Advice to write a plan to start your business

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March 2015

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Tattoo Or Not Tattoo: Are You Authentic And Professional?

Written by , Posted in Business, CSR, Leadership, Sustainability

Does this man appear professional?

Tattoo Or Not Tattoo: Are You Authentic And Professional?

 

In my previous segments, I’ve spoken about what your social media, dress code, and body language is telling customers, that you may not be aware of. What about the other elements of your business? Are the things that your telling people from your decisions, and the actions of your employees professional?

1. Webpage

In today’s day of enlightenment, most consumer’s already know what they want before they go to the store. Because of that much of your interaction with them isn’t going to be face to face. You have to have a great handshake was done poorly. No, I’m not talking about how firm you shake, I am talking about the webpage you’re using to coax you customers to visit your store. And it’s a tossup whether it’s worse to have no website versus having a poorly drafted one. Unprofessional. It’s too bad I can’t show you my first attempt at a website for my family’s farm, but trust me when I say, “Thank you Clickhelp.”

2. Email

Perhaps you do have a smashing good site and you get loads of traffic, and when someone emails you, you respond with your @gmail or @me account. For the record, that’s like wearing a professional three piece business suit to work and having rubber boots on your feet. You’re dressed, just not for success. Subtle, but boy, do your customer’s notice that it isn’t professional.

Your email signature can affect the conversation just as much. A client won’t email back if the last thing you leave them with isn’t connected to your business, or for that matter, doesn’t have your phone number to call. Consistency of your message is key to get people to come back.

3. Your Employees

You have ten employees, of which eight of them should never leave the back of the shop. What do you suppose your customers are going to think when they’re lined up five deep and your technicians or your office staff are standing beside your sales staff on the front counter? Professional? Do you think your customers realize you’re not all capable of ringing them through? No, they’re going to look at every polite smile or nervous eye-aversion and will say, “WHY AREN’T YOU SERVING ME?” And that’s only if they don’t literally walk away. You’re people may not be able to run the checkout program, but your clients don’t know that. All they see are people unwilling to help them.

4. Your Personal Interactions

Do you know the saying, how a man treats his mother will be how he treats his wife? There is merit to that and your clients will see your personal interactions. Remember that the next time your little brother calls you at work. Screaming at him for his night time escapades isn’t professional and doesn’t endear you to your clients, nor does calling someone names, slamming the phone down, or storming off in a huff. Unfortunately, your clients only see your actions and don’t know the whole story. By the time you’ve cooled off enough to explain, the impression has already been made. It goes without saying that this applies to your employees.

5. Not Quite A Poster Child

Do you have that one guy in your office who’s not too bad at his job, but put him in front of a client and the wheels fall off the bus? You know him. You vow every time never to let him speak to customers and then when it’s lunch time and the sales staff are gone, he’s the only one left to speak on the company’s behalf. Just remember, he IS speaking on the company’s behalf. If he can’t be trusted to speak to customers, then he really shouldn’t be.

6. Public Space Cleanliness

Is your bathroom a public space to be offered to customers? Well, just remind your greasy technicians not to touch the wall with their grimy hands. And while they’re at it, they may as well stay away from the stock shelves and come to think of it, don’t leave streaks on the stock itself. That’s a pretty big turn off. Want to make a mess? Keep it behind closed doors. Well, truth be told, there is a valid argument to be had to say keep the dirt away entirely, but for absolute sure, keep it away from the customers. Oh, by the way, that box that’s been sitting by the front door for three days. Ya, you know the one. It isn’t professional and really needs to go.

7. Authorized Access Only

It’s a hard habit for some customers to drop, but they actually contribute to some of the woes you’re having with communicating a professional message. You know the customers. Perhaps they’re former employees. Perhaps they’re from an older generation. Maybe they just think it was always done that way. Nonetheless, that sign above the door that says, AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY really does mean that. When you have people running in and out of the back shop or the stock room, your other customers will see it and ask themselves how professional you are. Then they’re going to ask why one client would be able to see their computer being fixed when they can’t. Unified message. That means everyone is treated the same every time.

8. Green space

Some companies are trying to green up their image. For those companies, it’s probably a wise decision not to do what the local Walmart chose when they were having issues with their landscaping contract. Pulling out all the shrubs and paving the lot might not be the right message you want to tell people if you are trying to be environmentally responsible.

9. Tattoos

If your target audience is a younger demographic it likely doesn’t matter to them, but much like a dress code, tattoos and facial hair may not be professional to some of your clients. Some people may not take an advisor seriously if their face is covered in tattoos. An arbitrary barrier, ink and facial hair can be enough to turn some people off, especially those of an older generation. Don’t get me wrong. I have a tattoo myself. It just isn’t visible through my work attire.

What are you saying without knowing it? The message you want to send to people may not be consistent and professional. If it isn’t, you’ll want to do an audit of your building and staff to make sure what your clients hear is what you want them to. A business plan is the best way to enshrine the message you want so you and your employees have a reference to look at every time so eventually everything you do will be in line with your master vision.

Need help? Check back soon for a checklist on what you should be asking yourself to make every aspect of your marketing plan consistent and professional.