Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

customer appreciation

Wage War Against Low Wages

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

I stopped for lunch at Wahoo’s for a fish taco yesterday,in Laguna Beach, Ca. I had a client work day across the street, so the idea of my lunch break looking out over the ocean while I enjoyed one of my favorite meals, sounded perfect. The weather was cooperating nicely. Sun, breeze, not too hot, clear skies out 25 miles to Catalina Island.

The employee behind the counter, was genuinely happy I’d come in to order. She liked me so much, she offered me a FREE chicken taquito to go with my fish taco. She smiled and asked if I’d like some FREE lip balm and a tube of FREE sunscreen, also. ?? Ok, sure! Seemed like I’d chosen a day to have lunch where they were giving out FREE stuff. I noticed the posted sign on the cash register that read today was a special FREE offer day.

The pleasantry that I was greeted with, continued with the waitress, who brought my lunch to me outside on the patio, the employee who collected finished plates from guests, offered water to others and made sure each customer was being served well. Not one customer went unnoticed or neglected.
The order counter, the kitchen and the staff making their rounds kept a fast pace and shared smiles with everyone. They acted like they really owned the place.

When I was finished basking in the sun and enjoying my delicious lunch, two employees made sure they said goodbye, thanked me for coming in and wished me a good day.

Fish tacos. $3.00 I can’t recall when I’ve had such care put into my experience about eating out. Not for $20, $35, or $75 (for two)! I put in a call and left a message for the store manager to express my appreciation and delight at how well these Wahoo’s employees were trained to treat the customers above and beyond.

And I wanted to know, are they getting paid above minimum wage? Are they receiving performance-based incentives to reward and to share in the success of this restaurant? Is part of the store profits being fairly distributed as bonuses for such commitment and excellent work?

Paying your employees well, is very good for business. Cost and Trader Joe’s are known for paying way above minimum wage to employees. I’m hoping Wahoo’s is following that good idea.

Employees want two things.
1. A fair and equitable place to work.
2. A decent living wage for great work performance (and bonuses!) and to share in profits they had a direct role in creating.
Let’s add a third thing. To be appreciated by your superior for your efforts.

If you are pay your staff better than they could earn at the competitor and tell them how much you appreciate their work, your bottom line will always be better.

Wahoo’s in Laguna Beach is rockin’ customer service.

I sure hope the boss is showing his appreciation every pay-day.

Old-Fashioned Customer Care

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

A SMILE and a friendly HELLO is the most common reason (59 percent) why consumers feel loyal towards small and independent retailers. Yet only 54 percent of small and medium size enterprises (SME) businesses stated their business employed this practice.

In this new study of over 2,000 consumers from Kingston University Small Business Centre, 36 percent of consumers said they were loyal to small retailers due to “brilliant customer service” and highly valued businesses remembering their usual order. (Bacon and egg quesadilla, no bacon, easy cheese, yes on the green sauce. My breakfast at Del Taco.)

Yet! Only around HALF of the SME respondents are taking advantage of their position to foster loyalty with shoppers.

“While the majority of decision makers recognize the importance of personal relations with customers, they are failing to develope their own customer loyalty strategies,” said Kingston University Professor Robert Blackburn. “SMEs should consciously build on their natural competitive advantage of being a smaller business as this can make a real difference to business survival and growth.”

Other tidbits of findings:

* Only 50 percent of SME respondents encourage referrals by their regular customers

*Sixty percent of consumers are willing to pay MORE! for a similiar product from a small independent retailer compared to a cheaper product from big box corporate retailers.

*Less than a third of respondents are retaining or growing their current customer base as their business’ main priority to achieve growth. (email addresses and contact information!)

I believe SMALL BUSINESS success is all about knowing your customers who walk in your front door and greeting them warmly. We all have our favorite digs that serve and satisfy our innate desire to connect, create community and supply our basic needs and wants.

Understanding SEO and FB and LinkedIn and weekly blogging and receiving positive postings on yelp are icing on the top of what should be your main ingredient……
good OLD-FASHIONED personalized, smiling, warm hearted, arms wide open (so to speak), efficient, effective, over-the-top excellence in delivering top quality goods and services.

Your wide world web is only as good as the smile and warm, heart-filled greeting behind it.

This note includes a big SMILE!
And a thank you for your referrals of friends and fellow business owners.

Stay cool this summer and find time to be renewed and restored by spending time in nature!

Remember your P's and Q's

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

Please and Thank you! For 32 years in store management and ownership of my own optical dispensary, I kept a small, wire-bound notebook at my front desk. In it, I wrote down the name and phone number of every patient who took home a pair of new glasses.( I never counted how many small notebooks I filled in all those years!) It included the type of frame and lenses purchased so when I phoned them a week later to be sure they were happy  and satisfied, I could discuss the details of their purchase.

Sometimes they had a problem with the new prescription, or they were still getting used to the fit, and I would suggest they return for an adjustment or solve an issue over the phone. But 9 out of 10 clients were pleased with their purchase and doubly pleased with the follow up call.

Two things happened.

1.Problems, (if any) were nipped in the bud before they got too big or client became annoyed.

2.The clients second impression with their optical store was as good as their first impression. Somebody was listening to them. And appreciated their business. They felt special.

Every client who referred a friend or family member, received a hand written thank you note with two tickets to the movies or a gift card from Starbucks. Or they were  compensated with a discount on their next pair of glasses. It’s fair to say that thanking my best clients for their loyalty kept me in business during a few lean years. They appreciated being recognized for their support in keeping my business going.

Today we have newsletters and social media, FB, LinkndIn, Pinterest, blogs,  miraid ways of reaching out and keeping in touch with new and potential clients. I watch all things automated in offices today, appointments made on line, customer satisfaction surveys sent to their emails. Quick, quicker, fast, faster, no need to talk to anyone, or ask questions, it’s just you and the keyboard. If you don’t fill out the survey, the eye doctor’s office or retailer you purchased your new running shoes from, won’t know if you are happy with your purchase or not. They will be too busy being automated and SEO experts to want to take time to phone your home. I understand. It’s a bigger world today than when I started back in 1981.

But just in case you want to stand out in a”www” world and you think calling a few clients on the phone and asking about their recent purchase might be an idea whose time has come “back”, don’t be discouraged if they don’t answer the phone. Not many people do anymore. They only want to text.

But go ahead and leave a thank you message anyway. Tell them you appreciate their business and referrals and leave your number. It’s your best positive second impression.

“You glance at an email. You give more attention to a real letter.” Judith Martin “Miss Manners”

Want to see more sales? Create better client relations?

Get your clients attention. Way too many emails out there. Way too few thank you notes!!