As I coach entrepreneurs, CEOs and business leaders all over the world, I get this question a lot. “What are the big things you did to grow your company?” There are many things I have done in many facets to grow my company, but this is the one thing I always share. Your business will only grow to the degree that you serve and inspire your customers. Without raving fans and excited promoters of your brand, it will not last. As I have spent the last decade growing M & E Painting, and now growing MattShoup.com, here are my top 8 tried and true customer service tidbits to grow a base of raving fans that keep coming back for more.
- Smile when you speak to and interact with your customers. The energy, emotion and output that you share will come across with more positivity. Notice their reaction the next time you sincerely smile when you are interacting with a customer, and take note of your reaction when someone serving you is smiling vs. not.
- It has been said that hearing your own first name is one of the sweetest sounds in language, so when you are speaking to a customer, call them by their first name.
- Drop in an unexpected freebee from time to time. As M & E Painting has grown, we would give unexpected free services or small extra add-ons that went a long way. For example, one cold, snowy day we were painting the interior of a customer’s home. As we were reloading the ladders to the van, we noticed the drive had not been shoveled yet. Two of our crew members quickly shoveled her drive.
- One of the quickest ways to impress is to always under promise then over deliver. When you set an expectation and don’t meet it, bad things happen. Set it and meet it, you are just like every other company doing what you are supposed to do. Where you will set yourself apart is when you set an expectation and then go above and beyond.
- Think people not profit. Too many times, I see companies focus on projections, profits, quotas and margins. While this is important, many seem to forget that what makes all these things happen is serving people. Keep in mind the true needs and desires of your customers, and focus on those first. Think of your business as a vehicle to make a person’s life better, and put all your attention and energy into that. Look for ways to always be serving and bringing value to your customer’s life.
- Understand human behavior. All people are wired to behave differently. Think of this wiring as a specific language one speaks as they behave. Some make quick decisions, some slow. Some people are introverted vs. extroverted. Some focus on the task at hand while others consider the people involved. When you can learn the language your customer speaks and adapt to it, you can make their life better, thus making your business better. Click here to learn more about how this quick FREE assessment can tell you what language you speak in business and leadership.
- It is easy to take 100% ownership, accountability and responsibility when things go right. Now, take that same 100% when things go wrong. I once painted a house I was not supposed to (watch the video about it here). Imagine that look on that customer’s face, well, he really wasn’t a customer, when he pulled up the driveway to his half painted house! I had to own up to the big mistake I made. There were a few brief moments when I thought he was going to kill me, but when that settled down, he was appreciative and thankful that we made the mistake right and fixed his home. When you drop the ball, pick it up, hit a home run and make things right. This is where your true character and real values will shine through.
- Remember, some people will never be happy. Choose your customers wisely. If you have done all of the first seven things phenomenally, and your customer still is unhappy, they may never be happy. It is completely okay to let a customer go.
As you undertake the daily adventure of business, keep these 8 tips in mind. When you become an expert at these, your business will thrive and you will create raving fans for life.
I would love to hear stories and feedback of people who have implemented these strategies and what your results have been. Also, are there any other ideas you have implemented with great success? I would love to hear them. Please post a comment down below.
*This blog is based off original content that was published in InPaint Magazine in a Fall issue of 2014.*
In the day and age of social media, and the internet’s ability to expose and share a company for what they truly are, it is crucial that your company has a positive web, internet and SEO presence. Pushing to receive 5 star and A plus reviews is an important step in this process. Who wouldn’t want to put their best foot forward and show all who visit your site the perfect glistening photos of freshly painted homes, maybe a few testimonial videos and letters stating such things as, “amazing customer service,” “superior quality craftsmanship,” “integrity” and so forth? Once you sprinkle in the SEO magic and combine the age old steps of generating leads, building rapport, making a connection, and asking for business, you should be all set, right?
Wrong. The way we have been taught to market, sell and post all these wonderful reviews will generate business, but not nearly as much as what I am about to propose. I know this may sound crazy, it did to me when I first considered it, but bear with me.
Everyone reading this article has had a job blow up, a pissed off customer, and a complete disaster occur. I have heard painter’s stories of burning an apartment complex to the ground, getting punched in the face (repeatedly) by a painter they just fired, and even one of an entire painting crew being arrested in a drug raid. Not quite the details to include in your shiny marketing brochure…or is it?
