April 29, 2013

Remove The Barriers!

By Paul Bieber

They are there.  Right in front of you.  Problem is: you get so used to them, you can’t see them.  They are just part of the landscape.  Except…your customers, seeing them for the first time, not only see them, but often times, customers can’t get over the barriers to do business with you.  They go where it is easier to do business, even if you are the most convenient glass company.

Let’s find out what these barriers are.

Make it easy to find your store!  Have an easy-to-read sign which is also lit at night.  Show your hours on your door along with your phone number in letters that can be read from a car parked in front of your store.  Give location hints in your advertising, such as, 123 main street, between Maple Ave and Pine Street; or across the street from the Acme Restaurant.

Have an entrance that is easy to use.  Put a railing up if you have a step up or down into your store.  Leave your lights on all day when someone is in the shop.  You may try to save some bucks on your electric bill, but many customers will not enter a store that looks dark from the outside.  Driving by, looking for your store, they may feel you are closed if they can’t see in.

Have your employees park in back or on the side.  Leave the spaces in front of your location for your customers.  Let your vendors know they should park on the side too.  Make sure you have a clearly marked handicap space also.  If you have space, park one of your trucks in front of the building as an additional sign for your business.  Make sure your truck is clean and presents a strong image of your company.

Let’s talk about reaching you by phone.  (Get the joke…talk about the phone…it’s a good thing I am not a comedian in my day job).  Answer all calls as quickly as possible, first or second ring.  The person answering the phone should say your company name, their first name and offer to help…as in:  Acme Glass, this is Paul, can I help you?  Don’t have a contest on who can say it the quickest.  Your phone answer person, at this point, is the most important person in your company.  Never place someone on hold without asking if it is OK.  If you have music on hold, make it something very neutral, not a news station or talk radio.  Whatever  news or talk station like that you pick, you will upset exactly half of the people who call in.  Don’t leave people on hold longer than one minute without checking back in.  After two minutes, offer to take a message and then get the right person to answer ASAP.

A customer is calling you now to get an answer, or hopefully, buy a product.  If they don’t hear from you in a couple of minutes, they will go to the next name on their search engine or the phone book.  I bet you do too.  If your shop doesn’t have full-time people in the office, have your phone transferred to your cell phone when you are out.  If a customer calls you at 10:00 in the morning for a repair on a patio slider, they want someone there today, not tomorrow when you get around to answering your messages. 

Train your installers to ask if your customers want information on anything else, and get back to them the very next morning.  If you wait a week, the customers will forget what they were interested in! 

Make it easy for your customers to find you, to talk to you, and buy from you.  Now wasn’t that easy!