Tag Archives: Community

10 Top Tips to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Part One

Study after study says it easier and cheaper to keep customers coming back! Here are my 10 top tips to do that.

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1. Be friendly by smiling…call customers by their name whenever possible.

a) Customers respond favourably when treated as an individual.
b) Give compliments. A sincere compliment has huge bonuses; your business is elevated. (People see it as a place with great service.)
c) Above all THANK customers as often as possible; remember to use eye contact. Sincerely thank customers for visiting even when they don’t buy. Sincerity builds trust and gives them a good feeling.

2. Ramp up your good service to great service by giving more than expected.

a) Even though it may be difficult at times to hire the ‘right’ people, train your staff to be friendly and knowledgable.
b) Sincerely compliment your staff; remember they are your customers too and thrive on appreciation.
c) Make friendly service part of your business culture. Create a team environment where staff feel safe to offer comments/ideas for improving service. “Fear of the boss” and lack of appreciation are the greatest hindrances for staff to provide extra-special service.

3. Be part of your community and promote it. Let customers know about local happenings. Be prepared to give donations but remember they can be double-purposed. For example:

a) Donate an item for a silent auction with the promise to fund the bidder’s chosen charity by matching the dollar amount bid, up to a ceiling of ‘x’ amount.
b) Or give a ’12 month Growing Savings Certificate’…the winner of your certificate receives ‘x’ amount off any item of ‘y’ value or greater in your store in January. In February they can receive ‘x+x’ amount off any item of ‘y’ value or greater. By March they can receive ‘x+x+x’ amount off and so on. By December they will have 12 ‘x’ amount savings while purchasing items from your store each month. It becomes a win-win. (Remember the ‘y’ value always has to be greater than the cumulative ‘x’ value.)

4. Keep your facility welcoming, tidy and in good repair…

a) It is a must to have clean public washrooms.
b) Also, keep your supplies out of sight from public areas. Store them in the back of the store.
c) For the comfort of your customers, room temperature needs to be appropriate for your business.
d) Have appropriate lighting (subdued lighting for romantic dining; brighter lighting for a hardware store).
e) Maintenance must be up-to-date (replace burnt out light bulbs, repair worn out floor tiles/seating).
f) Display hours of operation in a prominent place such as under your ‘open’ sign.
g) Keep your frontage clear of snow and obstacles.
h) Your cash register area needs to be neat and clear of any unnecessary paper materials (it’s not your office). A bouquet of fresh flowers or a full candy dish is a nice touch. Once flowers start to wilt, replace them.

5. Seek and use customer feedback to improve your service. Your customers are experts on what they like and expect from your business but make it easy for them to give their feedback. Automated calls are impersonal and can be disruptive which may have a negative effect. The best method to get a response from your customers needs to provide a value or reward; but whatever method you choose, respond to the individual in a timely fashion with a thank you. Remember customers like to be treated like people not numbers.

What action will you make today to keep customers coming back?
May customers flood through your doors,

Peter

Keep Staff Connected to Enhance Customer Experience

Matt Rolfe in his November 27, 2014 blog “Five tips for effective employee engagement surveys” states some startling statistics… 60 – 100 percent of staffers leave voluntarily on an annual basis. That affects guest experience, social media ratings and profit.

In the hospitality and retail industries most of your staff work in some capacity directly with customers. One of the key members of your staff is your manager; through his/her leadership staff will gel into a cohesive team focused on providing great service or not. Your business success depends on good-to-great leadership otherwise a large percentage of your staff will leave. A business is a team effort so your supportive guidance along with your manager‘s is critical.

Rolfe further states that replacing a staff member costs a business one to three times the staff member’s annual salary.

Over the course of a year that could turn a lot of potential profits into ashes!

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Based on his own experiences, Rolfe has found staff quit most often because there is a problem with managers, not necessarily with the business. He recommends an employee engagement survey as a performance indicator. Visit www.restaurantcentral.ca/employeeengagementsurveys.aspx for his five tips for effective surveys.

All businesses are in the business of relationship building both with their customers and their staff. A survey is an excellent tool but if you can’t see yourself monitoring performance through a formal survey, perhaps these suggestions will be some help until you can put a survey in place.

