Ease of Doing Business
Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes
There are several places to shop for groceries in my town. They are all within the same approximate driving distance, and they all have the same general groceries. However, one of the stores does something unique that the other stores in town do not do: the baggers push the cart out to your car, load the bags into your car, then return the carriage, while accepting nothing in return besides a “Thank you.” Since my wife and I shop with two small children, you can probably guess who gets our business. Even though this store is a bit more expensive than the others in town, we feel it is well worth it. The management of this local grocery store understands and applies one of the key principles of business success: make it easy for the customer to do business with you.
Make it easy for prospects to find you. Needless to say, if the prospects do not know your business exists, they will not become a customer.
- Advertise. Reserve at least a small portion of funds to list your business in places where those looking for your product or service will be able to find it.
- Use good signage. If your physical location is hidden or tricky to find, make sure you have adequate signage that directs prospects to your place of business.
Make it easy for prospects to contact you. Most prospects will call a local number over a long distance number, hang up on voice mail or a busy signal, or visit another website if yours is down.
- Get a toll-free number. If doing business outside your local area, a toll-free number will greatly increase the number of sales calls.
- Get call waiting or multiple phone lines. I, like most people, will hang up on a busy signal and call the next business on my list rather than trying to get through.
- Get a live answering service versus voicemail. Prospects will not hang up on real people, but they will hang up on voicemail.
- Own a website and use your web address in all of your ads. A web address is a link to unlimited information and is the most valuable piece of information you can put in an ad. Thanks to the Internet, the need for large ads has decreased since just about everyone could get all the information they need to know from your website.
- Show a contact link clearly on your home page. A website without clear contact information screams “scam.” Do not make the costly mistake of hiding your contact information.
- Allow prospects to contact you via phone, e-mail, snail mail, or chat. The more options you give your prospects, the more likely they are to become customers.
- Use a reliable web host provider. Beware of “free” hosting for your business. Most top quality and reliable hosts providers charge as little as $19 per month, which is well worth your business’ reputation.
Make it easy for prospects to buy from you. People generally like shopping and having, but not buying. The more painless you can make this process, the more prospects you will be able to convert into customers.
- Minimize the number of forms and paperwork the customer must fill out. If this cannot easily be done, fill out the forms for the customer or at least assist them in the process. On our YearToSuccess.com member form, we increased member registration by over 60% simply by requiring only vital information at sign up, then asking, not requiring, the member to complete the information at his or her convenience.
- Use salespeople. An effective salesperson is worth his or her weight in gold providing they work with the prospect throughout the complete buying cycle, not just until the prospect has agreed to buy. Most customers are busy and do not want to be bothered with details that may be important to your business, but are not important to them. A salesperson can act as an assistant to the customer, doing the “hard stuff” for them.
- If possible, sell your products or services on-line. E-commerce is growing at an unbelievable rate. Do not let technology scare you from this. Selling goods on the Internet can be very profitable and cost relatively little to set up.
- Accept credit cards. In just about every study done, the acceptance of credit cards has increased businesses’ sales substantially. As the business climate changes, customers are carrying less and less cash. Even McDonald’s accepts credit cards!
- Become a one stop shop. If you have a product that is dependent on another product, or more marketable alongside other complimentary products, then sell those other products or arrange to have your product marketed by those who market the complimentary products. For example, if you sell a toy that requires batteries, sell the batteries as well.
Listen to your customers. Customer feedback is the best way to determine how “customer friendly” your business is. Remember that it does not matter how easy YOU think it is to do business with you, it is what the prospect or customer thinks.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)