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HOW TO THRIVE IN A TOUGH MARKET!
Have you been listening to the news lately … "It's tough out there! Customers are not spending like they used to! You had better start cutting costs and limit spending. Don't replenish your stock as fast … and hire the inexperienced one that doesn't want as much pay … at least they can work Sundays!!"
How easy is it to buy into this hysteria and let your business become paralysed by the fear factor affecting so many businesses right now? It's astonishing how easily we can succumb to the horrors of daily media hype and start to argue for our limitations.
Let's stop focusing on the issues outside of our business and start focusing on what we can do inside the business. The first and most important area to concentrate on now is the skill level of your staff. This is THE most important time to be training your team … customers may be being a little more frugal but they ARE still buying. The only problem is there usually isn't anyone around willing to take their money!! Let me prove something to you … take 30 minutes out of your day and go shopping. I think you will be surprised at how seldom the salesperson actually works for your business. For a tough market, it's surprising how few businesses have changed their tactics to capture and keep the customers they do have!
If you want to prosper and thrive in today's current climate then you need to be doing what your opposition isn't. We need to be able to give the customer a solid, memorable experience that will keep them coming back. You don't want satisfied customers; you want absolute advocates who are so loyal they bring their friends and family back with them. But that requires a game plan …
So how do we do that and more importantly how do we get our staff to do that. I have a real issue with business people who want to create better results but are not willing to do what it takes to make it happen. Sometimes we have to replace our wish bone for a backbone and take some serious affirmative action.
Here a few tips to help you shake your business up and meet these challenging times head on with courage and vigor!
1. Have a dynamic, passionate team.
When it comes time to start hiring new employees, be fussy! If you find that you're rationalising your choices halfway through an interview, then you're going to make a decision you'll regret. If they don't WOW you on the "first date", I don't think its going to get any better! The right person stands out. Also hire different people because your customers are different people. Teach your team how to respond to different personality types. Do thorough reference checks and don't leave anything to chance. Remember an empty house is far better than a bad tenant!
2. Give your team a reason to stay!
It's like rape and pillage with staffing and recruitment. Someone offers an extra 20c an hour and you lose all of your team! Give them a reason to be loyal. People stay to build experience. Have a powerful training program that promotes not only their professional skills but also their personal development. More importantly, coach everyday! Have an incentive scheme - employers who reward through remuneration should be rewarding through positive reinforcement as well. When a team member leaves, people usually say great things about them. Perhaps if we had said these things during their tenure, they never would have left. Praising is such an easy thing to do and the outcomes are far more positive.
3. Train, Train and Train!
For a business to truly maxmise its goals and extract the greatest possible results from sales staff, training is essential. There is the old line, "What if I train my staff and they leave? … Well what if you don't train them and they stay?" A smart business person knows that there is a definite need to continually develop the skills of their team. Training is not a one time occurrence; it should be a daily reinforcement. Training is not TELLING your staff what to do; it is an actual process of ensuring they have the skills and dialogue to ensure a successful outcome with the customer. Where energy goes, attention flows!
3. Keep communicating!
Share your vision of the business with your team. Be positive and show no fear or uncertainty. A true leader does not pollute their team with their own personal insecurities. Lead from the front with courage and positive input. If they see you being proactive and enthusiastic, then they will usually adopt those behaviours. Remember people follow what we do, not what we say. Sometime you really do have to "fake it till you make it!'
Most importantly, just keep focusing on what you want, not what you don't want. It is so easy to "juice" up on all of the drama that is in the market place at present. Stay grounded in the fact that you have a great business and that you have loyal and passionate staff. You will come through this period much stronger and more polished than you have ever been before. Business is cyclic so use this time to be sharper, faster, stronger and fitter! Give your team someone they would be proud to follow and forget about the customers that are not in your business - you're probably ignoring the ones that are right there in front of you! Have FUN and see you on the other side!