All the best "Seeds of Growth"

All the best "Seeds of Growth", principles that grow business, gathered from our own articles and from around the web. Just add water, plant properly, and grow your business.

Complaints Happen

Complaints Happen

If you are in the service business--for that matter if you are in any business--no matter how hard you try to be perfect, sooner or later a customer is not going to be pleased with the service they receive. The inevitability of it shouldn't discourage you from trying to be perfect, but when a mistake happens the recovery should become job #1.

That dissatisfied customers tell their friends is a fact. How many they tell on average varies depending on the study referenced but it is somewhere between 4 and 10. One study notes that those they tell are 5 times less likely to come to your business than the original dissatisfied customer. Ouch.

But there is hope. According to Restaurant Hospitality "Rule-of-thumb numbers show that roughly 60 percent of complaining customers will eat at your restaurant again if you resolve their service issue, and almost all customers (96 percent in some studies) will come back if you solve their problem to their satisfaction and do so quickly."

What is the best way to resolve issues? Hospitality cites a study called “An Examination of Guest Complaints and Complaint Communication Channels: The Medium Does Matter!” out of Cornell University School of Hotel Management. It concludes that nearly fifty percent of unhappy guests want to talk to the boss. Free drinks and comp meals are nice, but what they really want is to let the boss know.

So how easy do you make it for your customers to let you know about the service? You can't always be in your business. Do you make it easy for them to contact you? You might be surprised what you learn and you will certainly have the opportunity to "save" good customers.

Plug from our sponsor: The Promoterz system is one easy way to make sure customers always have a direct link to you and you have a direct and convenient way to respond to them. The system invites every customer to provide feedback online and immediately notifies you and your managers of feedback as it is received.

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

When "I don't know" is a Good Answer.

Had a chance to go to lunch with Tom Miller yesterday. Tom has been in the franchising industry for years and is an Executive Vice President with Murphy Business. In his own estimation, he is a "legend in his own mind." Actually, he has an extraordinary sales record and is considered The Authority on franchising throughout the business brokerage community.

As we talked about the selling process, specifically to small business owners, he noted that in the "early days" he sold direct mail. He learned quickly, that nobody wanted to hear about his business, but they loved to talk about their own. So when he'd meet with a likely prospect and they asked what he was selling, he would respond, "I don't know yet. Tell me about your business." As he learned about the business, it became obvious if there was need--and what he was selling.

So how much do you know about your customers' or your potential customers' businesses? Is learning about them part of your sales process or are you more focused on making sure they learn about you? Are you learning enough? According to Tom here is a key indicator: "If you need a closing technique you haven't learned enough."

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. Learn more

2,998...2,999...3,000! Sleep at last!

2,998...2,999...3,000!  Sleep at last!

Business Week's question of the week this week asks with ads everywhere "is advertising today creative--or creepy? How far should Mad Ave go?" I found the 3 responses they included interesting:

Joe Gardner, features and business affairs editor at The Onion, notes that if people "don't read all blogs with a discerning eye, they deserve any deception that's heaped upon them."

Kalle Lasn, co-founder of Ad Busters magazine, responds that "3,000 marketing messages a day seep into the average North American brain. That level of advertising is stressing us out."

And Ted Murphy, CEO of says that younger generation knows that to get free content they have to put up with product placement. In his estimation "it's a trade off they're willing to make."

As business owners, the real question for all of us is in this kind of environment is how do we effectively let those that would be interested in our product or service know we exist? There are probably many answers to that question, but near the top of the list has to be our customers. Those who have used our product or service should become our greatest and most powerful advocates in spreading the word.

Disclaimer: in an effort to help you avoid any deception being heaped upon you, this blog is sponsored by Promoterz, a great tool to help business owners turn their customers into advocates.

Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more

The Pumpkin That Sold Me a House

The Pumpkin That Sold Me a House

This morning I found this pumpkin on my doorstep--again. The Coen's are the realtors that helped us buy our home nearly three years ago. Every year at this time we get a pumpkin and an invitation to their Christmas party. They did the same for my brother. In fact, when I was preparing to move to Mesa and asked Joe if he knew any realtors, he said "Oh yeah, we just got our pumpkin from the Coen's. Here is their number."

Just a gimmick? For some it could be, but we've been to the Coen's party. We didn't feel like customers. We were friends. My point is the pumpkin is a nice way to get attention (and there are countless other ways to get attention) but if you don't back it up with a genuine relationship it will be nothing but a gimmick.

Looking for a house in the Phoenix area? Contact the Coen's.

(Looking for a remarkable real estate web solution?)

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? Learn more

More Buzz for Promoterz

More Buzz for Promoterz

Couldn't resist pointing you to some more great things being written about Promoterz (c'mon, it's our baby! what do you expect?)

Robert Kingston over at Small Business Branding, posted a terrific "how to" on getting your message right and getting it out. He includes this about Promoterz:

If you take a look around now, a lot of businesses are realizing how beneficial WoM is for promoting their message. One such business I admire is called Promoterz who advocate the importance of being remarkable and worthy of your customer’s attention.

Zane Safrit is CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited and maintains a blog worth reading. He checked out Promoterz and had this to say:

Interesting service. I liked it. I REALLY liked their video. For a small company, getting started, running fast and being completely dedicated to their customers' immediate needs...this is the tool, I think. It incorporates the power of Fred Reichheld's Net Promoter Score and The Ultimate Question with a standardized, but flexible, program to stay in touch with your customers, follow-up, generate reports, extend special offers, etc.

Need we say more? Watch our REALLY cool video.

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.