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4 Simple Ways to Create Amazing Customer Service

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
By John Bocker


I visited a small specialty retailer tonight and was amazed to unfortunately experience all of the missed opportunities for the establishment to make money!  I could have spent more then $200 but actually left empty handed.  I have been a retailer across various categories for more than 25 years and continue to be amazed at how much under-utilized information and training is available for retail businesses everywhere. Yet when it comes down to providing great service to sell a product, I continue to find the majority of sales personnel in retail missing the primary opportunities to maximize the sale.  Why is this a continuing issue and what can business owners do to correct it?

Retailers across America selling all types of products including tools and hardware, beauty products, apparel, sporting goods, and now even cannabis in Colorado are finding it very difficult to achieve their sales goals and are frequently scratching their heads and wondering why they're falling short of daily sales expectations. Sadly, I also continue to hear from business leaders that “we’ll make it up next week” and other excuses that fall short of addressing the obvious.  In this article I will outline four key areas that can quickly turn businesses around with management leadership focusing on the important selling behaviors that matter most.

These best practices have been proven through “A-Team” exercises over and over again where the best selling employees in the company were assigned to execute to the highest degree possible for a short period of time in a specific store. The behaviors and activities were choreographed, specialty areas were specifically assigned to team members, participants were monitored and supported by business coaches, and all were challenged with “stretch” sales goals.  In every A-Team exercise, the results blew away sales expectations!

1.  Hire the right person!  How many times have you heard this? 
One of my greatest mentors showed me the real impact of requiring retail sales candidates to actually move to the sales floor during the in-person screening process and actually “sell” a specific product to the interviewer.  This simple exercise really challenged the true capabilities of the candidate and revealed whether or not they actually possessed the skill-set, personality, courage, demeanor, presentation skills and product knowledge to be hired as a great sales person. Any candidate can say they know how to sell, and any candidate can say they really want to be a sales person but when you actually put them to the test of impromptu selling, you can quickly and easily validate those who are and are not qualified to represent you well and be a great sales person.

2. Set the expectation

Set the expectation with each sales person that every guest that walks into your business has the potential to purchase thousands of dollars in product if provided the best service and sales attention possible!  We’ve all been amazed when this happens and we celebrate such events but why not think of this as a standard instead of the exception?  When you set the bar very high, it exemplifies the fact that every customer can be the “magical customer” if treated with respect, made to feel important, treated as a “VIP”, and provided outstanding customer service beyond anything he/she can get from any other retailer in the area. Every employee should understand the simple fact that every customer who visits your business will maximize their spend if you qualify their needs, provide a solution, provide great service and build a relationship with that customer.

3.  Engage with every guest

Engage with every guest first by understanding whom they are, where they work or live, their name, their needs and how you can fulfill their total expectations. Today's retail world is unfortunately still filled with sales people who use the old-fashioned and tired approach of “Can I help you?” “Help you find something?” “Find what you're looking for?” and in the worst-case scenario, no approach at all. Today's consumer who is willing to spend as much as necessary for great service and product solutions is just waiting to be over- serviced as a “VIP” and approach that makes them feel special, respected, valued and important. When your customers feel all of these emotions, they become a customer for life and price becomes less important. Great selling is about relationships and rapport and not about price. If your sales people can understand the value of a relationship, you will win in so many ways! This is critical to your success as a retail owner and cannot be left for chance. This process has to be modeled, coached, validated, reinforced, recognized and applauded when executed correctly. Miss any of these aspects of the great sales process, and you will never achieve your full potential as a business owner.

4.  Coach your sales people to genuinely thank and reaffirm with every customer

Lastly, coach your sales people to genuinely thank and reaffirm with every customer how important they are to the business, how excited you are that they have visited with you, confirm that you filled every need that they had and go the extra steps to find out what their future needs are and build a lasting relationship.   Building your client relationship is more important than ever in today’s competitive marketplace. And it's the same reason so many people return over and over to their favorite coffee house, restaurant or lunch spot. There are several great retailers that do this well and if you can model their sales activities and professionalism, you can build your own mini super-retailer reputation and brand that will prompt customers to brag about you and become raving fans of your business. 

And don't forget that if you can build a team that executes to these four points, you owe it to the team to recognize and reward them in creative, sincere, fun and relative ways.


