There are many reasons to start a small business. They may include being passionate about the work, a desire to work for yourself, or a need to give something back to society. Successful business owners also want to retire using the money they generate from their business. In my case, this became the focus of my investment strategy. It wasn’t always, but this last “great recession” changed my mind.
I have the good fortune to talk to banks and marketplace lenders almost daily. In every case, the focus is on expanding their portfolios and reviving the branch banking system. That’s right, reviving. Branch banking is dead, but it is also in the best position to help small businesses.
Not long ago, the average business owner visited their local branch about 29 times per year. Today, it’s less than 3. With all of the banks investment in technology, banking has become easier and you can do it from anywhere. Great for the consumer, terrible for the relationship manager who used to excel at talking to his business clients who visited the branch.
Be honest. We all kind of complain about each other. It’s a normal part of being a human being. As agreeable as most people are, when it comes to dealing with others, there are still ways to improve our relationship. Even when our motto is “the customer is always right”, with a little nudge they could be perfect!
During the last few years I have spent a lot of time with small business bankers. The conversation generally turns to examples from our past experiences, both wonderful and horrible. It is during these conversations that I noticed a common theme among the things that annoy the banker. It is interesting because for over 20 years, I was on the business owner side of the desk. Not only that, I was guilty of some of their annoyances.
Are you hoping to turn your small business into your retirement? Then you should know how to build goodwill! Goodwill is the amount of money someone will pay you for your business, over and above the value of the assets. It’s a big imaginary number that represents how well you run your business, and how safe a purchaser thinks your business is to buy.
Have you ever placed a car you own up for sale? What is the first thing you do? You clean it up. You fix the things that need it. You get the french fries out from between the seats. You get the car ready to present to someone else with the hope that it will attract top dollar. It’s natural for us to do this. We are trying to get the most out of our car.
A curious thing happens right after you clean up your old vehicle. Especially, if you are still driving it daily. You get behind the wheel. You like the way it rides better, smells better, looks better, etc. You even start to think, “This is a pretty nice car.” All of the issues that made you ready to sell have suddenly disappeared. What a bonus! You get the benefit of riding in a “pretty nice car” throughout the entire period that it sits on the market. In the end, you get an offer that makes you happy. In the meantime, you received the benefit of a car that was providing the operator with great value.
Look at any place where small businesses exist and you are bound to see a variety of businesses experiencing varying degrees of success. Some are struggling to keep the doors open, while others seem to be defying the odds. If you’re a small business owner, you might even be wondering how they do it. You appear to be operating in the same economy, with possibly the same offering, but they do it better. They have IT, but what do they have?
Whether you’re a small business or a multi-billion dollar corporation, customer success is essential for keeping and growing your business. Every conversation, engagement and experience with your company must be thoughtfully designed to the very last detail. Because in this day and age, if your customers aren’t happy there is competitor around the corner ready to ease their burden. Here are six ways to get happier customers today.