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December 2006

Involve Your Customers

You want positive sales signs or signals in your customer area. You want the customer to feel he’s going to get fair treatment every time he comes in. As a manager, you should be asking yourself how to serve your customer better the next time he stops. That’s giving him recognition. You are giving your customer a place in shaping your service to him.

Put a customer satisfaction index in the form of a postcard with every invoice. Design a method by which you can objectively score the results. That’s how you measure improvements-and don’t forget to distribute the results to all your employees.

You see these postcards in some restaurants. Most customers will not take time to fill out these satisfaction indexes and send them back. In fact, the ones you do get back will probably be the ones that complain. It’s not only the answers you get back from these customers that matter, but also your image of caring left with the 95% who didn’t respond to your index query. You’ve given them a sense of goodwill. You’ve said to them that you value their opinion. Most of those who don’t respond will appreciate that. They’ll reason that, if they had had a complaint, you were willing to listen. Further, you should answer every card that’s returned. That’s important.

If you do this, chances are good you’ll be seen as a “pioneer” in your own industry because few small businesses, other than restaurants, conduct this kind of survey.

Perception is reality. Make your customers aware that you are interested when they have a problem. Show them they have a venue for voicing that concern. That’s recognizing customers.

Business culture is something you develop. It relates directly to how others perceive you. It takes very little or no money at all to build a relationship with your customers as well as your employees. You do that by opening the door to them, seeing who they really are, listening to their real needs and following up.

Your main objective is to create an atmosphere of internal guarantees. How can you guarantee your customers that you will deliver to them tomorrow if your production staff does not guarantee the sales staff they will do whatever it takes to pull the order together on time? That’s an internal guarantee.

Your objective is to give all your employees a sense of pride in their work. You are essentially asking them to “take ownership” in their responsibilities and in their department’s performance.

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Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.





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