Build Up The Buzz

The top small—and almost free—ways to leave a big impact on your customers.

Small businesses need to stand out to make their American Dream a reality. In making extraordinary attempts to stand out, some small businesses get caught up looking at the bigger picture and planning for the future rather than focusing on the here and now to gain a steady customer base. By paying attention to the details of today, and making the experience of the customer at your small business something to remember, you will gain loyal customers and build a foundation for the future. With that, here are some of the most effective ways to leave a lasting impression on your customers.

Furnish a Functional Workplace

A welcoming workplace stresses professionalism and attention to customer needs, showing your customers that you respect your workplace and that you are serious about your business—and theirs. Keep your workplace organized, clutter-free and professional. Spending a few minutes to tidy up after your business closes at night will ensure a pleasant workplace in the morning. Your business should be smoke-free to keep the air clean and guarantee the health and happiness of employees and customers. Your workplace should also be safe and free from any potential hazards to employees and customers. Maintenance on faulty equipment should be completed in a timely fashion.

Establish Your Company’s Culture

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99 percent of all businesses in the country employ less than 500 people. Every employee of your business should have one thing in common: pride in who they work for and what they do. Those employees who are proud and believe in your business will have a remarkable impact on customers and other employees. As each employee is hired and joins your business’ team, they are being initiated into a special group of people working toward
common goals.

A great way to instill this pride in your employees is through your company’s culture. The environment of your business should effectively advocate serious business, but yet promote teamwork and rapport between employees and customers. Do what you can to encourage a close and supportive relationship among your staff. Then, by setting goals and effectively working as a team, the professional environment and the office camaraderie unite. Incentives for completing tasks or goals, such as an “Employee of the Month” award or taking your staff on an outing, add liveliness and vigor to
the workplace.

Also remember that communication is the simplest way to assure the success of your environment. Asking fellow employees and customers for feedback is one simple way to improve the atmosphere of your business.

Implement a Dress Code

Image is very important to businesses, and the simplest way to present customers with a uniform, professional, and positive image is to implement a dress code. Choosing an appropriate dress code for your business depends on your preference, but something simple and uniform is essential. This can range from casual to business casual to formal business attire. The most important thing to remember when adopting a dress code is to choose one that will represent the right image of your business. Keeping the dress code simple and uniform creates a positive public image of your business. Even if your dress code is casual, try incorporating your logo into the attire via a pin, hat or shirt; this will distinguish the employees from the customers.

Welcome with a Friendly Greeting

The greeting is the first interaction between the business and the customer. Without a personal and friendly greeting, you have lost that first impression forever. Greet your customers with eye contact and a smile to welcome them to your business. Note your customer’s surroundings and engage in some small talk to display your interest in your customer. Do not spend much time trying to sell a particular product or service, as you will lose that personal connection you made at the greeting. Keep the greeting and information about your business short and sweet. Making the customer feel welcome by showing interest with a few simple words and gestures is a great and simple way to leave a lasting impression.

Just the Facts on Your Voicemail

A useful voicemail on your business’ phone line will ensure interested customers receive the vital information they need. Voicemail messages should be clear and concise, not dwelling on meaningless details. Keep the voicemail simple: include your business name, repeat your phone number, and state the hours of operation to give the consumer important information about your business. Keep the tone mature, professional, and polite. The voicemail message should be given the same serious consideration as the personal greeting as some customers will have their first impression by your voicemail.

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Customer service is what keeps small businesses alive. 70 percent of all customers will leave one provider not because of price or product quality, but because of poor customer service, according to the Customer Service Training Center. Service should be efficient, with knowledge of the business presented in a professional manner. The simplest way to provide extraordinary customer service is to ensure all employees are well-educated about all aspects of your business. By having well-informed employees, customers will be able to have any and all questions answered on the spot without having to consult other employees. Honesty is the best policy, and do not make promises to customers you cannot keep. Excellent customer service leads to customer satisfaction with your business.

Reward Loyal Customers

Loyal customers should be recognized and become familiar to all employees. Take the time to recall some information from the initial greeting and interaction and to make their experience at your business a personable one. Show the loyal customer that their business is important to you by caring about what matters to them. This ensures that they will feel appreciated and valued as they keep coming back to your business.

You can also implement a Customer Appreciation Program, including special offers and deals to give your customers incentive to come back. At the same time, you can offer special deals. Many businesses have a “Frequent Buyer Card” that can be simply made on your own computer. At the first transaction a customer makes at your business, present them with the card; from each transaction forward, inquire about their “Frequent Buyer Card,” and stamp it each visit until the card is complete. At that time, they are eligible for the reward.

Get Your Name Out There

There are countless ways to get your name out there, and the Internet contains a multitude of ways to advertise. Membership in America’s Best Companies provides businesses with premium placement advertising on Your own website, which you can create through myABCspace, provides advertisement within itself and places you online. Explore other areas of the Internet, including Facebook, MySpace and blogs to spread your business to other networks. The more places on the Internet that your business appears, the quicker it will move up the search engine rankings and more potential customers will find you.

Another route to advertising your business is to take a simpler route. Create flyers to place in mailboxes, on car windshields and around your community. Design your own newsletter for your small business to inform customers about upcoming promotions and savings. Invest in business cards to hand out to customers, family, and friends. The methods of getting your name out there are limitless. Be creative!

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