Monthly Archives: March 2020

Care for your team

care for your team

How you respond and what you do now in these uncertain times will certainly be remembered in years to come, by your team, your customers and your community, and in turn will have an impact on how quickly your businesses recovers once the lockdown is over.

Last week I talked about keeping in touch with your customers. This week my focus is on how you care for your team, who quite understandably will be concerned for their safety, their income and the future of their jobs.

Before the lockdown we were concerned about attracting and retaining talent. Now we have the opposite; what to do with the talent we have. But one thing is for certain, this situation won’t last forever and unless you look after them now and show you care for your team now you’ll likely be back to the search for talent once this is all over.

Here are 5 ideas to show you care about your team and have their best interests at heart throughout the crisis.

I’m sure they’re doing most of these already, but this will act as a reminder.

And let me know what else you are doing to care for your team.

Personal safety

Keeping your front-line team members safe is the priority. If you still have team members travelling into work or having contact with customers, do they have all the necessary precautionary measures:

  • Give a choice as to whether they work or not
  • Have a means of getting to work without having to use crowded public transport
  • Have procedures in place to avoid direct contact with others
  • Have access to appropriate PPE

Resources

If your team members are working from home, ensure they have what they need to do the best job possible:

  • Access to information e.g. via your shared folders, Google docs, or whatever you use internally
  • The right equipment; an iPad might be great for small tasks, but has limitations, particularly older models.
  • A reliable IT connection (which can vary at different times of day, depending on demand)
  • Access to reliable, knowledgeable and helpful IT support; you don’t want them wasting time searching YouTube for answers to simple problems

Be flexible

Yes, there may have to be systems and processes in place for some activities, but new ways of working need new ‘rules’:

  • What flexibility do they have around the hours they work to fit in with others at home – partners, children or other dependents.
  • Play to people’s strengths and demonstrate your trust by delegating control and ownership, which creates a sense of pride

Stay connected

Whether working at home or in the business, ensure you keep your team connected – both to you, and each other.

  • Maintain a routine for daily check-ins, when everyone knows they can connect with everyone else (Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams* will allow you to do this). Stick to a schedule or same time each day, so everyone can plan
  • Be open, honest and factual. Focus on what you can do for them rather than dwelling on what you can’t do
  • Keep them informed of any of the Government advice that is relevant to them and/or the business as a whole
  • Offer emotional support
  • Keep the team spirit alive, and share some fun and positive achievements, stories or anecdotes

Show you care

Even when social distancing or working remotely all the normal rules of care apply, if not, even more so:

  • Don’t forget your normal common courtesies; a simple sunny and cheerful good morning, saying please and thank you, is just as important as at any other time.
  • Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems
  • Be approachable; not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, so be observant and look/listen for the signs of cries for help, so you don’t leave people feeling abandoned
  • Continue to invest in people’s personal development; in most cases they’ll have more time on their hands now (even if just a saving on travel time), so allow them the opportunity to use this time to everyone’s advantage
  • The most obvious and easiest thing you can do to show your team you care about them is to make a point of thanking them for their support and commitment during these difficult times. It’s stressful for them as well as you.

If you only do one thing:

Every offer of support counts. Let people know you’re there for them, even if the offer never gets taken up. You don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring to know that you’re there to support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or a personal issue.

Remember, as Maya Angelou said “…people will never forget how you made them feel”, so make sure your team feel cared for.

Related post: https://www.naturallyloyal.com/10-ways-to-show-your-team-some-love/

YouTube: Show your team your Care

* but I’m no expert on this, so please seek professional advice if you need it.


How to Keep Your Customers Attention

How to Keep Your Customers

My heart goes out to you and your team at this difficult time.

I believe it is important we do whatever we can now to put things in place that will help us spring back into action the moment the ‘go’ light comes back on.

One of those actions is to…

Stay on your customers’ radar to keep your customers

You’ve worked so hard to find them in the past, and I’m sure you’ll want to do everything we can to keep your customers and get them back once this situation is over.