To enhance customer experiences and reduce staff turnover, it is important to give public and peer recognition to your staff.

  • Saying a verbal thank-you after a notable effort means a lot to a staff member who wants to be part of your team.

  • Seeking staff input through staff meetings and putting some of their suggestions into action is another form of relationship building.

  • Being in integrity and building impartial leadership creates a safe environment for open communications.

  • Formal recognition milestones also play an uplifting role in staff engagement.

  • Making the team environment a lighthearted place to work improves performance.

  • Putting heart-felt, handwritten ‘Thank you Team’ notices on the bulletin board communicates appreciation.

  • Implementing friendly competition events with fun rewards within your business fosters team building as well as sponsoring teams for local community sports events.

  • Encouraging staff volunteer efforts for local community non-profit organizations is an avenue for compassion for others.

  • Set aside two 15 minute sessions each week, to confidentially talk face-to-face with two different staff members. Let all your staff know the purpose of the talks is to make their workplace a more satisfying and stimulating environment. Remember these confidential sessions are sacred! Honor your staff by making time for them. To focus the conversation, have a list of 2-3 discussion topics to start with.

  • When a staff member chooses to leaves, have a policy for an end-of-employment interview to thank them for being part of the team, find out what they liked best and least, suggestions for improvements and wishing the best for them in their new position. Make sure all employees know about this interview and what to expect when their employment is finished.

Creating an effective, open form of communication keeps your staff connected to enhance customer experiences. All businesses are in the business of relationship building.

How does PFS help with this process? In our surveys that get sent out one of the questions asked is about the person (employee) that served them. If you assign employee to have their own id in the program it tracks the customers they served. So even if the customer forgets the name of the server our program helps remember.

Here’s to YOUR Success!

Peter

Keeping Today’s Customers …

Tomorrow, Next Month and Next Year

Blanket print advertising has been a traditional mainstay of marketing but in today’s electronic world it is losing ground. Customers are mobile; they want instant results. Few are willing to find an offer in a paper, cut it out and bring it in. There are several permanent problems with coupons in the paper. First of all, the customer has to receive the paper. Next, this form of marketing encourages consumers to wait for the best price; they may or may not consider quality or service. Plus, the business has to plan well in advance to meet deadlines and have the right offer for the right season. Then a manual, time-consuming tracking system has to be in place to crunch the numbers quickly to see the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. Once the campaign is in place, it is permanent. It can’t be easily tweaked to suit subtle market changes. It can be very costly for the results it generates.

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Blanket radio advertising is much more current. Continue reading

Prevention is Better Than Apologizing

Have you ever promised a customer that you can deliver a product and then discovered it is no longer available? Getting back right away, apologizing and suggesting alternative sources is good customer relations which pays back in the long run; but, what if this is a recurring problem? Finding the root cause of the problem is crucial. Some causes may include overextending yourself or your staff. Perhaps it is difficult to delegate projects out to your team. It may simply be miscalculating the amount of time projects require or maybe communicating with your customers takes more hours than you have in a day.
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If the problem occurs repeatedly, your business creditability comes into question. Having the reputation of being slow or producing unreliable results turns customers away. Continue reading

The Bottom-Line

What does it mean when you say “the bottom-line”? What kind of thoughts are running though your mind right now? We have all heard this phrase in some form or other over the years and I think you will agree it is attached to the meaning of how well your business is doing. It also can be great service or products or an atmosphere that makes your customers feel good. Maybe you can add to this list?

What if it is something more? What if your “bottom-line” is about showing your customers you appreciate their business by doing small things for them? And they, in turn, improve your “bottom-line” by returning more often; freely giving referrals to their family and friends to do the same thing. May I ask what do you do in your business which helps your customers return?

It could be something simple like having fresh cut flowers on the table or near your cash register.

What about being connected to some of the social outlets that are popular with the younger generation?

Perhaps a brochure or pamphlet highlighting your community would be handy for visitors to your town or city.

