this week just to see how they are getting on with your product or service? It takes little time and no money at all to do this yet the implication on your business is profound.
Following up regularly creates goodwill from your customer because you show that you care, and during that conversation you have the opportunity to offer additional products or services to your customer. Even if they’re not in a purchase mindset at that time they may know somebody that they want to recommend to you.
This is called the power of the follow up. This is is the number one easiest way to create additional income for your business, yet 95% of businesses don’t seem to have any kind of follow-up system in place.
The question I then get asked on this subject is how much follow-up is too much follow-up? The answer to that is…there is no such thing as too much follow-up. That doesn’t mean that you call your customer every three minutes, however calling them once or twice a week until you get hold of them is perfectly acceptable. If they are an existing customer of course, you will already have trust built up with them. If your follow-up becomes too much, you can trust that your prospect or customer will tell you to stop calling them. No harm done.
Studies have shown on average you need to follow up at least seven times before a customer or prospect places an order with you so it is a fatal business mistake to give up after the first telephone call. Think of my example of the restaurant. Have you ever been in a restaurant when the waiter came round two or three times asking you if you want some more drinks, but each time you say no because you are not thirsty, but then on the fourth time you say yes?
You see the waiter doesn’t know when you’re going to be ready to order more drinks but he keeps checking in with you until he hits a time that you are thirsty. This is no different to any other business. You need to keep contacting your customers and not only that, the customers actually expect you to do this.
A trap that many businesses get into is getting frustrated about business slowing down and constantly try to find new customers. The question I always ask is have you served your existing customers to the maximum? The answer is almost always “no, I have some other service or product that some of my customers have not bought from me yet”. If you already have existing loyal customers make it your priority on Monday morning to select five customers at random and give them a call to follow up and see how they’re doing.
Existing customers are also a great source of information if you’re developing a new product or service. Why not ask the opinion of your existing clients about the new service you’re rolling out and what they think about it and the price you are offering it at? Since they know you well and there is trust built up between you, you should hopefully get a good honest answer and be able to tweak your offering to maximise the chances of success.
It is always easier to get more business from existing customers, than getting new business from new customers. So take a look at your last year’s order book, and see who you can call or meet up for a coffee. Plan your follow up, get your diary out and actually write in the diary who you are going to call and when.
We hope you found this article useful, but remember it’s not the acquisition of knowledge that will generate you money, but the application of it. So if you found this article useful, then put it to Full Use, by grabbing your address book and diary, and get scheduling those follow up calls. I use a really simple to use piece of follow up software to ensure I keep on top of my follow up list. It’s so good in fact that we have partnered up with the company that provides the technology, and I am due to run a webinar with them where I will be demonstrating some simple follow up techniques, and how to use their technology to help keep up. Check them out: Contactually . It takes literally minutes to set up, and systemises all of your follow up integrating all of your email accounts, twitter, facebook and linkedin in one place – it’s truly unique I promise you.
Dedicated to your success!
P.S. Have you applied for your $5,000 educational grant for use towards coaching services? We have five grants available to be applied for every month. There are no fees to apply, autorenews and it never has to be repaid. Get yours here
P.P.S. Are you registered to attend our weekly Ask The Expert call, where you get to speak with me or one of my coaches, asking any questions you like on lead generation, converting customers, marketing strategies and any other challenges your business is facing?
Since 2007, we have been using an appointment-booking system called Appointment-plus, to book appointments with all our clients. It reduces no-shows, cancellations, and even follows up with clients regularly to make sure we stay on track. In fact in all the time we have been using the system, over 6 years, with over 1000 appointments, we have had less than 10 no-shows.
I was going to write an article on the system, but Eric Richard, Appointment-Plus‘s in-house PR guy, is far more eloquent! This system is fantastic for many businesses including:
Coaches – Personal Trainers – Chiropractors – Hair Salons and spas – Accountants – Careers departments – Consultants – Mechanics ….in fact anyone who books meetings by the hour, but have many many clients, will find this software a life-saver.
(This article, written by Eric Richard has been reproduced with kind permission from Appointment-Plus)
Salon Scheduling Software: The Way to Grow Business, Decrease ‘No-Shows’ – By Eric Richard
The ultimate goal of any salon owner or operator is to develop a successful business that provides stellar service to its customers and generates increasing revenue. But like other service-based small businesses, the ability to efficiently manage operations and streamline necessary processes can be a roadblock to reaching this goal.
This is especially true when it comes to managing appointments, which for many salons is a tedious and time-consuming task. But for those salons that have implemented online salon scheduling software, this one-time burdensome process is now a vehicle for increasing sales and running a more effective business.
