SMILE Your Way to Success

Lisa Ryan

Sep 4, 2014

SMILE Your Way to Success

 Consider the look on your face when you walk through your business every day. Do you greet your staff with a cheery “Good morning!” or does your expression cause your employees to steer clear? A simple act of kindness goes a long way in building an engaging environment that keeps your tenured team, attracts new employees, retains loyal clients and maintains a productive and profitable work environment. 

Studies show that only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs. It’s also been revealed that at any given time, 87% of workers are actively looking for new employment. By enacting a few simple strategies, you can make sure that your top talent doesn’t become someone else’s. The best part? When your staff is happy, they take better care of your customers. When your clients have a positive experience, they are more likely purchase more products and services from you and refer their friends to do the same. On the other hand, if your team is unhappy, frustrated or bitter, your customers sense it and they won’t come back. 

Staffing expenses make up a huge percentage of your budget, but skimping on people or training sets you up to lose business. Think about it, when your clients encounter a new salesperson, clerk or receptionist every time they place an order, they may wonder about the quality of your service. By investing in the engagement level of your team members, you ensure the long-term success of your business. 

Here is a five-step process you can use to increase employee loyalty, productivity and profitability. 

S = Start Right Now

Oftentimes we hear a good idea and then wait until a more convenient time to start. There is no time like the present, and the more you delay, the less likely you are to take action. Today, commit to one activity you can do to create stronger relationships with your staff. As Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich said, “Do not wait: the time will never be 'just right'. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” 

If it has been awhile since you’ve greeted your employees with a smile, or acknowledged their contribution to your organization, use the “Apology Approach.” Tell your team, “I know that I have not been the easiest person to be around lately, and starting today, I am going to change that. You are incredibly valuable to this business and I am going to make more of an effort so you feel appreciated and recognized here.” 

M = Make a List of your Top Clients

These may be the customers that you enjoy the most or the ones that are most profitable (and easy to work with). Don’t feel obligated to include profitable patrons that you do not like to be around. When you’re done with your initial list, go through your database of customers with whom you’ve lost contact, and add the names of those prospects you would like to get back. Ask your staff to suggest their favorite and not-so-favorite clients and add (or subtract) them to the list. 

Analyze the list and see if a pattern emerges. By doing so, you’ll identify the characteristics that best determine the makeup of your favorite clients. Guess what? You’ve just found your target market. Focus your advertising and marketing efforts in the areas where you come across these folks and you’ll attract the perfect clientele for you and your team. 

I = Identify Creative Ways to Stay in Touch

Utilizing the above targeted client/prospect list, devise a variety of communication methods - letters, notes, social media, emails, phone calls, and/or faxes - to let them know you are thinking about them. Mix it up. Make it a goal to make your customers laugh (or at least smile) and they will reward you with their loyalty and referrals. Some examples: when in medical sales, I gave my customers surgical gloves filled with candy. When promoting the release of my movie, I delivered microwave popcorn in red and white popcorn bag envelopes to announce the red carpet premiere. Remember - the more unique and distinctive your connection, the bigger the payoff. 

L = Look for Additional Ways You Can be of Service

If you see an article in a newspaper or trade magazine that mentions one of your employees, clip it out, laminate it, and send it to them. Collect your clients’ email addresses and start a newsletter or send out a short “Tip of the Week.” Email the links of interesting articles you find online, even if they have nothing to do with your business. Keep your eye out for referrals or strategic partners that you can introduce them to help them grow their businesses well. 

When it comes to steps three and four, you may be thinking, “I don’t have the time or the resources to do any of this stuff. No one else in my industry is doing this, so why should I?” You do not have to devote a lot of time to accomplish this. Set aside an hour or two of concentrated effort on a regular basis and get it done. When you look at what your competition is doing, and you choose to do the opposite, you’ll differentiate yourself in a way that is memorable and effective to the people who matter most - your customers. 

E = Express Appreciation

Let your clientele know that you enjoy working with them and that you are grateful for their business. Be sure to thank your staff on a regular basis as well - giving them a paycheck is not enough to keep them engaged. Don’t assume they know how you feel. Tell them, or better yet, send them a note. E-mails are fine, but don’t make that your only mode of communication. Hand written notes or cards sent through the mail are unexpected and make a positive impact. Mail a small gift or card to clients on the anniversary of their first order. Chances are good that they will tell all of their friends about the extraordinary efforts they receive from you. 

Marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, discovered that the number one reason a customer stops doing business with a company is because the customer feels ignored, unappreciated, or taken for granted. When you let your clients and employees know that they matter, you will matter to them. 

In business as in life, a SMILE goes a long way. 

About the Author

As Founder of Grategy, Lisa Ryan works helps organizations keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She is the author of six books, and co-stars in two films, the award winning: “The Keeper of the Keys,” and “The Gratitude Experiment.” To learn more, visit www.grategy.com.