It could be a roving musician playing at tables while people are eating… Continue reading

Gold in Your Database

In my last blog, I reminisced about the Yukon. It is a beautiful, rugged vast land that can steal your heart in a moment. Clear, cold lakes nestle in valleys where tall whispering timber cling to regal mountains; many are snowcapped. The wind blows with an icy breath even on some summer days. Many of the rivers are glacial fed and are so cold you don’t need ice to keep your beverage of choice cold. Wildlife abounds…majestic bald eagles drift effortlessly, raucous ravens outwit the best secured garbage lids, saucy squirrels dance among the trees, fish tease and fight your hook like broncs at the Stampede, the bugle call of an elk sends shivers up your spine, the moose with their massive antlers disappear as if ghosts, and sure-footed sheep skip across the mountain peaks without a care. The Yukon is a goldmine of scents and scenes to flood your senses with awe and wonder.

In today’s business world, the word ‘Goldmine’ conjures up a different image. Rather than finding gold in an ice cold mountain stream, today’s goldmine refers to innovative ideas that generate a stream of ice cold cash. One of today’s best goldmines is underused. Continue reading

Your Gold Mine

In the Klondike Gold Rush, few struck it rich. Most of the claims were registered before word spread to the rest of Canada or the lower 48. But “Gold Fever” went viral. Thousands of men and a few women made the arduous trek to the far north. The main points of entry to the rich gold fields was through Skagway and Dyea. Entrepreneurs waited for the ‘Chechakos’ who arrived each day, unprepared and ill-equipped for surviving a Yukon winter much less mine for gold. Enthusiastic business men were more than happy to help each newcomer get their kit in order. They would outfit them with the latest supplies at the going rate. (Latest meaning the kit of a previous newcomer who had traded in his supplies the day before.)

In order to pass through the Canadian border, each newcomer had to have a year’s supply of food plus their gold mining equipment, together weighing close to a ton. Every pound of it had to be hauled on their backs up the treacherous Chilkoot Pass or White Pass. The rich ones owned or rented a pack animal, mostly horses, to help them; but, many of these horses fell to their deaths, naming part of the White Pass, Dead Horse Gulch. About 30 round trips had to be made to the top where their supplies were cached. Once at the top, they had to stop either at Lindeman or Bennet lake to build a boat or raft. Continue reading

Time flies…can you keep up?

Do you ever get the feeling time flies by faster and faster? Well I do…here it is June and I said the launch of PFS’ new program was to happen in March. So what was I doing while time was flying?

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In March, Community Futures East Parkland and other areas hosted a competition called the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge. When I looked at what they were offering and the review I could get for my business plan, I thought it was too good to pass on so I became a participant. Wow! If you live in any of the Community Futures regions in Alberta and can partake in this training, I HIGHLY recommend it. Continue reading

2013 Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge Winner

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News Release – June 2013

FINALIST IN CHINOOK ENTREPRENEUR CHALLENGE

Community Futures East Parkland is proud to announce Plenty FULL Services (PFS), a Bashaw based company, was a finalist and the 2013 Runner-up for the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge (CEC).

The CEC is a partnership between other southern/central Community Futures Offices, in its ninth year, for anyone starting a new business or operating an existing business. The business plan competition is a great opportunity for businesses to obtain free on- line access to training on business plan development, the chance to win prizes, including a top prize of $10,000, and the opportunity to develop ideas into thriving businesses.

Plenty FULL Services is an up-and-coming online Customer Communication Rewards Program for small individual businesses and community business associations. PFS supports rural and urban business communities by helping them engage their customers so they return more often, give a steady stream of referrals and freely promote their favorite individual businesses.

From personal management experience the owners, Peter and Laura Graham, know first hand the visibility and demographic challenges many small businesses face. Their Plenty FULL Services program is the solution for any type of business that wants to be instantly aware of their customer satisfaction, reduce their slow times, build a larger customer base, see and interpret the results of their performance in real time, and build a solid financial foundation to weather any economy.

PFS provides valuable information for businesses to tap into so they can successfully compete with brand names. PFS is about ‘Keeping Your Till FULL’.

For further information:

Plenty FULL Services

www.plentyfullservices.com

P: 780-678-9000

or

Community Futures East Parkland

eastparkland.albertacf.com

P: 403-788-2212