A WAY TO GENERATE REVENUE
Salon appointment software takes the pain out of manually scheduling customer salon appointments by taking the process into “the cloud”, instead of relying on outdated methods such as taking appointments by phone and managing them in a paper appointment book. By cloud, we mean utilizing Internet technologies instead of programs confined to an individual desktop computer or network. Online salon scheduling software is securely housed on external servers and accessed and managed in the same manner as e-mail, social media pages or Web pages.
And it’s this characteristic that creates a tremendous value to salon operations, as it gives them the ability to automatically schedule customer appointments online, 24 hours a day.
Regardless of the type of business, today’s customers are utilizing their laptops, tablets and smartphones to connect with service providers. And they’re looking for more than just basic information. They want the ability to conduct transactions with the business, whether it’s purchasing an item, chatting with a business rep, or, in the case of salons, scheduling an appointment online when it’s most convenient for them.
Salon appointment software accomplishes this by giving salon owners and operators the ability to place a “Book Now” button or link on their business Web site, social media page, newsletter, e-mail or any other Web form. Once a customer clicks on the button or link, they instantly access a scheduler page that typically allows them to choose their stylist of choice, specific service, and day/time of the appointment.
Once booked, the system will automatically confirm the appointment details and send the customer a confirmation e-mail. The information is instantly registered within the system, without any action on the part of the salon staff.
This makes salon scheduling software a true customer benefit. It can also be a revenue-generator, as it enables a salon to stay open 24 hours a day. Many customers simply do not have the ability to pick up the phone during a salon’s normal business hours. Without an online scheduling solution, their options are limited. They must either leave a message and hope that a salon staffer will return their call or try to make time during their busy workdays. Either scenario has the potential for creating lost revenue, as convenience is key when it comes to service-based businesses. These same customers could quickly view availability and book their appointment times online if offered an online way to do that.
The result: more booked appointments, less staff time devoted to managing appointments, happier customers, and more revenue!
Another benefit of salon appointment software impactful to operations and revenue is its ability to dramatically reduce ‘no-shows’. As any salon owner or operator can attest to, filled appointment slots mean revenue, and when customers fail to make their appointments, the result in lost revenue, as that slot could have been filled by another customer. It also impacts staff assignments and pay, as missed appointments leave stylists with an empty chair and missed revenue.
Salon scheduling software is a no-show slayer, as it automatically sends a booked individual an e-mail or text message reminder prior to his or her scheduled appointment time. Not only is this a convenience for the scheduled person, studies show that it can decrease the no-show rate by as much as 75 percent.
This feature is dually-beneficial: customers are reminded of their appointment time, and businesses help reduce the dreaded no-show rate.
When it comes to properly managing appointments, salon owners shouldn’t leave it up to chance. Implementing salon appointment software takes strain of booking appointments out of the hands of salon staff and into an efficient online process.
Eric Richard is the senior public relations specialist for Appointment-Plus, an online appointment scheduler that has booked over 100 million appointments and reservations. Launched in 2001, Appointment-Plus was the industry pioneer in online scheduling software, utilizing the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model since its inception. Today, Appointment-Plus is the worldwide leader in mobile and online salon scheduling software with three million appointments booked every month and nearly a billion dollars in commerce conducted annually through its system. Its Scheduling Cloud API also enables larger organizations to build custom applications on the powerful Appointment-Plus engine, while its integrated Marketplace allows businesses to easily interface with Microsoft Outlook Calendar, Google Calendar, Constant Contact, QuickBooks and other popular business tools to help businesses and organizations manage their operations more effectively, productively and successfully.
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Eric_Richard
Original Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/7485319
Gill Hicks is a well respected NLP expert and Personal Professional Branding Expert, and it was through Gill that I first got involved with NLP.
Gill helps hundreds of people every year, maximise their chances of success in meetings by making massively important changes to the way they look, act and speak. Gill also runs her own personal branding business, called Positive Potential.
Like you, I was curious, to understand why dressing for success is so important, and how you can improve your chances of success in meetings just by wearing the right clothes. Gill agreed to take some valuable time out of her schedule, to share some of her pearls of wisdom with Eco Business Academy.
Here’s what Gill had to say:-
Eco Business Academy: Gill, Firstly thank you so much for taking the time out to share your views and your experience with Eco Business Academy’s readers. Gill, can you explain to us what an Personal Professional Branding Expert is and why we all need one?”
Gill Hicks: I’d like to start by saying we don’t all need one, Jason! We are born with ‘perfect dress sense’ and it is this dress sense that tells us when we have made the right purchases – they are the items we love wearing, they make us feel good and more confident. Some people are really in touch with this dress sense – they love and wear everything they buy and they always look good.