Keeping in touch is a great way to continue to maintain the relationship with your customers and keep you in their mind when the time comes for a return visit or when asked to make a recommendation.

There are so many options to stay on their radar, and what works best for you is dependent on your audience, be that social media, email or good old fashioned snail mail, which with a hand written envelope, will always get someone’s attention far more effectively than 10 emails.

Irrespective of the format, the important thing is to stay on their radar (obviously observing GDPR guidelines – check Information Commissioner’s Office website www.ico.gov.uk) .

What’s happening

Keep your customers up to date with what’s going on.

  • What services (if any) are you still offering. How can people access these? Do they need to cancel any existing bookings or orders if they can’t be fulfilled?
  • Are you taking future bookings with a guarantee of a refund if it can’t go ahead?
  • What’s happening with your team during the outbreak.
  • What are you doing to support your local community?

This isn’t an excuse for a “PLOM party” (Poor Little Old Me) – it’s to talk about the positives that are coming out of this, and to demonstrate to your customers you are still true to your values.

What have you planned for the year ahead?

Maybe you haven’t planned this far ahead yet. So, if that’s the case, ask your customers what they’d like to see.

Keep Your Customers by Adding Value

The quickest and easiest way to create an impression and get remembered by your customers is to send a thank you note to show you appreciate their custom and loyalty in the past, and show you care and are thinking about them.

But, what can you do to educate your customers, whilst building credibility and adding value?

Could you share your knowledge or expertise by giving online classes (or at the very least share ideas via your mailing list or social media) to engage with your customers? With modern technology it’s easy to record and share these lessons either live or pre-recorded.

For example…

  • Ask your head chef to provide a recipe of the week, tips on baking the perfect meringue or crusty bread, a buyers’ guide to choosing fresh fish, easy recipe ideas based on what is in season right now, or anything related to what would normally be on the menu right now.
    .
  • If you are a park or garden, ask your gardening team to share seasonal tips. Or tips from the kitchen garden.
    .
  • For golf courses, share tips on the latest equipment, or techniques to hone their swing.
    .
  • From the spa, ask your spa team to share information on relaxation techniques (much needed right now!), aromatherapy remedies, tips for the perfect pedicure, skin care regimes, etc, whilst they can’t get these done for them.
    .
  • Ask housekeeping for tips on stain removal, cleaning household items such as glass, leather, silk etc. so people can make use of their time stuck at home.
    .
  • If you are a wedding venue ask any of your joint venture partners or preferred suppliers such as florist, photographer, limousines, suit hire for their top tips. Couples will still be getting married even if the event is postponed.
    .
  • If your target market are families with young children, share 10 ideas to keep the kids entertained whilst they are stuck at home.
    .
  • Create a prize draws or competition, with relevant prizes from your own products or services for when you are back to normal.

Get ready for the green light

When we get the first signs things look like getting back to normal, build a sense of anticipation with your customers. What have you planned?

Rebuild the relationship and get your customers excited about the prospect of a visit.

Create a sense of intrigue and curiosity; tell them about your plans, changes you’re making, what’s new (e.g. your new menu, new toiletries, changes to products or services). You then have a reason to invite them back or make an offer.

Send an exclusive invitation to something you’ve got planned that you know they’d love. Start a priority waiting list, so they can jump the queue. Pique their interest with teaser campaigns. Offer incentives for early booking to get the cash flowing again.

Offer your help in booking complementary services – restaurants, (yours or JV partners’), entertainment, outings, taxis, accommodation, attractions. etc. Anything that will make their stay or visit with you easy and ultimately more memorable.

No one wants to be bombarded with sell, sell, sell messages, so strike a balance between letting them know what you’re doing with enough juice to capture their interest without being too salesy.

If you want to keep your customers, don’t leave a return visit (or referral) to chance. Ensure you’re keeping yourself in your customers’ minds; keep in touch.