John Bocker is a professional retail and hospitality business strategy consultant specializing in maximizing profitability, risk management, employee integrity, training, and driving success! John is Founder and Principal at JB Group, LLC based in Denver, Colorado where he partners with business leaders to exceed sales and profit expectations.  Visit www.jbgroupco.com or call (720) 514-0609 for more information.

Key People to Add to Your Business Team

Monday, July 18, 2016
  By Kat Rico
  

You’re in business for yourself, yes, but you should never be in business by yourself. In order to be productive, you need a team of people behind you! Here are some key people we recommend that you have on your side for better and for worse while you’re in business (in no particular order).
  1. Accountant – You don’t have time to learn all of the tax and bookkeeping ins and outs, and you shouldn’t have to. Of course you should have a basic understanding of the concepts, but an accountant can help you figure out where your business might be hemorrhaging money, opportunities to save on taxes, and whether you have adequate cash flow to hire that first employee.

  2. Attorney – Things happen. Contracts go bad. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. Whatever the case, your attorney is there to help you and go to bat for you. They can also help you before you make a potentially bad decision by helping you select an entity type, review a lease, draw up a standard contract to use for jobs and more. Along with your accountant, your attorney can be a strong business ally. The best option is to have an attorney before you need one.

  3. Mentor – This is a person who has business experience, preferably in your industry, that you can bounce ideas off of and will give you constructive advice without sugarcoating reality. Your mentor needs to be someone who doesn’t have a stake in the business (so no investors), they only have a stake in your success. Meet them once in a while and catch up on the good, the bad and the ugly of how your business is doing. Don’t use your mentor just to vent or brag, but to learn about how you can do your business better. As a shameless plug for our services, this is the best area where the SBDC can help!

  4. Banker – Don’t just have a bank, but a banker. A real person you can call at your bank when you don’t understand a fee, need to buy some equipment or need to order checks. Communicate with them on a regular basis. Your banker is your friend and can alert you to potentially fraudulent activity, but only if they know how you normally spend your business money.

  5. Marketer - Your marketer should be able to help you identify who your customers are, how to reach them, and understand if you're reaching them. The best description we've heard comes courtesy of Larimer SBDC Social Media Specialist, Amy Alcorn, who told us, "Not having a marketing person for your business is like trying to flirt and winking in the dark." Don't invest money in advertising, online or otherwise, without talking to your marketer about your strategy.
Of course, there may be a couple of other people you want to regularly consult with about your business depending on your industry, but these are a good starting point to build a supportive network to help your business succeed.


North Metro Denver SBDC 2nd Quarter Update

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Photos courtesy of Kim Liddard
By Kat Rico

On July 29th, the North Metro Denver SBDC held its second quarter consultant and facilitator training. Between the main Westminster office at Front Range Community College (FRCC), Brighton and Broomfield satellites, the North Metro Denver SBDC reported year to date consulting hours of 1,116, with reported 16 business starts, $799,000 in new capital formation, $1.2 million in increased sales and 38 jobs created through July 2015. 

During this meeting, two key players from the SBDC were recognized for their contributions towards these goals. Jon Jaggers, who was previously awarded “Consultant of the Year” in 2014 for the Colorado SBDC Network, was awarded “Consultant of the Year” by the North Metro Denver SBDC. He has been a crucial component in the developing manufacturing program that aims to help small businesses implement LEAN processes and secure better contracts, allowing these businesses to grow faster. 

Linda Kielian was recognized as the North Metro Denver SBDC “MVP.” She has been with the SBDC for about two years in a part-time capacity. Her efforts are largely behind the scenes, coordinating many of the administrative and financial processes that are needed to run classes, complete reporting and more. 

The North Metro Denver SBDC at FRCC is looking towards the future and the growth of the manufacturing program and our continued impact throughout 2015.  

Consultant Feature - Jesse Esparza

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Jesse Esparza has been consulting with the North Metro Denver SBDC for about 8 years now. He has a long and varied career that he draws upon during consulting sessions, as well as bilingual skills he puts to use teaching classes.

In the video embedded below, Jesse offers up some common hurdles for entrepreneurs to beware of as well as some great tips for getting started as a business owner.


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