I walked into a gym; everyone was standing in rows with their white uniforms. The only thing that distinguished them was the color of their belts.
It was confronting when they started to yell with each kick, punch or block. At the front of the class, an instructor would show the proper form of a technique and then they’d repeat the same for 100, sometimes 200 times, this wasn’t what I expected at all.
I was expecting exotic techniques that would show me how to grab my opponent’s finger and bring him down to his knees as he pleaded for mercy. Ok, so I’m exaggerating! Or at least be able to kick like Bruce Lee.
As a teenager, it was boring. We’d do the same thing over and over and over. Each class began with the same basics. We’d practice each kick, punch, block before we did anything else. The class usually lasted a 2 ½ hours, an hour and a half of which was taken up with just practicing the basics.
An instructor would walk around and watch each student carefully to correct incorrect techniques. I trained for almost 20 years and no matter where I trained in the world. All the classes began the same, an hour and a half of basics.
One of the most revered coaches in Basketball John Wooden was famous for never allowing his players into the game until they’d achieved a high level of skill in the basics.
In business, we don’t prepare and train like sportsmen and women. Why not? Perhaps we think it will come naturally. One of the things successful businesses do that the rest don’t do is provide ongoing training to their employees. They train on everything from how to answer the phone to how to deal with customer complaints.
Preparation for dealing with each of these situations is key to business success. It’s not enough to just prepare but find the most effective training and put it into practice.
Aside from preparation the 2nd aspect is to test those skills. In the martial art’s training, they test the students skill by putting a student through a real life fight scenario. In business, we must learn to do the same. The best way I’ve learned to do this is through role plays.
It’s not enough to spend a day training; we also need to test to see to what extent employees have adopted the training. One of the best ways of doing this is with secret shoppers. A cheaper way, of course, is to look at your business as a potential client. Not the easiest thing to do in my experience.
How does this apply to a business you ask? In business, there are some things you must learn to do well, the basics.
If a business advertises a certain level or quality of service, we, as consumers expect that the level of service is equal to or better than advertised. Remember every interaction with your customer tells your customers what they can expect from you. Most people make their decisions about your business on one shopping experience only.
I recently had a problem with some software. I contacted a support company. They person they sent me said she knew the software; “I’m an expert,” she said. After an hour and a half, this expert showed me she didn’t know the software any better than I did, and she couldn’t resolve the problem I had been struggling with for weeks.
2. Treat customers with respect
Your customers are the most precious thing you have. It is easier to sell more to an existing client than it is to new clients. So every person that walks into your business should be treated like a king or queen. Remember when they enter your business they are there to buy. What you do next will determine if they want to do business with you or not.
We’ve all heard the story of the wealthy person who’s ignored by a car dealer because she looks like she doesn’t have any money. She walks out and buys a luxury car cash somewhere else.
An important aspect of treating customers with respect is to make an effort to know them, especially if you want their repeat business. Yesterday we went to lunch in a beautiful forest setting with a group of friends. Every time we go to this restaurant we receive a warm welcome from the owners. It makes me feel good going there even though the food is average.
Something my dad taught me years ago was, always address people by their first name. It is for most of us the sweetest sound we hear.
It’s not just employees that need regular training. As an owner, it is important that you develop your management and leadership skills. An area that all business owners need training on is to learn to treat employees with respect.
The adage that the way you treat your employees is the way they’ll treat your customers is so true. We are all social creatures we like to be liked. If we treat our employees with respect, they’ll love to come to work, and they’ll treat our clients with respect. When employees go out of their way to do a good job, reward them. The impact it will have on all your employees is immeasurable.
Customer complaints are gold. They tell you what you need to improve on. If you take it personally and retaliate, you can destroy your reputation and your business.
Recently we had friends visit from overseas. We took them to a local restaurant. The restaurant has a reputation for good food. Except for the four of us, the restaurant was empty. We ordered a bottle of wine. The wine was not considered appropriate for the meal, but we didn’t care. The waiter was aghast that we should order inappropriate wine. His attitude changed and treated us disrespectfully. On leaving the restaurant, I complained to the owner who became very belligerent and started to berate us.
In business, you should not treat people disrespectfully. If you please, someone, they may tell another person. But if you upset someone then they are sure to tell as many people as possible!
As a small business owner, there is a strong temptation to pass anything to do with money to an accountant. Accountants are first and foremost best at tax compliance. And the person who is most likely to care the most about your business is you. And it should be up to you to know how the money flows in your business on a weekly and monthly basis.
At the very outset, you should meet with an accountant or bookkeeper to create your chart of accounts… all the income and expense categories you will have in your business. Then you should create three excel spreadsheets. A profit and loss, a cash flow statement and a balance sheet. Google and excel have pro forma sheets to help you update your cash flow statement on a weekly basis so you can see the financial performance of your business. Learn to manage your money yourself.
My business partner always used to say what gets measured gets done. It’s incredibly important for your business and particularly for marketing. Marketers have a saying, “only 50% of the money you spend on marketing will work, the problem is knowing which 50%”?
As a marketer, it is important to keep a track of all your clients and where they came. Always ask clients, “how did you hear about us?”
There are so many different things you can do to make your business successful, but people forget the basics. I’ve heard all sorts of ideas on how people think they are going to make their business successful and then a client enters the building, and they forget the basics.
Get good at the basics.