For most, it is the 80/20 rule, they wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time – it is these people who would really benefit from a consultation. Not only is this type of wardrobe a huge waste of money, but the biggest waste is people going around much of the time feeling very mediocre – what a waste of life! An Image Consultant will demonstrate a wide range of colours, styles, accessories, and textures to harmonise with their client’s colouring, shape, personality and lifestyle so the client can then confidently purchase items that will appeal to their dress sense, will make them feel and project an air of greater confidence.
The image consultant should give advice on dressing appropriately for their client’s working environment and career aspirations. If you have any doubts, then a consultation would be a very sensible investment, reaping huge financial rewards by raising the chances of converting prospects to customers more quickly.
EBA: You work with a wide variety of professionals, and I’m sure there are certain expectations depending on which industry someone is working in. Perhaps it might be useful for our readers to see some contrasting stories, for instance someone in financial services, and someone in Information Technology. What are some common themes?
Gill: Yes, I have worked with thousands of individuals from a huge range of industries. Well within Financial Services there are obviously a wide range of cultures – from back office to front office, traders to H.R. etc and from private banking, hedge funds, investment banking, retail banking and so on. An appropriate style of dress is slightly different amongst all of these, so what could I helpfully say is a fairly common theme?
I see a number of people dressing at a level they have come from rather than investing in the level they are aspiring to. Think of the Tesco Value range packaging versus their Finest range – we believe the quality of the packaging reflects the quality of the product inside – we respond to people in much the same way, it is quite simple really.
So up the quality and aim to dress to the ‘highest common denominator’ for the audience’s culture and prepare to try on dozens of suits until you find one that really makes you feel great – or ideally go for made to measure.
I.T. is another story altogether! I think it is fair to say that appearance will be less influential in meetings for technical, non managerial meetings than in almost any other sector I can think of. However, a good ‘technician’ is somebody who has a certain amount of creativity, is results focused and detail conscious – so think of trying to reflect these qualities in your appearance with particular attention to a high level of maintenance (i.e. everything clean, polished and contemporary).
The common theme I have noticed amongst the IT profession is poor attention to detail in their appearance.
EBA: (Adjusting my tie and checking my hair) Great thanks Gill, that’s really interesting stuff. What sort of motivating feedback from clients can you share with us, after they have come to see you for a consultation? How does it help inner confidence and results in meetings?
Gill: I have a stackful of letters from clients – I keep them all! I hear that not only have clients received far more rapid success than they could have imagined, but the thing I love is hearing how confidence levels have soared – it always gives me a little shiver, and of course it impacts on every part of their lives.
It is difficult to attribute meeting success directly with a client’s consultation, but since first impressions happen within a couple of seconds, and having talked to possibly hundreds of ‘interviewers/prospective purchasers’, I can confirm that in many instances a decision as to ‘this one looks very promising’ or ‘this is going to be a waste of time’ is frequently taken instantly they see the candidate — before the meeting has ‘officially begun’ and that first impression really impacts on what the prospect then ‘hears’.
Appearance and body language is all they have to go on at that first impression stage, so appearance is crucial.
EBA: Wow, well we had better make sure we get it right then. As I’m sure many people reading this won’t have the opportunity to meet with you in time for their next presentation meeting, can you give us two crucial dos and don’ts, that will have an immediate impact?”
Gill: Do have a good clear out of the wardrobe, discarding or putting to one side anything that you wouldn’t want to wear on a ‘good day’. Check you have enough really ‘feel good’ items to be able to ring the changes for up to 3 presentations with the same firm, and diarise what you have worn where as it is easy to forget if you are meeting with several prospective clients.
Don’t wait until you are called for a meeting to race out to the shops and buy something new – it will almost certainly be a mistake if bought in haste. You WILL get meetings, so do some research shopping first and don’t get tempted by buying too early with an ‘it will do’ attitude wait to you find something that makes you feel great.
EBA: We’ll all take your advice Gill! Finally, if someone wanted to find out more about your services, do you have a website they can visit, or a way they can contact you to ask a question or three?
Gill: I’d be delighted to answer any questions and can be emailed on [email protected] and they can go https://www.gillhicks.co.uk
Thank you Jason, and good luck to all your followers!
EBA: Thanks Gill, I’m sure they all appreciate the advice! I’m off to clear out my wardrobe! Now where are those leather trousers…….?
Today we have an interview with presentations expert Beth Harvey, who I often send clients to for a presentation masterclasses. Here is what Beth had to say about what to do and what not to do to make a winning presentation in interview.
