I love the work of Brendon Burchard…if you’ve never heard of him, check out his info. There’s no fluffiness, no extroverted person jumping up and down in videos (not to say he doesn’t have amazing amounts of energy, but he saves that for his live seminars). I’ve studied his books and videos for probably the last 3 years, and one of my favorite phrases of his is, “don’t let your small business make you small minded.” There are a million things I could add to this, but I’ll just explain 8 things that as a small business-owner, completely perturb me. I am NOT an expert in business coaching, but I’ve had 23 years of customer service and corporate America business training – some business skills should just be common sense. I treat my customers as I wish to be treated, and learn from those who offer outstanding service. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as much in the small business world, as much as it should, Here are 8 pet peeves of mine. Next week, pet peeves from a completely DIFFERENT type of business, though we all have the same primary function….to serve you, the customer.
1 – Don’t return calls or answer emails. Too many times, I’ve had repairmen say they’ll call back, friends not answer emails about business opportunities I’m sending them, or an agent say they’ll call you back, and never do. I’m not saying you have to respond immediately, but you have to respond within 48 hours max in this day and age, even if you’re not able to give a direct response. Just acknowledge the client who pays your bills by letting them know you got their request and you’re busy but will call/email, etc. in the next x, y ,z # of days.
2 – Giving inaccurate timeframes, on a consistent basis, such as “I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” Let’s be honest. Sh*t happens. If you’re relying on someone else to give you information so you can make a call back, you cannot promise anything. All you can do, is keep your customer abreast of the situation. We all occasionally make a promise we can’t keep. If you’re one of those people who does it repeatedly, please stop. You’re hurting yourself, upsetting your customers, and will be out of a job, if you keep it up. This also goes for being late for appointments. Stop doing it – it’s rude, and it IS a habit that can be broken, if you truly care enough about what you’re doing.
3 – Not saying thank you. I’m not even sure why I should have to say this, but it’s such a repetitive issue, it clearly needs to be stated. I feel like I’m overly grateful or that it comes across as inauthentic at times, though this is very much not the case. The fact is, I feel this way because people are very unappreciative. If you’re one of those people, please understand no one will want to do business with you. EVERYONE is replaceable, and whether a dime is put directly in your pocket, EVERYONE is your customer! Just because someone only spent $5 on a product, makes them no less valuable…they deserve your appreciation. I’m not saying give away your time, but last time I checked, “thank you!” took about 3 seconds to say or type.
4 – Giving incorrect bartering amounts. This was a lesson I was taught by my coach several years ago, as I’m guilty of undercharging in a bartering situation. If both parties are in a service business or can barter services, then either both charge full price, or barter the same discounted amount. When I bartered with a yoga instructor, it was the first time someone actually honored this tactic on their own – I gave her a discount of 20% on my end, so she did the same for me…without me asking! Most of my friends who are very business-oriented, advise clients of the regular price and then the discount, for a couple of reasons (it’s not just to pull one over on the customer). Clients/customers need to understand your pricing and the deal they’re getting. They need to be appreciative of what you’re offering (or else you may want to reconsider that relationship). Finally, if it’s a barter situation, they need to barter the same amount. Exchanging energy of any kind at a discount when someone else doesn’t is unfair, unethical and plain bad business. It leads to resentment.
5 – Being afraid to price properly (this is my personal favorite). People rarely understand the service your providing, because they don’t do it. Most of us in the spiritual world go thru different training courses for the same certification. Yet we pay different amounts for our training, and have different teachers and skill sets. Your time is valuable, but you also can’t cheat your customers. Just because a highly trained and experienced reiki practitioner charges $200 for a session or $10 to answer one question, doesn’t mean you can. What’s your own experience in your market? What’s your overhead? What’s your FUTURE overhead, so you’re not being inconsistent with pricing and raising it every 6 months? If you have questions about pricing, please ask SBDC or the SBA for pricing info. Check score.org for info. (SBDC is the Small Business Development Center, and SBA is the Small Business Administration). If you don’t have a business and know nothing about what goes into running one, please do not question prices outright. There are many hidden costs that go into running ANY business, regardless of the field.
6 – Be authentic and transparent. This doesn’t mean posting what you had for dinner every day, nor your fights with your spouse. It means being authentic in what you believe, being consistent in your image, and being professional. Remember that everyone can see social media—you are being unfortunately, judged by every post. If you consistently bash people, it will be picked up on, and you will appropriately lose business. Please don’t be petty. Share your dreams and ambitions, and share your struggles (as long as they don’t involve someone else). Share what inspires you, so people see who runs your company. But don’t post things for attention, and to rally people on your side.
7 – Be patient. All good things take time. This goes for being a master of one thing instead of trying to do 5,000 things. It takes time to build an empire and 2 months is not long enough. I spent a year teaching to perhaps one person until it built to 3 people, and sometimes 5. I refuse to give up, though I may change my style, RSVP requirements, or subject matter. I also ask for feedback, to see how I can improve. Stay focused.
8 – Partner properly. No matter which side you’re on, both partners need to share the other’s information. What makes you think people will magically buy something in your store that you just started carrying, if you’re not endorsing it? If you say you’ll put someone on your website, do it!
What are your pet peeves as a customer, or as a business owner? Share them here! I’d love to make a part II, with the information you give me! (As a side note, a good amount of this information came from friends and their frustrations—they aren’t all my own!)