So when all this is over, you’re the first place people think of to get them out of the house! And keep your customers sane…

Related post “Building a Mailing List



How to keep your team engaged

how to keep your team engaged

How to keep your team engaged

It’s hard enough as a business owner in the best of times. And now more so than ever with the uncertainly and loss of business.

You and I both know that how our team is feeling can have an impact on customers and colleagues alike. So, when times are tough, they are feeling anxious too, and this has a knock-on impact on everyone.

If you want your team to put on a brave face this starts with you.

So, here are my 7 tips to keep your team engaged and productive in these challenging times.

1. Keep your team informed

Your team need reassurance, but they also need to know where they stand. Make a clear statement to your team and be honest with them. For example, if you know you can’t sustain your current staffing levels, discuss the situation openly with them. No one wants to lose their job, but your team will be aware if the impact on your business. Consider reduced hours which may be preferable to redundancy, and increases your chances of retaining that employee once the crisis is over.

I’m not an employment law specialist so I’m not going to advise on process, but suffice to say, follow current advice from your HR advisors.

2. Keeping busy

When you’re quiet it’s easy to slip into bad habits or fritter away time on meaningless tasks. Now’s an opportunity to catch up on all those non urgent but nonetheless important tasks you’ve been shelving for months. The review of your website, staff training, writing up procedures or SOPs. What better time to review your food safety procedures and training?

3. Promote teamwork

Play to the strengths of your team, and ensure they can cover one another if anyone needs to self-isolate, or you need to reduce people’s shifts. Define everyone’s areas of responsibility so there are no gaps and no duplication of effort.

4. Get creative

Look for opportunities. Are there any alternative services you could be providing for customers reluctant to come and visit you in person? A take-away service or home delivery?

Ask your team for ideas and suggestions, and show them you value their opinion. Look around you to see what other businesses with similar offerings are doing. What can you learn from them? Reach out to your customers and ask them what they’d appreciate. (Staying in touch with your customers is a whole topic in itself, so I’ll share my tips on that next week.)

5. Time Off

Stress the importance of staying away if they have any symptoms. Make and share a plan for staff wages so people don’t feel undue financial pressure to work when they are sick. If you can, basic pay for hourly staff who cannot work because they are ill.

In the UK: Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will be available from Day 1 for those unable to work because they are diagnosed with coronavirus, or self-isolating according to Government guidelines.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

6. Pay attention

Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when people have concerns so you act on these quickly. When everyone is focused on the negatives, it’s easy to miss the tell-tale signs of those who need more from you.

Be approachable, listen and observe so you can provide support when it’s needed.

7. Play from a 10

Lead by example and be a role model. If you are all doom and gloom this inevitably rubs off one your team and in turn, your customers too.

As Zig Zigler said “A positive attitude won’t help you do anything, but it will help you do everything better than a bad attitude will.

Take Action

If you only do one thing to keep your team engaged: Take a few moments today to share your situation with your team. Allow for questions and be prepared to meet with team members in private if they ask.

Here is a Coronavirus Guide for the F&B Industry http://fnbcovidguide.com/

Today’s top tip

Stay on your customers’ radar. Even if business is slow, maintain your relationship and keep contact with your customers, so when things get back to normal you’re the first business they come back to. This is a subject in itself and I’ll talk more about this next week.

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Old Habits

old habits

Old Habits Die Hard

If you’ve ever tried to give up smoking (or any other bad habit) you’ll know just how difficult that can be. Most people really do need a very compelling reason to do so.

Breaking habits isn’t just confined to ‘bad’ habits.

Take last Saturday as an example. I go to a regular exercise class on a Saturday and have been doing so for the past 20 years or so. Last year I quit my old leisure club (a really poor customer experience, but that’s a story for another day!) in favour of a new leisure centre – same class, different instructor.

There’s one move we did on Saturday which we haven’t done in her class before. It’s a move I’ve done before, but she approached it in a slightly different way. And, however many times I repeated it, I kept doing it wrong – either in the way my old instructor did it, or, in an attempt to do it in the new way, I went completely wrong!

