I frequent many small businesses within the metro-Detroit area. There is nothing that pains me more than to see the lack of professionalism in an establishment that I spend my hard-earned dollars in. Sometimes, I let it slide and roll off my shoulders. But, when it directly affects the quality of service I receive, I am quick to grab my keys and walk out.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine went to a hair salon to get her hair touched up. This was not her first time visiting the salon; the last time she visited was about 6 months ago. Upon entering, she was not greeted, as clients usually are, and she noticed that her stylist and the owner were arguing over her commission. The argument had gotten so heated to where the stylist finally greeted my friend and offered to do her hair out of her own home because she had to leave. This stylist was not being fired, she was not being suspended or sent home, she was simply upset that her count was not totaling up to what the owner had calculated. I’m still furious over the fact that she was willing to leave a client in her chair and another client waiting just because her number was not matching what the owner had come up with.
When my friend shared her experience with me, I became upset because none of this should have happened in front of customers. If there is ever a dispute or any business issue or concern that needs to be discussed with your staff, then it should either be handled in a room away from customers or after hours.
Despite how long you’ve been in business and how successful you are, you should never lose site of having proper business etiquette in the presence of customers. A customer should never feel or witness tension or a sense of hostility in a business environment. It not only looks bad on your part, but it looks bad on the business and could easily turn into an unsafe environment. Etiquette, professionalism, manners, politeness, and courtesy can go a very long way in business.
Great each customer upon arrival
No customer should be able to sneak into your establishment without being acknowledged. When a customer enters, be sure to greet them upon arrival. And if you really want to impress them, greet them by their name, if you know it. I love it when I enter Biggby Coffee and they speak to me and asks “Teddy Bear with Soy and Whip?”. Have you ever entered an establishment and not only do they greet you, but they have your order ready for you because they spotted you getting out of your car and started preparing your “regular”? If you love that type of service, don’t be afraid to offer the same type of courtesy to your customers in your business.
Make small talk
I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. Don’t tell anyone. 😉 Making small talk is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always .felt that it wasn’t authentic. Whenever someone starts talking to me about the weather, inside, I say “here we go…”. It sounds as if they’re trying to hard to make small talk. However, making small talk can also go a long way in building an authentic relationship with your customer if it’s done right. It doesn’t hurt to ask your customer how they have been if it’s been a long time since you’ve seen them. Another good one is asking if they have any vacations planned this summer. EVERYONE loves talking about vacation and it doesn’t sound as cheesy as “This weather is beautiful, I hope it stays this way.”.
I know, this one seems so easy to do to where I shouldn’t have included it here. But you’d be surprised at how many people are working or running a business where they forget to smile. Don’t be so focused in your work or your daily tasks where you forget to offer a friendly and polite smile.
Lastly, I’m going to throw in a bonus tip right here. If you’re a business owner of a small shop, there is no excuse for you not to greet and speak to every customer that comes in. Meijer and other big box stores hire someone to do this. Why can’t you? I went to this same salon my friend visited a week before she did and I must tell you, I was not impressed with the owner’s customer engagement. In fact, there was a major lack of engagement there. If your name is on the business, everyone should know who you are and should be able to speak highly about you, and not simply know you by face. Which one sounds better “Yeah, I know Patrice, she’s a Social Media Strategist and Business Coach”, or “I know Patrice, she is amazing and extremely down-to-earth with her delivery and coaching style. You should check her out!”?
As a business owner, never forget the power of word-of-mouth. Every customer is your publicist. If you keep that in mind, you’ll be A-Ok.
Alright, I’m done preaching…for now. 🙂