I was sitting with a potential customer about to close one of the largest deals I have ever worked on. I was positive I was going to close this deal because of my shiny marketing brochure, until the gentleman threw it across his office and said, “This is crap (he really did, watch the video about it here) . I want to hear some real deal, crazy stuff. I want to hear about a time you screwed up badly and what you did about it.” I was hesitant and nervous to share this because I thought a mistake would look bad and set myself up for failure.
Then I let him have it. I shared about the time I painted the wrong color on a customer’s home and what we did to make it right “That’s nice”, he said, “but you have better.” I shared about painting the right color, but on the wrong house(I have the video here on this one too). “Oh! Now we have something,” he exclaimed. Then I shared the story about the time a sprayer blew up all over the exterior of a customer’s home, painting everything including the customer and her 9 month old baby (Score! Here’s that story). So what happened next?
I closed the deal. My customer wanted to know how I would stand up to a worst case scenario. He was spending a lot of money, and wanted to be sure that my “integrity” was true. Integrity shines when it is put to the test in crisis. In closing consider this:
- When you go to Amazon to buy a book and there are 100 reviews, 97 great and 3 bad, which ones do you click on first?
- If you are sitting in Starbucks, and the people to the left are having a normal conversation while the people to the right are having a conversation about a train wreck filled with drama, which one would you lean to listen to? You have to see this video about a conversation I recently over heard.
- Would you rather buy from a salesman who only showed you a shiny marketing brochure, or someone who was honest and transparent about making “wrong” right again? I was once told my shiny marketing brochure was crap, and it changed the way I sold and related to people in business forever. And yes, I do have a video about that too, that can be found here.
- A happy customer tells 3 people about you, an angry one tells 20. One that you upset and then made things right with tells 30.
Humans are drawn to stories of conflict, crisis and a final resolution. 5 star reviews and shiny marketing brochures don’t satisfy. They don’t build as much trust, interest, or commitment. Everyone has a painted baby story. Go share yours!
I would love to hear yours! Post a comment with your most outrageous painted baby story below.
I remember the first day I started my company. I was overwhelmed and overflowing with excitement. I was making the leap into 100% self sufficiency, business ownership and paving the way for my own future. Then I realized; I needed help. I did not know everything like I thought I did, heck, I did not even know some of the basics. Business was keeping me busy; as well as stressing me out. There was so much to do, so much to learn, and I was being buried alive in my new found freedom. I remember points during my new business journey where I was ready to scream! As I spoke to and spent time with other entrepreneurs, small business owners and executives, one thing became clear. I needed a business coach.
I hear entrepreneurs and small business owners tell me all the time, “I don’t need a coach, I got this”. They also say things like, “I am too busy for a coach” or “I don’t have the money to spend on a coach.” My answer is always the same when I say, “my point exactly.” A coach is the person who will make you better so you are not too busy to get better, and not so broke you can not afford a coach. These excuses are the exact results you produce by not getting a coach.
In business, there is competition. Whether you know it or not, there are others trying to win. Others are trying to beat you. Others want to not just beat you they want to crush you. These others are highly trained, highly skilled and some will be ruthless in their pursuit of business and entrepreneurial success. Know this as you step out onto the field and into business battle. If you show up unprepared, you will be slaughtered.
Here are a few tips as you search for, interview and then hire a business coach.
- Be clear on what constitutes success when hiring a coach. Before you start searching for and interviewing a coach, know what your outcomes are. If you are clear on a vision of where you want to be, and have clear objectives, you will have clear questions to ask when you interview a coach. This will make your interviews more effective and answer what you are looking for.
- Has your coach ever played? – Once you know what you are looking for make sure your coach can deliver. I am shocked and surprised at the number of people that are “business coaches”, “executive coaches”, and “entrepreneur coaches”, and they have never run or operated a business. Or, if they have, it has been far from successful. If you are looking to grow a multi-million dollar company and brand, look for a coach who has done the same. If you are looking to grow a business that runs without you, hire a coach who has done the same (check out an article I wrote about this in INC).
- Can they teach and train you what they know? – You know your outcomes and have found somebody who has produced these outcomes. None of that is important unless he or she can pass this knowledge to you. Make sure as you interview and speak to a coach that they can effectively pass the knowledge to you so you can retain and apply it. Look for testimonials and examples like this one. Make sure they have a proven track record of successfully passing this knowledge to you and your company.