The thing is, as we all know, old habits die hard. Which means if you want someone in your team to do things in a certain way, sometimes you need to break the old habit first.

During training you normally set expectations, establish the standards or process, and hopefully give people an opportunity to practise their skills in a safe environment.

But, as soon as they get back to the workplace – the slightest obstacle will send people back to their old comfortable way of doing it.

It’s all too easy for people to revert, particularly if that feels more comfortable, is easier or is quicker.

Human nature says we’ll always take the path of least resistance!

There may be some old habits people have got into as a result of time pressures, poor equipment or simply cutting corners. These too can end up being the new norm, the embedded habits that need to be broken before going back to a previous ‘right’ way.

But even when you’ve picked them up on the same thing, time and time again, of course, this is frustrating for you, but it’s probably just as frustrating for them if they really don’t know what it is they’re doing wrong. Particularly when they really do want to get it right.

Here are 6 things you can do to help break the old habits

Creating Conscious Incompetence

People won’t drop an old habit unless they know there is a need to change. So we need to move them from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/conscious-incompetence/ ). Will it make their job easier or quicker? Will it make the task more enjoyable? Will it please customers and lead to more tips or fewer complaints? Will it help their teammates?

What to do differently?

Sometimes there are only subtle differences between the right way and the old habit. Once people know what’s wrong and why, it’s considerably easier for them to grasp the right way; or even to identify the right way for themselves.

Be specific on the tangible and measurable indicators, the differences between the right way and the wrong way. This will make it easier for the other person to realise and measure their own performance, and more likely to spot when they’ve slipped back.

What’s the impact?

If people understand the end result they’re aiming for, this can help clarify why something is right versus why something is wrong. They can often see or feel for themselves that the wrong way doesn’t achieve the result they want and vice versa.

Measures of success

Quantitative standards or pointers are easier to interpret than qualitative ones. For example, if you want the phone answered quickly, specify in how many rings. When it comes to qualitative standards, it can be far more open to personal interpretation, so giving examples and/or demonstrations (and of course leading by example) can be helpful, but still be prepared to make the comparison between the right way and the wrong way. Often, it’s subtle little nuances that make all the difference to reflect your service culture or improve employee productivity.

I can’t

Look out for and listen for hesitation. If they believe they can’t do it find out why. Is it due to time, resources, authority? Is it due to confidence? Maybe they simply need a little more feedback, support and coaching.

Patience

It takes time to establish new habits; to create a new norm, some say as many as 66 times. So, if it’s a task people only do once a day, this might take 2 months or more. So be patient. Continue to monitor, coach and correct as needed until the new habit is simply second nature.

Take Action

If you only do one thing: be prepared to give further coaching, support and feedback until they have formed new habits.

Today’s top tip

Conduct daily buzz briefings to inform the team on what’s happening in your business on a day-to-day basis. Which customers you’re expecting today, when will there be peaks, what’s happening elsewhere in the business, in your industry or locality which could have a knock on effect on your customers?


Reward Customer Loyalty

reward customer loyalty

How to reward customer loyalty

I had the honour of speaking at an event last week. Not quite my typical event; this was for Farmers Weekly and the attendees were all farmers diversifying or looking to diversify into other businesses, such as hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses. Anything from farm visits with a visitor centre cafe, to online retail of farm produce to bed and breakfasts and camp sites. I learnt so much about the practical considerations for diversifying.

This was in the Lake District and waking up to the view of the snow capped mountains behind Lake Windermere was beautiful. I have to say, this must be the first time I have presented from a farmers’ auction ring! 

As we know, it’s always easier and more cost effective to get more business from an existing customer than to get business from a new customer. My talk focused on some of the pitfalls which leave customers feeling they’ve had a mediocre experience, and having nothing much to compel them to come back again or recommend a venue or business to others. 

One of these pitfalls is leaving customers feeling unappreciated.

