Subtle Difference-Makers for Your Small Business' Reputation

Professional Look

I’m a small business owner. In my business, we deal a lot with other businesses — we offer outsourced solutions for things like payroll and tax services. I’m incredibly proud of the business I’ve built and the people I’ve built it with, and I think we do amazing work. I also think we are extremely professional. But I’m a little worried that we don’t always come across that way — professional, I mean. I don’t think we look sloppy, exactly, but I’m always thinking about the impressions we make with prospective clients and customers. Our longtime customers know that we do great work, but how can we show potential new customers that when we meet with them?

Congratulations on the growth of your business! It sounds like you’re enjoying some well-earned success. Of course, you’re right to acknowledge that you can always improve your business — and starting with the impression you make on potential customers seems like a great place to start, given your concerns.

We’d all like to think of ourselves as rational people, especially when it comes to business. But the fact is that humans are capable of making decisions based on things that aren’t really relevant. Despite the excellent work that your business does, you could easily lose customers (or fail to gain new ones) because of things that are largely irrelevant to your core business — things like the way you dress, behave, or present materials.

That’s not to say that all of these things are useless, of course. Being professional is an acknowledgement of the importance of your customers, and treating others with respect and professionalism is a part of good customer service. This is especially true of meetings with potential future clients who don’t already know you. First impressions matter.

However relevant or irrelevant this stuff might be to your core business services, the bottom line is this: It all matters. From the way your employees dress and speak to the way your materials are presented to potential clients, details matter. So let’s talk about how to master and tweak those details in a way that will make a disproportionate improvement in your business.

Start by focusing on the ways in which your representatives (and you) interact with potential clients and existing customers. Remind your employees that they represent the company when they meet with clients, and that they should be well-groomed and well-dressed.

To be safe, you may want to institute a dress code for your employees, if you don’t have one already. Particularly when meeting with clients, your representatives should look their best.

It’s not just the employees who should look their best, of course. Your business probably involves plenty of paperwork, and some of that paperwork ends up in the hands of your clients. And when you try to win new clients, you may put together reports or sales pitches. You should think about how those materials are presented.

Getting custom folders and binders made for presentations and paperwork is a relatively minor expense that can pay off big time. Your work will be more identifiable to clients when it is labeled with your business name. Branded folders and other items will help boost your brand recognition, too.

It’s not just physical paperwork that could use your branding. Do your employees sign emails with a consistent email signature that includes your company’s logo, address, and contact information? Does your business have a high-quality website, a dedicated phone number, and its own domain name for emails? These details reassure customers that they’re dealing with a “real” business, not just an individual.

It sounds as if your business does great work. Your customers know that, but they’ll understand it better if you cater to human nature and tweak small details of your business’ presentation to make your whole operation look more professional. By building your brand, polishing your materials, and improving your employees’ self-presentation, you’ll inspire more customer confidence and win more new clients.

Content Provided by Scholarship Media

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