Do you remember the excitement on the first day of opening in your new venture? The newly created business, the achieved new position in your career, the launch of a special product or service you pulled together? It was magic because it was earned. It was fresh because it was new. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Presumably. But it was also a great learning experience and, ultimately, one that mapped out your future in terms of your reputation within your industry. And, likely as not, your tide of determination and enthusiasm carried on though to your staff and customers.
As time goes on, however, and as we become complacent in our success, the level of energy and focus may not remain the same, nor the continual development of satisfying our customers whether it be on stimulating new products and services or the style in which you deliver. Think about that for a moment. Are you too successful for your own good? This is where the advantage lies for the never-ending influx of competition. Are you still as hungry as you were for the business or taking the success for granted? This is the danger of not being in tune with the continually changing nature of it. Because it will change, at exponential speeds.
During a recent conversation with James, a friend of mine with his own company, who’s first job many years ago was in service at a small restaurant, it was related to me something that has stayed with him since. It was five minutes to closing (you know the drill) and a new customer walked in the door while James was tidying up. He looked to the Shopkeeper for an indication of how he was to ‘handle it’. The owner simply looked at him and said “We treat every customer like it’s the first customer of the day.” And so, James proceeded to serve his customer’s needs until they were satisfied. Sound simple? It’s only simple if it’s practiced. Otherwise it’s just noise.
In contrast, Melissa, a young friend of mine who is working part time in retail while attending university (for fashion design no less) had the opposite experience. A client entered at ten minutes to closing and her so-called ‘Manager’ on duty rolled her eyes and exclaimed “Doesn’t she know we have a life?” It might be noted here that the sales staff earn commission. Also worth noting is this young woman proceeded to graciously assist the customer to her fullest capacity.
Don’t just say it or believe it, practice it. Then practice some more. Get everyone on the same page. Let it be always pleasurable and your customers will show their appreciation. Always remember what you are there to do, and how. Everyone should be still dancing until the music stops. You will know if everyone is if you are still involved the same way you were when you started. Remember when you were ‘listening’ to the market, to your customers, to your staff? Ask all the same questions you did then. Ask yourself if you are still delivering on your promise? (This terminology is explained in my book ‘Be Ready To Dance With Your Customer…’)
Here is your strategy. First answer the following questions. Truthfully.
How well do you know what’s happening on ‘the floor’?
Are you still ‘listening’ and prepared to improve or innovate?
Are you staff just as excited as they were on opening day?
Is your product or service still fresh and exciting?
Are YOU still as fresh and exciting as you were? Or are you overworked and stressed and no longer finding the joy in it?
Now it’s time to rethink and strategize, to put that energy back, make a change, revamp if you have to, including yourself, if you found any no answers. The more no’s the further up the sleeves get rolled. And don't slouch, put your heart into it. You're the leader, be one. Show them. Keep it simple and clean.
Be ready every day like it’s the most important day.
Treat your last Customer of the day like it’s the first Customer of the day.
Treat every day like it’s Opening Day.