Monday, June 29, 2009


Drawing of a self-service store.Image via Wikipedia

Right now it is not a good time to be an employee for many companies. Many companies out there are cutting wages and other benefits right now using the economic times as a way to cut costs on the backs of their employees.

Many companies have freezed wages, lower starting salaries, and cutting any benefits they can. One of the major retail chain went through and fired all their store employees then required them to reapply for them at lower wages and fewer to no benefits.

Compare that to what a grocery store I shop at has done. They went through and gave EVERY single employee in their store a $2.00 an hour wage to help them out during these tough economic times. Many people seeing that will probably think that this was some PR thing that they did. However, the company has not publicized it because they did it to help out their employees.

If you were an employee, which company would you want to be working for?

Your employees are the biggest assets your company has, yet so many companies just look at employees as a wage cost and don't see the value they bring to the business. Is it any wonder that there is so little employee loyalty?

I am not saying that all employees are perfect and you will have some bad employees, but if you treat your employees with respect and treat them like the assets they are, you will have a better group of employees.

If you want the best employees, you need to treat them like they are.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Social Newtorking can be your friend...

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...Image by luc legay via Flickr

While many think of social networking sights as a place for friends and meeting people, there is also many opportunities to build your business and take care of problems before they arise. I will go over ideas that you should be looking at to build your business and reflect back on the situation in my previous post on how it could have been taken car of as a win-win situation.

1. You need to have a blog. I know, you are a busy person and don't have time for worthless prattle in a blog. Instead you need to look at a blog as a way to personalize your business. In your blog you can discuss new items in your store, let people know about special offers, explain how to use some items, let people know about recalls, and other information that lets them know more about your business.

2. You can also Twitter. Many people still think of Twitter as something for useless talk, but it is another opportunity to network with others and let people know what is happening with your business. You can include links to postings on your blog or to the websites of companies you do business. One thing to avoid is too many posts directing people to your website and nothing else. If that's all you post and you do it too frequently (there is people out there doing 20/30 posts and hour with this kind of stuff), then you will loose followers and your message will not get out.

3. Get yourself on Facebook and MySpace. I deal with Facebook more than I do with MySpace but make sure you have a presence on them. You can also set up your facebook account so that your twitter messages will show up on your facebook page. Not only should you have a personal page on Facebook, you should also have one for your business so which will allow people to become fans of your business and to get more information about it.

Now lets go back to the situation mentioned in my last posting. The customer who was upset with the business told all his friends on Twitter and Facebook excactly what happened. Even though the business was also on Twitter and a follower of that person, they did not respond in any way shape or form. The customer is a member of a close nit group who is the main niche of this store. While some people may continue doing business with this store do you think that some of the people that followed the customer will stop doing business with said store? Of course they will and the silence made the situation worse.

So what should the store have done? They could have made a blog post and posted links to their other social networking sights telling their side of the story and what they tried to do for the customer. Once you make your statement you do not want to say anything else. The other person will most likely want to get in a shouting match with you but no one will win in that situation. It is easy to get emotional in these situations since the person is putting down in your business but the best thing to do is sit back, let others see your side and make their decision from there.

Use social networking sights to your advantage. It is an opportunity for your customers to know you better, find new customers, give your customers more information about your business to your customers, and deal with your customer service issues.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Returns, Returns, Returns...

Word of Mouth MarketingImage by mringlein via Flickr

On several occasions I have mentioned how important it is to have a good return policy. Too many small retailers fear the thought of returns and institute somewhat draconian measures to deal with that fear. While this may result in fewer returns it also results in fewer sales because the competitors have better return policies.

Many times a small retailer will only offer in store credit on returns and some even add a restocking fee on some transactions. This type of policy will only send customers to competitors because the big box stores and many on line retailers will give refunds on purchases.

Now lets take a look at an extreme example. Say a customer purchases $150,000 in product, and the needs to return $20,000 of that product. While this kind of return would seem to be devastating in its amount, it is close to the 10% mark that I suggest you keep out of your sales to compensate for possible returns.

While the return amount may be hard on you to deal with, your customer invested a great deal of money with you and it is important that you take care of them. If you are hard nosed about the return, how do you think that person will react and tell their friends? On the other had if you take care of the customer how will the customer react and what will be the information conveyed to the friends?

Remember, word of mouth advertising is one of your most important marketing tools at your disposal. Word of mouth can make or break a small business so it is important to keep it positive. While it is impossible to please everyone, making your return policies reasonable will go a long way to keep your customers coming back to you instead of going somewhere else.

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