When a new client decides they are interested in your services, they place a phone call to your office and speak to your administrative assistant or receptionist. He or she takes their information and writes down what the client is looking for, then puts them on the schedule for a technician to come to their home. The technician takes the client’s information and arrives to their home for their appointment. He asks questions and completes the service accordingly. Once the technician leaves the client’s home, the interaction with this client ends without any input from you, the owner.
As a business owner, although we would love to meet with every client personally, there just isn’t enough time in a day. The “face” of your company is often not you but the people who go out into the field representing you. But who is to say that your new client is receiving the same level of service from your team as they would from you? How can you ensure that your employees are always the best representation of you and your company?
Three tools for success that I have found work well to promote a positive working environment are education, motivation, and ambition. They mold each of my employees into a “mini me” of myself, so I am confident in their ability to represent my company with our clients.
With education comes success. It is important that your employees’ knowledge is on par with yours. Nothing looks worse than when your technician is out on the field and has to call you 100 times to ask you questions. It is your job as their leader to ensure that they have every tool necessary for success. You can’t live in fear that if your team knows as much as you, that they will rise up and go out on their own. Down the line, that will lead to failure for both you and your company.
You are their leader and mentor and your turnover will increase if your employees do not feel like they can go places in your company and, yes, quite possibly, on their own one day. They need to feel empowered and providing them with the proper education gives them the confidence they need to make the right calls for the client. You will both benefit from shared knowledge.
Employees also need to feel motivated and inspired to go out every day and perform seemingly mundane tasks like service calls. I am a strong believer in a positive and happy environment driving success. Look back to your client’s chain of interaction. Let’s say that your administrative assistant is having a bad day and answers the phone with a negative attitude. The client can actually feel the negativity through the phone. Is that how we want to start off our client experience? Negativity spreads like wildfire, and it can affect the client as well as the rest of the staff and needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as you spot it.
I actually had a boss who used to bring breakfast everyday and pump loud music in the morning to lighten the mood in the office. As an owner, I borrowed this approach and use it in my office (or car for those who are riding with me) to start the day on the right foot. A full stomach, a cup of coffee, and a few good tunes can go a long way.
Results from a study by Jackson Organization in Forbes magazine showed that companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.
Positivity all comes back to you, the owner. We need to lead by example and set the tone for the staff and the day. Show them that they are appreciated and valued. Happy employees want to come to work and are willing to work harder for you, providing longer hours on some days or to going that extra mile to land a sale.
Finally, I encourage strong ambition from employees in my company. Employees have to feel like there is growth opportunity for them in your company or they will start to look elsewhere. I give them goals and push them to be better. I have my technicians demo products at home and come back to me with solutions for how they overcame obstacles. This way, when they are out on the job, they know from experience exactly what to do. This goes back to building confidence and empowering them in their own skin. They need me, but they have the tools to do it without me.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.