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Following the rules, or pleasing the customer?

By September 7, 2019 No Comments

It’s important for every business to have a set of rules or guidelines, so everyone is singing from the same songbook. It’s important to teach those rules to your employees and for you to set a good example by practicing what you preach. That said, you make the rules and you can change them. Every rule and every policy can be amended from time to time, to reflect the current state of your business and the environment in which you operate.  

We’ve always done it this way!

I’m sure that most, if not all of you, at one time or another, has been told to do something “because we’ve always done it this way.” How did you feel when you were on the receiving end of that? Did you feel like you’ve been heard? Did you feel like whoever was telling you that was really concerned with helping you get an answer? Probably not. I’ve always been someone who wants to know why we do what we do, the way we do it. I like to know how things work. My mother used to say that when I was a little kid, I’d take apart my toys to see how they worked. Of course, I didn’t always get them back together, but that wasn’t really the point.  

Those are the rules!  

There are good reasons for many of the rules that guide our business practices. Washing your hands and using gloves before preparing our food are rules that shouldn’t be ignored. Taking a deposit to reserve your services for their wedding day is a rule that shouldn’t be ignored. How much deposit you take and the payment terms for the balance should have guidelines, which will be followed the same way, most of the time.  

Reduce the friction  

If you’ve read some of my other articles, books or heard me present at an event, then you’ve likely heard me say that we should reduce the friction in our interactions with our co-workers and customers. Our mission should be to help our customers, and co-workers get the results they want, with the least amount of hassle. We can deliver exemplary results, but if it was difficult for the customer to do business with us, they’ll remember the experience as less than it was.  

Don’t punish the masses, for the ills of a few  

Too often in my consulting, I come across a set of restrictions that seems too harsh. When I ask why that particular rule or rules are in place, it’s usually to prevent a situation that has happened before, with a negative result. I get that. But, when I ask how often that situation occurs, it’s usually a rare situation. Once those types of rules make their way into your business, they tend to multiply into other onerous rules until, one day, your ‘rules and regulations’ looks like a compilation of worst-case scenarios. All of your good customers (which is most of them) are punished because of a few bad actors.  

I was having a conversation with a friend recently about a missed-appointment fee for their medical practice. When someone misses an appointment without giving 24-hour’s notice, there’s a fee imposed. A patient missed their appointment and asked if the fee could be waived as it was their first missed appointment. Sounds like a reasonable request to me, and one that many of you could see yourselves making in that situation. The medical practice assisted in rescheduling their appointment (sooner than they would have otherwise gotten in) but it held strict to its rules and imposed the fee. I asked why there was no consideration for it being their first offense and was told that, from their data, people who miss appointments tend to miss future appointments. That may be the case, but I suggested that we shouldn’t punish the masses, for the ills of a few. You don’t know if this patient will miss again, and if they do, then impose the fee.  

But it’s in the contract!  

Another thing I see, a lot, is wedding pros complaining that customers aren’t following the terms of the contract. I have a few thoughts about that. First, when is the last time you read every word of a contract? Sure, some of those contracts are more important than others. How many times do you ‘accept the terms and conditions’ without reading them all? I also once heard that we remember about 60% of what we hear and 40% of what we read. So, realistically, how can we expect our customers to remember and follow every term and condition, especially weeks, months or a year or more after they’ve signed them?  

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!  

What if instead of making our rules sound punitive, we made them helpful? What if during the planning you reiterated the most important, or most overlooked, rules and regulations, but you framed them in a way to make it feel like you’re helping them have the outcome they desire? Send them a professionally designed “Helpful tips to make your wedding day go smoothly” or “10 things you need to know for your wedding day.” In most cases, we can say the same thing in a positive, helpful way, instead of a negative, punishing tone. And, if you can’t explain why a particular rule is in place, how can you defend it? Even our Constitution has amendments. It’s not easy to make a Constitutional amendment, but when there’s a good reason to change, update or eliminate a policy, it’s been done… 33 times, so far.  

What would you want if you were the customer?  

 All of us are in business to provide our customers with the results they want. Very few, if any of us have a monopoly, so our customers have choices. They need ‘what’ you do by the time they reach out to you, but do they need ‘you’ to do it? There’s always someone cheaper (possibly you, when you were new to the industry), so we need to not only provide the best results, we need to make it easy to do business with us. Reduce the friction. Make sure your customers understand the non-negotiable items (such as noise restrictions and curfews) but don’t be the rules police. Eliminate outdated policies and be flexible, when you can. When they post their reviews, you want them talking about how easy it was to do business with you, not how restrictive you were. Ask yourself what you would want if you were the customer, and then do that!  

© 2019 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions LLC

 

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Need help seeing how your rules and policies come across or framing them in a better light? Through consulting and sales training, I’ve helped businesses like yours reduce the friction in the sales process, and beyond. Here’s what a few have said after working with me, either on-site or virtually:  

“I thought it was great that Alan gave real-world examples in order to help us understand a point.” – Christie McFarland, Bar-B-Cutie, Brentwood, TN  

“The timing couldn’t be better as we can’t grow sales without adjusting our selling techniques to meet the changes in the market.” – Steve Sanchez, The JDK Group, Camp Hill, PA  

We left recharged and with some great tips on how to be more efficient and drive better results. It was well worth the time and expense.” – Melody O’Shea, Beets Hospitality, Livermore, CA  

Want to find out about having me in for a day of sales training, arranging a Mastermind Day with some of your industry friends, or having a 2-hour phone/web consultation? Contact me via emailtext, use the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362, international enquiries +1 732 422 6362.  

 


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