I walk in and out of the backdoor of my home daily. But I recently discovered that I don't look at it very closely.
I noticed that the glass in the door was dirty with hand prints and our Lab's nose prints. I sprayed and wiped the window, then wondered, "Why hadn't I noticed that before?"
Was I losing my eyesight? Or, had walking through that door become such a habit that the dirt was familiar and that's why I didn't see it? Since spring is here, that door is just the first of many things I'll notice that will need some cleaning.
Spring also happens to be a great time to clean up your business.
Maybe you've given up on those New Year's resolutions you made for work, but you can still change those familiar habits that could be muddying your bottom line. You could be strangling your profitability and not even know it.
Related: How to Clean Up Your Business
Spring-clean your business by answering these four questions about how you work:
1. When you talk about your company, what words do you use?
Do you focus on the company itself, the key features it offers? As you listen to yourself, do you hear, "I" or "Us"? Or, "You" and "Your"?
It's a familiar habit to extol the virtues of your company, but your business features have value only as they benefit the customer. What problems do you solve for them? How is their work accomplished more quickly or pleasantly by your services? Spring clean the "me" from your conversation and focus on your customers wants and needs.
2. Who do you listen to more -- yourself or your client?
Do you try to sell your clients? Or, do you put yourself in their shoes and remove obstacles to their buying?
Your habit may be to sell, which focuses more on why your widget is the best one in the world. But what if that customer isn't interested in a widget? No amount of selling will close the deal.
Avoid being like the furniture-store sales rep who continually showed square and rectangular tables to a customer who wanted a round coffee table. Instead, ask the right questions with a smile, listen carefully, and you'll discover everything you need to know to help convert the visitor into a customer for life who sends all of his or her friends to you to buy.
3. Are your customers staying with you?
Many small-business owners I coach are laser-focused on finding new customers. That's great because customer acquisition is important. But do you also look in the rearview mirror to make sure your current, familiar customers are sticking around? Do you create mutually beneficial relationships that are transformative, not just transactional?
Related: How to Tap the Power of 'Thank You'
Who do you take your vehicle to for repairs -- someone who just keeps replacing parts and charging you for it? Or, someone who accurately diagnoses and fixes your vehicle's problem, allowing you to drive away confidently?
Your customers give you far more than their money. They give you their trust. They stay when you give them a reason to stay -- they trust you. Trust is the currency of excellent customer relationships.
4. Are you open to new methods of customer acquisition?
We tend to use the familiar methods of attracting customers because they once worked, and then end up getting less than what we always got.
When have you done something new and unfamiliar to attract new customers? Maybe you've thought about trying social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Go ahead and test it out. If you're already friending, connecting, and tweeting, give an old-school method of networking a try and meet over coffee or lunch with a customer or prospective business partner. Join a business networking group such as BNI.
Ask yourself these four questions and spring clean your business practices. Your company will sparkle with more profitability and you'll clearly see your bottom line grow more than ever.
Related: Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning