Steve Marr Blog

Steve Marr's contributions
Category >> Getting and Keeping Customers
Feb 25

Maintain Quality

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Quality is subjective to some degree. Quality partly depends on our expectations and the price we pay for them. If I walk into a McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin, my expectations are considerably lower than if I go to a resort serving a wonderful breakfast for $25. Either option may fall short on quality. The McDonald’s breakfast may sit in the warming tray for 45 minutes or the resort breakfast could be disappointing, but our expectations are different in each situation.

Feb 18

Free Estimates?

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Many businesses struggle with the idea of offering free estimates. However, since businesses have different business models; the wisdom of offering free estimates versus paid estimates will differ.

I checked prices with local carpet cleaners.  One had a flat price of $129 for any three rooms. Another posted a price list of any three rooms for $119 but specified that each room must be under 250 square feet.  The same site posted pricing for halls, steps, walk-in closets, moving furniture, etc.  Both sites were designed to avoid sending someone out for an estimate. The flat price company might lose money, but an occasional loss is less than the $40 cost the business assumes with each free estimate. Plus, the estimator makes no money for the company while making the estimate. 

Large commercial properties need to be treated differently. Most carpet cleaners I know don’t make use of estimates.  They simply quote a flat price.  Their experience gives them confidence that the flat rate price will be correct. Then, when a customer calls; the carpet cleaner has an opportunity to close a sale.  If time slips by after the phone call, the deal may expire.  It is much better to set an appointment and send the cleaning crew than set an appointment and hope that an estimate brings a sale.

Feb 11

Director of First Impressions

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I walked into the office of a business and the receptionist had a sign on her desk, “Director of First Impressions.”  I’ve seen the term before but seeing it in on a receptionist’s desk made me think about its appropriateness.  It was the receptionist who greeted people in person and represented the business when someone called in.  It struck home the point that receptionist “Mary” understood that her business expected her to leave a lasting impression on each person who contacted the business.

Every time a prospective customer contacts us by phone, email or by walking through a door; they receive a first impression of our organization. We have the responsibility to ensure that the impression is positive and helpful. I have had some business encounters where my first impression was so negative, I never proceeded forward except to end a phone call or step out of the business.

When my phone rings, I may be focused on something or having a difficult day. However, I understand that the person calling will receive a first impression of me and the business. My responsibility is to ensure their first impression is positive, regardless of the circumstances I face.  

Jan 10

When A Customer Says No

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Kenny Rogers sang the old country song, “The Gambler” with the refrain: 

“You've got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.”

In business we need to understand when to stop selling to a prospect. One friend of mine had a slogan that went something like: “When the customer says no, it means they don’t understand.” However, the customer may never understand; and the time you spend trying to convince a poor prospect is time you could be looking for gold elsewhere.

Dec 20

Create Valuable Customer Content

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Frequently we make up nice-looking sales brochures explaining to customers why they should utilize our service or buy our product. In sales we had a name for these sales brochures, we called them marketing collateral because customers usually just tossed them into the circular file.