Tighten Up!

For those of you who know me well, you know that this is one of my favorite phrases. These two words are usually all that is necessary to let someone know that they are not living up to their potential or they are goofing off when it is time to be serious. Based on several recent interactions with local small business, it is necessary for me to tell them to Tighten Up

Let's review a few basics that too many small businesses still don't seem to "get":

Do What You Say You're Going To Do.

If you tell a customer that you are going to call them back or meet them at a pre-arranged time, then do it. Simple, right? Not so much. I have attempted to patronize at least three businesses over the past few weeks who have failed miserably at this task. One business said that they would call me back and never did - even after I gave them a second chance and called them back. Another business scheduled an appointment to provide a service only to reach out to me the morning of to 1)Ask if we were still meeting and 2)Then attempt to reschedule for 2 hours later. And a third business owner reached out to me 45 minutes after our scheduled appointment to inform me that he was on the way. (He had previously told me that he expected to show up early.)

Even more alarming was that all three business came personally recommended from three different sources. Needless to say that I did not give either of those companies my hard earned money.

Spellcheck

It's sad to say that in our age of communicating to each other with a  maximum of 140-characters-at-a-time that too many people are unable to write grammatically correct. Before you start to defend the position of "English is not my strongest subject", understand that as a business owner you may need people around you to compliment your weaknesses. If you are not strong at financials, hire someone who is. If you are struggling to reach new customers, get someone to help you with marketing. If you are writing ANYTHING that a potential customer will see, use spellcheck AND have someone else proofread it! This goes for your website as well. Your website is a validator of your business so if you just throw something together just to show you have a url address, (potential) customers will feel that you will take the same lackluster approach with them.

It is true that you only have one chance to make a first impression. And what do you think that first impression is if you have misspelled words and grammatical errors?

Look Through The Eyes Of Your Customer, Not Your Own

Too many business owners I've encountered think that just because they are "the boss" means they get to do everything their way. For example, just because your favorite color is green doesn't mean that your company color should be green. (Green can invoke a sense of growth with your customers - like the Starbucks brand - when in fact your business may be strongly based on trust and dependability, hence the blue in American Express.) And yes I did deliberately choose the colors Green and Blue as my company colors! 

Other examples of when business owners neglect to research the market before making a decision include: business name, logo creation, use of a favorite song or genre of music in store or on their website and communication methods with customers. The choices you make may invoke a positive feeling for you personally but that doesn't mean they will do the same for your customers. Ample time needs to be spent on market research before introducing your business to the public.

Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending how you look at it - if you can just follow these simple steps you will be WAY ahead of your competition and well on your way to success!