- You should get 10 times the value– As a coach, I make sure I deliver 10 times the value of what my customer is paying. Working with a business coach is a huge investment, so make sure if you make a $1,000 investment that you get minimum $10,000 return. Do not worry so much about what you pay the coach, but that you are getting real value.
- You get what you pay for– A coach that can take your business to the next level can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands per hour. Again, make sure you get huge return. Remember that coaches know what they are worth and will charge accordingly. Do not short change yourself here. A coach that does not charge a lot of money will not offer as much value compared to one who charges more.
I hope this answers some of your questions about what to look for when hiring a business coach. Please feel free to comment and post here if you have any more questions, or need any feedback.
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Think about the most embarrassing moment of your life. I am talking about red face, not sure if you should laugh, cry, run, hide, and/or never show your face again embarrassed. Now, think about that moment occurring to you while in a foreign country where the culture, language, and environment is totally different. My embarrassing moment happened to me while I was a 20 year old college student studying in Spain. 13 years later, I share this story and still get embarrassed about it. I share it first off, because it is hilarious (if you do not laugh, you need to go to the Dr. and get your humor meter checked), and second, it shares an important lesson about life, love and leadership.
Sit back grab some popcorn and a refreshment and get ready to read. You may want to make sure you are not eating ice cream while you read this one.
It was a hot April day in Alcalá de Henares Spain. I was wrapping up the end of a close to five month journey and study abroad trip to this beautiful country. My weekends were spent traveling all over the amazing country of Spain to destinations like Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Valencia, Segovia, Salamanca, Toledo, Granada and Cordoba. While in Spain, I fell in love with the country, it’s people, their culture, history and all around lifestyle.
Oh yeah, and I am addicted to their coffee.
On this hot April day, I walked into a McDonalds to grab a fast, cheap and refreshing ice cream cone. If you do not know Spanish, let me give you a quick lesson. Spanish has a few letters that English does not. One of them being the “ñ”. When this letter is pronounced is makes the word sound different. Spain in Spanish is spelled España vs. Espana which would give it a different sound. The word for cone in Spanish is “cono”. If you wanted to order an ice cream cone you would order a “cono de helado”. Sounds easy right?
As I spent time in Spain, I was surprised about the way they use profanity, dirty words and strong expletives as a part of every day language. One of the words the Spainards use often is “coño”. This word can be used to strongly express something almost similar to the F-word in English. You can use it many ways in combinations with other words or by itself to express something strongly. The literal translation of the word means something different which I will share in a minute. Just remember, getting the language wrong even just a little changes things dramatically. In this case it would have changed what I was about to eat.
I enter the McDonald’s, approach the counter, and greet a very attractive Spanish woman about my age. She asks me what I wanted and I ordered up a “coño de helado”.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I was in trouble. My face turned red, I started to sweat, other patrons started looking at this big, tall, blonde haired foreigner who was already out of place in their country. The woman I ordered from as well got very red, very uncomfortable, and then gave me a smile. This was not a happy smile, it was a smile I had never seen before.
The literal translation for “coño” is vagina. I just asked her for an ice cream vagina. Small error in the language. Very different snack on a hot day.
She responded with “that is going to cost you more than 50 cents……………..” followed by “for here or to go”.
The restaurant burst in to laughter. She then handed me an ice cream cone and I ran out of there as fast as I could.
Why share this? Because in life, love, leadership and business, we are all wired to behave, act, and respond to situations differently. I call this the language of human behavior. We are all humans, we all may speak the same language (such as English, Spanish, etc.) yet doing so we all behave differently.
Getting the language wrong can have grave consequences. In this case, the young woman serving ice cream understood my language and made a correction. But what if she hadn’t? I could have been punched, slapped, or maybe went on a date! 😉 If you were wondering, there was no date and I only ate ice cream that day. **disclaimer: my wife Emily is 100% okay that I share this story
As you lead teams, work with others and drive towards a common goal, remember, we are all wired to behave a little different and value certain things when making decisions. None of it is right or wrong, it just is how it is. Knowing the language you speak and behave with as well as that of others around you can pull everyone together for the common goal and purpose. The better I have become at this, the more effective the teams I lead have become.
Here is a video where I explain more about this topic and the ice cream cone story.
Here is a phenomenal resource to find out the language you speak. Feel free to use these two assessments FREE here to take a DISC and Values Assessment to see how you and others you do life with behave.