25th January, 2016
That is a favourite question of my teenage daughter! My usual answer is everyone cares and you should too! That applies equally though in a business sense.
In running a business there are many questions for the entrepreneur:
• What is the vision
• How’s my cashflow
• How do I market my business effectively
• How do I manage time better to meet demands of staff, customers, visitors let alone my personal responsibilities.
• How do I plan for the future, what is my forward plan.
• And there are many more!
Focussing on the above key areas and finding that space to think and plan is a big challenge and recognised by many running small businesses, solve that and you are doing well! One approach I have found successful over the years has been to focus on the ‘care’ question, if you care properly for two key areas of your business you will naturally focus on the key issues, tackle the important matters and create that space to ‘think and plan’ – vital for successful entrepreneurs.
So what should you ‘care’ about – the two key aspects for me are your people and your customers.
The people you employ/contract are vital to your business. They represent you/your business, they sell your service/product and they interact with your customers. If your people get things wrong consistently serious damage could be caused to your business. Additionally if your people are unhappy or feel undervalued you are more likely to have a high staff turnover and low staff retention rates. Suffer this and you’ll be in a constant state of recruitment and training new staff – that all takes time (and money) and is something to avoid.
I have found by implementing some simple measures to ‘care’ for your people you can get great people in your business doing great things for you and your business. Try these for example:
• Give and take!
Flexibility is vital these days and being accommodating and versatile with your people is key – supporting people with commitments outside of work, work at home policies and allowing staff time off for medical appointments etc is always appreciated. I find this is repaid in many other ways and drives staff loyalty and commitment.
Supporting your team with training activity by time off or supporting costs where possible is always well received. As a business you get the return/payback in a better trained team member who values the support you’ve provided.
Formal, informal it doesn’t matter just do lots of it! You will be surprised what can be learnt from an informal conversation, if you hadn’t had that chat you may miss out on key information you need as a business owner. As part of this I would also include recognition – a simple email/text from you as the owner creates a real feel good factor. Never forget to recognise achievement and say thanks – it’s a simple task that takes minimal time but can bring much benefit.
I have found these simple steps a key part in maintaining high staff retention rates, generating loyalty and commitment to the business and helping to create a happy, productive team.
The second key area that requires your care! Happy, loyal customers will do two things – come back for more and tell others about you! So much energy and effort goes into finding customers and yet I often see not as much effort put into making sure once you have secured a customer you keep hold of them! Too much time and money is spent chasing and trying to find new customers, yes that is vital but keeping hold of the ones you have is arguably more important. A key aspect of keeping hold of customers is ‘care’.
There are some simple measures that can be implemented to help look after your customers:
• Keeping in touch
Keep reminding your customers who you are, what you do and how you can help them. Several easy, low cost ways to do this via newsletters, social media etc
• Say “Thank you”
Simple but effective, a really nice message but it reminds customers of your business and enables you to offer them more service/product.
• Create value
What can you offer existing customers so they see the value of staying with you. As mentioned above lots of businesses focus on new customers and will offer incentives/freebies etc – you need to counter that by offering similar measures so customers see the benefit of staying with you. Happy customers who feel valued/appreciated will be customers for the long term and spread the word about you!
So, in conclusion in among all the questions that an entrepreneur has in their mind I would encourage you at the start of a New Year to ask yourself a couple of key questions:
• How do I care for my people?
• How do I care for my customers?
Get your approach and strategy right here and you’ll have happy, settled people working for you delivering excellent service to loyal customers who want more and more from your business – sounds a good formula to me!
Written by Richard Dearden, CEO, NBV Solutions Ltd
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