Eco Business Academy: Hi Beth, thanks for sparing some of your valuable time to share some pearls of wisdom with our readers. Why don’t you start by telling everyone how you became to be the ‘presentations guru’ and why this has become such a passion of yours?
Beth: My first ever presentation as a management trainee, longer ago than is appropriate to share, was probably the most terrifying experience I had ever had. But I persevered, and eventually learned to love it, so much so that I ended up training and presenting for a living. It’s a passion for me because I firmly believe that presentations are just conversations with groups of people and don’t have to be huge ordeals – and I’d rather other people reached that conclusion earlier in their careers than I did! Consequently, I really enjoy working with people of all ages, levels of seniority and backgrounds to help them enjoy their presentations, regardless of subject matter.
EBA: Fascinating! Okay, to get everyone started, perhaps you can tell us a couple of stories. One of a particularly great presentation, and one of a badly prepared presentation. What made them so good or so bad?
Beth: A professor of positive psychology at a conference delivered the best presentation I have seen recently. The worst was a results presentation to City analysts. What was fascinating for me was that although the content in the latter was (arguably) better composed, the presenters approached their audience as “the enemy”. In the first one, the whole session felt like a conversation with a very large group of friends. What both sessions reinforced for me was the importance of treating your audience, and their views, with respect.
EBA: thanks. Can you give us a top 5 Do’s and Don’ts to help job?hunters ace their presentations. What fonts, sizes, colours usually?work best? Should one put pictures or even sounds and moving pictures?in presentations?
Beth: Not sure about a top five either way, but there are definitely some golden rules that apply!
Prepare your presentation before you do your slides. Some of the worst presentations are written straight onto PowerPoint, and it shows – mainly because the author has just “brain dumped” whatever came into their head, and then tried to present it. Get your key messages straight first. What do you want the audience to remember?
Remember that a PowerPoint presentation doesn’t replace what you’re saying, so your presentation materials need to support, rather than replace, your content. It’s almost impossible to build a relationship with your audience if they’re trying to read a complicated slide before you move on to the next one. So a good rule of thumb to use is:
• No more than five bullets per slide?• No more than five words per bullet
It’s also helpful to take a minimalist approach to your materials – less is definitely more. No-one wants to endure Death by PowerPoint! Ten slides for a ten minute presentation is, in my opinion, at least six too many. You’ll struggle to get through them. If the organisation you are presenting to likes to use detailed or complicated materials, provide further, more detailed slides as handouts after the presentation, and cover the “headlines” in your allotted presentation time.
For interview presentations, try and use a font size and colour which are the same as, or similar to, the ones used by the organisation you want to join. You can usually pick these up from their websites. The subliminal message is “We are on the same wavelength!”
EBA: Ah, yes, matching – I can just hear the NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) practitioners out there resonating with that one!
Beth: Pictures are helpful, and often illustrate a point far better than words. Moving graphics and sounds can work but again, need to be appropriate and useful and support your key messages, rather than an exercise in demonstrating your IT skills. If you’re in any way worried about how they will work, best to avoid them.
So the questions to ask yourself are:?“Do my materials reinforce my main messages?”?“Are they appropriate to the culture of the organisation I am presenting to?”?“Am I confident that I can get it all to work properly on the day?”
A final tip – always take printed copies of your slides in case the laptop or projector fails you on the day. Having a contingency plan in place makes all the difference.
EBA: are there any good websites where we can pick up more?presentation tips or templates?
Personally, I’m not sure that templates are the answer – if you want to see them used comically to great effect, visit www.norvig.com/gettysburg and see how Lincoln would have coped with modern technology…
www.uncommon-knowledge.co.uk/public_speaking has lots of great tips and ideas, particularly for nervous presenters.
EBA: So far we have mainly talked about the electronic side of?presenting, you know, how to put together the materials. How about?the physical aspect of presenting. How should one deliver the? presentation? Does one stand up, and if so where? I know when I stand up and present I tend to walk around a little bit, and I try to engage my audience as much as possible with questions. I think that if one is in a situation where the recipients are sitting down, it’s better?to remain in the same plane or at the same level – as it helps maintain that all important rapport. What are your thoughts on this?
Beth: I agree with you, Jason, and I think that the culture of the firm is important here too. Don’t forget that national culture also has an impact on presentation approach, so if you’re presenting abroad, do your research on this. Check out the expectations of the audience in advance if you can. Do they expect a formal approach, where you stand up and they sit down? Can you ask people to interact, or will questions be kept until the end? Or is the organization or association the kind of place where everyone sits down and has a chat? Ask the person who is organising the engagement as many questions as you feel you can – about the people attending, what style the organisation prefers, and even the room itself. Preparation really does count here. The more information you have in advance, the more confident you’ll feel about your approach – leaving you free to concentrate on the content.
