FACT: I’m not an expert on transmissions. Never really saw one until I spoke at Expo a few years ago.
FACT: I am an expert on people. I’ve spent a lifetime creating programs, ideas, tips, skills, and techniques for people on the topics of sales, customer service, and communications.
So, when I got asked back to speak at this year’s Expo, it was an honor and certainly a compliment. What it said to me was, “Gee, she may not know too much about transmissions or how to rebuild them, but she sure knows her stuff about people.”
I’m also a small-business owner. They call folks like us entrepreneurs, and I’m damn proud to be one.
But no matter what they call us, we have a small business that we created, was handed down to us, or that we bought. It’s ours. And we get to do pretty much what we want with our businesses.
There are pitfalls of course, but there are pitfalls in every business. So that doesn’t scare me at all. I’d rather make less money and run my own business than have more business and do what someone wants me to do that I don’t like to do. Does that make sense to you?
So I decided to make this article ‘bulletproof,’ if you will, for ‘that day.’ That day when we say, “It’s time.” Be it time to retire, time to slow down, time to sell, or just time. Maybe just time to leave early.
While succession planning is critical in all small businesses, it’s also critical to be sure the folks who stand by our sides — the staff we hired to do the work — are well-trained, so we can feel comfortable taking time off.
I’m always surprised when I hear that those plans aren’t in place. And if those plans aren’t in place, we, as small-business owners, worry a lot. And, of course, then we can’t take that time we so need.
We worry what’ll happen if we aren’t in the shop every day. We worry if our customers will be treated the way we know they should be. We worry if we can take time off for a golf game, let alone a true vacation.
Well, let me help you remove some of that worry.
If you can get a plan in place, even a mini plan, you can play golf, you can take a vacation, you can relax a little more. You can have time because, as the title of the article says, “You can’t take it with you.”
What plan, Nancy? What do you mean?
I mean the feeling that we, as owners, are the only people that can do ‘things.’ That we’re the only ones who know how to operate the shop. How to do everything. I’m sure you know the feeling.
We may know how to do it better, yes, but we need to be sure those we’ve hired, put into place, and who work with our customers, can do it at least well.
I’m betting one of the reasons you don’t take time out for yourself isn’t because you’re worried the others aren’t able to rebuild transmissions. Heck, that’s what they’re trained to do; it’s what they get paid for.
Rather, it’s because of how your employees might treat your customers. Because if you’re a true entrepreneur, you worry about that part a lot.
So here goes: Put this checklist into place at your business. Make your folks accountable for the results. Have a meeting or get-together once a week to be sure they understand what you need and want. It doesn’t need to be a long meeting; 15 to 20 minutes will be fine. If you do make it longer, feed them — that always helps.
Put these 6 ground rules into place, to be followed day in and day out by everyone. No exceptions! And, if you do, you’ll have more time for you.
FACT: The best weapon for a small business against the big guys is customer service. It’s that simple.
We’ll pay more for better service! So, if you’re a small-business owner who’s looking for ways to improve, read on.
Adapting and putting these easy steps into place will make your day, and, more importantly, make the customer’s day a better experience. Once you feel everyone on your staff is on board, you’ll find yourself taking more time for you. Cause remember: You can’t take it with you.
- People Before Paperwork — When someone walks into your place of business or calls you while you’re working on something, drop everything for that person. Remember, paper can wait; people shouldn’t have to. We’ve all been abused when we go shopping and been ignored, and we know how that feels. Let’s not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork.
- Rushing Threatens Customers — Sure, you may understand something quickly, but rushing customers along will only make them feel intimidated and you won’t see them coming back to you. Take it easy. Remember, speed isn’t success! Trying to be “done” with a customer as quickly as possible feels rude and uncaring. Take your time with each contact.
- Company Jargon — Not everyone is as familiar with transmissions as you are. Did you ever get a report from a company and not understand it? Some companies have jargon that makes the CIA wonder what’s up.
Be very careful to avoid using your own company jargon with your customers. You and your employees may understand it very well, but the customer may not. And you’ll only cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Spell things out for your customers. Don’t abbreviate. Remember, don’t use military language on civilians.
- Don’t Be Too Busy to Be Nice — Hey, everyone’s busy! That’s what it’s all about. Being busy doesn’t give you carte blanche to be rude. Remember, you meet the same people going down as you do going up. They’ll remember you. (What’s worse than being busy? Not being busy.)
- “Uh-huh” Isn’t “Thank You”; “There ya go” Isn’t “You’re Welcome” — How often do you hear these slang phrases? We need to remember “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” are beautiful words. The customer can’t hear them too often. But if you’re telling your customers to “have a nice day,” please say it with meaning! I recently had a checkout clerk tell the floor to have a nice day. She wouldn’t look at me. Make eye contact when you’re saying something nice.
- Be Friendly Before You Know Who It Is — There’s a good lesson to be learned here. The Telephone Doctor motto is, smile before you know who it is. It’ll earn you many classic customer service points. Customers need to know you want to work with them, no matter who they are. Remember, sometimes it’s way too late to smile and be friendly after you know who it is.
I still don’t know too much about transmissions or how to rebuild them. But I do know if you put these 6 principles into place, you’ll have happy customers and you’ll have time to play golf, semi-retire, or whatever you want to do.
Remember: They can go somewhere else to get their transmissions rebuilt. Don’t make them go elsewhere for better service.