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Always Wear a Smile

"More than half of us say we won't go back to a place where the service is bad, no matter how good the food is. Meanwhile, thirty percent of us say that we would return to a place where the service was good, even if the food was not."

San Francisco Magazine Opentable Pool — August, 2002

What can a simple smile do to increase your bottom line?

People eat all the time at places where they don't even like the food — if the service is fast, friendly, and no one snarls when they ask for something special. Being treated well makes people happy. Feed them a smile and they'll be back for more.

That's how a simple smile can help your bottom line!

The Golden Rule of Good Service

The secret to getting your employees to smile is to treat them just as you would treat your customers; with courtesy and respect. Show them you care. Above all, SMILE at them. They will pass it on to your customers.

To illustrate the power of a smile, have your sales people serve one another and then describe how they felt during the transaction. Did the other person smile? How did that make them feel? To remind people to smile, put a mirror in a work area they must pass daily. Write on it, "DO YOU SEE A SMILING PERSON LOOKING BACK?"

Play "Mystery Shopper for a Day"

One great way to train your employees is to have them perform a mystery shopping survey on a competitor's business. Work with them to create a survey (a learning experience in itself), and have them fill it out afterwards. Make sure that all of the questions you would want to know for your own business are included. This is a wonderful learning opportunity for your employees. Because they aren't judging colleagues and friends, they're apt to be more objective — and it is bound to get them thinking about their own performance.

And, be sure to compliment any employee you see effectively using suggestive selling techniques. Pass out smile cards to anyone that you see who isn't smiling. These actions make sure that your employees know you're paying attention.

Teach Employees Economic Basics

How much money do you really lose from poor customer service? If the level of customer service your business provides is not what your customers expect, it's certain you're losing some. But employees may not realize how important individual customers are to the bottom line. Show them.

Demonstrate how small sales increases daily add up over time—including their own tips and commissions! Show them your cost of goods and expenses for such things as rent and supplies. Ask what they would do to cut expenses if they were you. Your employees will start to see the business in a different light—and appreciate how they can make a difference.

Finally, ask them to consider what they expect as a customer. Wouldn't they rather receive service with a smile than service with a sigh? Would they tell the manager if they received poor service—or just walk out the door, never to return? That will open eyes for some of them!

Get Professional Advice and Follow It

Just because you never hear complaints, don't think customers don't have them. Three out of four consumers who have a bad experience DON'T complain. They just don't come back! Forty-five percent of diners say that they have had bad service but never voiced their concerns. That's why nearly everybody in service-dependent businesses needs to get an objective outside opinion. A professional mystery shopping firm can help determine where you need to improve and which areas are your strengths. They also can be your eyes and ears when you aren't around.

Have them focus on areas that most concern you with specific questions that delve into your employees' attitudes and demeanors. Was the customer greeted with a smile and good eye contact? Did the employee seem warm and sincere throughout the transaction, and thank the customer? Have them assess things you want your employees to do, like suggestive selling. Use the responses to help motivate employees.

Most first-time survey users score about 70%—well below the 90% benchmark everyone shoots for, and 25% lower than star performers. Yet some owners resist making changes that are obviously needed.

A company that asked for an assessment of employee's suggestive selling skills found that they scored way below the industry average. The owner's response? "We do not like to be pushy."

Pushy? Unless employees are showing and helping customers know what is available, how will the customer know you have exactly what they want?

Remind your employees that people come in the door having already made up their minds to buy. Giving them what they want isn't pushy—it's just meeting their needs.

But smile when you say it!


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