One final thought. Presentations are rarely the first stage in a selection process; the organisation has usually decided that you have something to offer before they ask you to prepare something like this. So remember – this is your opportunity to share your wisdom with a wider audience, and prove conclusively that you are the person for the job. Have fun, and good luck!
EBA: Thanks Beth for all of your advice, I know that Eco Business Academy readers will have found some fantastic tips here.
Shop assistant: Hello, can I help you?
Vivian: I was in here yesterday, you wouldn’t wait on me.
Shop assistant: Oh.
Vivian: You people work on commission, right?
Shop assistant: Yeah.
Vivian: Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.
If there is one thing I have learned in the world of selling over the past 18 years that I have been involved in it, it is to never, EVER, judge your prospects and customers. The above quote is a great example, and you may recognise it from the famous scene from the movie Pretty Woman, when Vivian, a call girl, walked into a high-class ladies wear store, with lots of bags of designer shopping, having been refused service the previous day because she wasn’t dressed appropriately.
When I used to work in a large investment bank, I was surprised every day by the behaviour of my various customers. Surprised in that my expectations of what they would do versus what they actually did, regularly differed. Supposedly small clients gave more regular trade than supposedly large customers.
People in the banking world or financial advisors, have to go through a process of KYC – Know Your Customer. But this applies to all businesses, whatever you do.
How much time do you actually spend getting to know your customer?
One of the very best salesmen I have ever come across, was a guy called Charles B. He used to wait on me at one of the UK’s leading menswear retailers. When I first met him, I had gone into the shop because I needed to buy a pair of trousers. That first time I went in, I left having spent over £1,000
Charles’ approach to selling was to take a completely holistic view of his customer. He did not ask the typical shop assistant question “How can I help you?” – No – he would ask me what event I was getting ready for; what part of my wardrobe am I having trouble with right now (i.e.. casual, smart casual, formal, or super-formal). He would draw me into a conversation that would go something like this:
Charles: Hello Sir, I’m Charles. How are you doing today, are you planning something special or just looking to add some versatility to your wardrobe? Are you having trouble choosing what to wear in the morning?
Me: Well, actually yes, I just don’t have any trousers that I really like. I have jeans, and I have suits, but I want some casual slacks for when Jeans are just to casual.
Charles: No problem Sir, why don’t you step right into the changing room, and I’ll bring you 5-6 pieces for you to try on. What kind of knitwear, and shirts do you tend to wear, just so I can get an idea of the styles you are comfortable with? You’re a size 32 waist, and small for shirts/tops right? What is your name Sir?
Jason: It’s Jason. Yes that’s my size. I tend to wear fitted shirts, block colours like white or blue – I try not to be too loud or ostentatious.
Charles: Okay, stay there Jason, and I’ll sort you out with an outfit. You don’t have to buy everything, I just want you to see how you would look with what you already have in your wardrobe at home.
I would then spend the next 2 hours in the changing room. I’d never step out of it. Not once. Charles would even bring me water to keep my hydrated (you know what it’s like in changing rooms – HOT!)
Charles would bring me trousers, along with shirts, shoes and jackets (that I hadn’t come into buy) just so that I could ‘try them on’. He would emphasise how I feel and then bring more clothes so I could feel even more. He made me look good, and that made me feel good. He said that I didn’t have to buy ALL the clothes.
But I DID have to buy them, because he found the best pieces in the shop that suited my taste. He even sold me my first ever PINK sweater! That first visit I left with trousers, shirts, sweaters and shoes. Oh, and a belt. I bought it all, because what he also did was ask me to wear all the items in different combinations. White shirt with the navy trousers. Then the black trousers with a green sweater. Then the green sweater with the white shirt, and navy trouser etc… showing me that I wasn’t just buying one outfit, I was buying multiple outfits. He showed me that in fact my money was going to stretch to six-times the amount it would have if I had just bought without his help. I would buy 8 pieces, but have 64 different possible combinations to wear them.
He judged me better than I judged myself when I walked into the shop. I say “trousers”, he says “Get in the changing room”. He sorted out my entire season of clothing in one visit. I didn’t need to go to another shop for 6 months…..and when I did, you can bet I went back to see Charles.
Try to remove the “How can I help you?” vocabulary, and think of alternatives, and properly engage with your customers. Get to Know Your Customer the Charles B. way. My sales guru Zig Ziglar, (R.I.P), would be proud of him.
Oh, by the way, Charles B. now runs a very successful jewellery company called Bead Brothers.