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Taking Care Of Business

Taking Care Of Business

When I’m not tackling client projects and responsibilities at Fruchtman Marketing, I spend some of my free time at a local gym teaching a few fitness classes. Recently, there were some complaints from members that I overheard, regarding some extra fees for a specialized class the gym was going to offer this summer. They felt it was unfairly priced and the perks they would receive weren’t in line with the cost of the specialty class.

After further discussion with management and club members, the following things came to light: Poor communication between membership and management and a lack of loyalty to the club from its members. In fact, a significant insight was hearing how many members felt their kinship and loyalty was tied to the instructors and their peers, not the gym itself. They didn’t feel the owners cared much about making upgrades to the facilities and weren’t informed of improvements in a timely fashion. The new Spin bikes that were supposed to be delivered in a few weeks became months. The locker room issues that were brought up didn't get addressed. Now, I could sit here and say I’m flattered by such a nice comment about the loyalty to instructors, but to be truthful, I felt my management red flags go up. Because there is a danger here and as a business owner, you should take note.

Although you want great staff, awesome enough that you can count on them to work independently, gain regular clientele, and shine like the retail stars they are — you want to make sure your business and its reputation are still the main draw for customers. The experience they receive when they walk in the door, the customer service, the follow up after the sale. Is the store clean? Are you as owners accessible if your customers have complaints about your staff and service? What are you doing to improve your business? Are repairs done in a timely fashion? Do you stand behind your services? Are visitors to your store greeted warmly and not judged by the clothes and jewelry they wear to your store? The salesperson once-over is not ignored by the customer, by the way. It’s one of the main reasons a customer feels uncomfortable shopping for jewelry to begin with.

So ask yourself, if one of your shining stars decides to leave and go to another store, are there fears that he or she is going to take customers with them? You may be shaking your head no, but when my husband left a large, corporate company to go work for a small, family-owned company, the corporate office wasn’t worried. However, my husband took 80% of that location’s clients just by saying he was moving on. He didn’t even try to take it with him. They followed him. They liked his honesty, integrity, problem-solving ability and no-nonsense approach to doing business. They didn’t care about the latest, glossiest products that weren’t right for their business. They needed expert advice from someone who cared about their business, and the value of their personal time, first. And my husband was tired of the corporate culture that had grown apart from his own personal values.

So, are you staying true to your principles? Are your salespeople in your corner? Do you listen to your employees’ opinions on how to make the customer experience better or do you think you know it all? Do you think you can always improve? I would say yes. Your reputation is on the line. Don’t be like the gym owners – ignoring complaints, not communicating with members, making empty promises—or the store you’ve built could end up being just as empty.

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