This is the number 1 reason customers give for switching to a competitor. Too many businesses only reward new customers in a bid to attract new business, but fail to do anything – or at best very little – to reward the loyalty of existing customers.

How does this make you feel when you are the customer and see offers only applicable to first time customers?

Here are 7 ideas to overcome this potential pitfall, by giving customers recognition and reward customer loyalty to make them feel special…

1. Say thank you

Do something or send something that shows you appreciate their custom. As a minimum this might be a simple but sincere verbal thank you, or a follow up thank you email (observing any GDPR guidelines naturally).  There may be times when you’ve welcomed guests or friends of your existing customers, maybe as part of a party. So, thank both the existing customer and the new customer who’s visited you for the first time.

2. Ask for feedback

A follow up thank you is also a second opportunity to get feedback too. Ask them about their experience. Did it meet or exceed their expectations? Ask for specifics such as what they enjoyed most and any ideas, comments or suggestions they have to make the experience even better. If they’ve previously given feedback, it’s an opportunity to let them know what you’ve done as a result, helping to re-establish trust.

3. Snail Mail

A simple personalised thank you note will not only show your appreciation, but it will give them something to remember you by. There’s nothing quite like something sent by good old-fashioned snail mail.  Even better, if it’s personalised and handwritten on a hand-picked greetings card.

Some think in this web-based age this is out-dated; how would your customers react to receiving something personal in the post, rather than clogging up their email inbox?

4. Rewarding loyalty

Perhaps you want to do a little bit more for your special or regular customers to reward customer loyalty; those that have been your perfect customers and you’d like to see a lot more of (and the chances are they’ll know lots of other people just like themselves, who they might be inclined to tell about you), the organisers of events, anyone who has made referrals that’s brought you extra business over the year, for giving you a glowing testimonial or review, or simply because they put their trust and faith in you to deliver something extraordinary for a special occasion.

Something that’s exclusive, not available to the masses makes people feel special and valued. It could be a simple token memento, or an exclusive offer, or useful information or tips that’s relevant to your business and customers’ interests. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive; it’s the thought that’s gone into it that counts.

5. Personalisation

Never under estimate the impact when you remember someone’s name or their personal preferences.  Do they have any particular likes and dislikes, what is their favourite product, brand, or combinations, do they have any particular requirements?

Do you know any of the personal circumstances that may be relevant to offer something special e.g. their birthday or any special anniversaries, kids’ names and ages, key things happening in their world?

Remembering such details will always be appreciated. Record their personal details and any special requirements so whoever is on duty the welcome your customer receives is consistent.

However, personalisation is not a means of selling or marketing products or services that they do not want or need, but showing you’ve listened and care about them as individuals. It’s about helping them make choices that will delight and enhance their experience with your venue or business. Showing you know and understand them will always be appreciated and increase loyalty and add lifetime value.

6. Celebrate

Mark key milestones in your relationship: thank them when they’ve been with you for a year, or on subsequent anniversaries, when they’ve concluded a big event, when you’ve worked with them on a big project or programme or when they’ve just upgraded to a particular level of service.

7. Reciprocity

The law of reciprocity means that if you give something to your loyal customers you are setting the stage for them to do something for you in return. Whether this is repeat business, a referral or maybe a testimonial, any one of these will add benefit to your business.  So, the more you can do to show your appreciation the greater the chance of staying on their radar and of them remaining loyal to you.

If you only do one thing to reward customer loyalty:

Introduce the concept of GLUE.  Watch here for an explanation:  https://youtu.be/aWQtQx8tMtU or go to an earlier post here https://www.naturallyloyal.com/give-little-unexpected-extras-to-enhance-the-customer-experience/

Today’s top tip

This Friday (6th March) is Employee Appreciation Day. So as well as showing you appreciate your customers, do something to show you appreciate your team, even if it’s just a simple heartfelt thank you.

One way to show you appreciate them and care about them is to ask for anonymous feedback.

Here is the perfect platform to do just that.