Everyone knows that first impressions count! I’ve just been to look at a new shed for the garden. It’s not exciting, it’s not sexy and it’s not complicated but it is amazing how wrong people can get such simple things in their businesses. Just quickly, here’s what happened…
I went to the local shed shop (they also sell fencing and other wooden garden stuff). I want to use them because they’re local and I want to support local businesses. People are always moaning about local businesses shutting down but then they buy online, so what do they expect?
Personally, I don’t expect them to be as cheap as online. Why should they be? They have overheads, they have road front premises and they have real UK staff to employ and all that entails. I don’t expect them to match prices. And I don’t expect them to be open 24/7 like the internet. But I do expect them to provide a better, more friendly, more local and more understanding service.
After parking the car I walked to the office. At least three members of staff saw me walk to the office so I didn’t ring the bell and stood and waited instead. I am not (usually) impatient and I figured that they wouldn’t just leave me there and it would be rude of me to ring the bell. But I was wrong and they did leave me there. So, after a couple of minutes, I rang the bell. And waited. And waited. After about five minutes I decided to pick up a brochure and leave. I wouldn’t be buying from them but it would be useful to use their (expensive) brochure as a reference point.
As I left, a man walked past me into the shop, totally ignoring me. I turned and he said, “Have you been served?” I said, “No” and then the phone rang and without saying, “Sorry, can you hang on a minute” or any such polite phrase he just picked the phone up and turned his back on me.
I walked out never to return.
Now, I have no idea how much this company spend on advertising but they are in the Yellow Pages. I have seen their adverts locally and they do pay for prime retail premises to catch walk in trade. They have changing signage, brochures and marked up vans. Someone somewhere thinks they want to attract business. Someone somewhere realises the importance of sales for a successful business. But what is the point of attracting business if when it arrives you treat it this way and it walks out of the door never to return?
In the UK, we like to think that we are doing everything we can to help our businesses grow, to improve our sales (at home and abroad) and to get the economy moving. But many aren’t. If you run a business you need to embrace selling. You need to make your business a veritable sales machine and you need to make sure that every customer is looked after. Here are some simple maxims…
- First impressions count, you may never get to make another.
- Everybody in your organization is a salesperson and everybody is responsible for sales.
- Your company is only as good as your weakest link.
- Sales is simple, it starts with the customer and a positive attitude.
- Smile, greet, communicate, follow through.
What can you do to encourage everyone in your business to make sure that they make a strong first impression?