The Best Form of Marketing Is Totally Free. Here's How to Unlock It. More than advertising and promotions, great customer service is the single most impactful factor to drive more business.
- Customer service is the greatest and easiest tool for building your business.
- Don't just aim to make a sale — try to earn a repeat customer.
- Whatever you're selling, remember that you're in the people business.
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This is part 4 / 4 of The Wealthy Franchisee: Section 3: Mastering the Wealthy Franchisee Skill Set series.
Customer service is the absolute greatest tool available to you for building your business. More than marketing, more than sales, great customer service is the single most controllable factor impacting your operation.
Your franchisor has probably suggested some best practices for customer service, but none of these practices will be effective unless you and your team have the right mindset. Mindset is to customer service what a melody is to lyrics. The melody dictates how you sing the words in a song and determines the pace and mood of the music. In a business, mindset dictates how you execute your operations and sets the tone for the service you provide. It's the difference between a forgettable transaction and a memorable connection between you and your customer.
Customer service is your best marketing
When you advertise, you're hoping to persuade someone to try you out. Most people who see the ad won't respond. The average consumer on the street isn't that valuable. But someone who's walked through your door? They're worth everything. They're gold. They're the people you've been looking for. The experience you give customers is the ultimate form of marketing. It will determine how much they spend, whether they'll come back, and what they say to others. When you make a good impression on them, they'll do your marketing for you.
Consider the difference between wanting to make a sale and wanting to earn a repeat customer. If someone is standing in front of you and you want to make a sale, you ask them what they want, give it to them, and take their money. Done. You've made good on your value proposition: They came in to buy the thing they wanted, they leave satisfied, and they go about their day. The average franchisee thinks this is adequate service. But a wealthy franchisee looks at the person in front of them and sees more than a sale — they see many sales. They see a spokesperson who talks to friends and writes online reviews. Mostly, they see someone they can help. A wealthy franchisee is not predatory. Sure, they want the customer to spend money and come back again. But they know that to win future business, they have to blow the customer's mind today.
Some of these ways might cost them a little more; some of them are added value they throw in for free. They may even find a way to save the customer a few bucks. This isn't discounting — it's marketing and making an investment. They've already spent money advertising to strangers who may never come into their store. Doesn't it make sense to spend a little on someone who's already identified themselves as a lead? And how much is it worth if that customer tells others about their business? Their praise in conversation or online will go a lot farther than anything people see or hear in the franchisee's own ads.
But none of this is on the franchisee's mind at the moment. They decided long before this transaction to build their business by making customers happy, so they can leave feeling better than when they came in. That's the franchisee's mission and mindset, and it's the philosophy they instill in their employees. They are not thinking about selling. Rather, they are focusing on how they can make this customer really, really happy. The average franchisee's "satisfied" customer leaves thinking about the next thing they have to do that day. The wealthy franchisee's customer leaves thinking about what a great experience they just had. That customer goes back to work and tells a few people in the break room, "Have you tried that place on Beverly Boulevard? They're so great!"
Transactions vs. Experiences
Two elements define the customer experience: what the customer gets and how the customer feels. What they get — the transaction — is the operational piece. It's the ice cream cone, the pest control, or the carpet cleaning. How they feel is the human piece. Getting an ice cream cone can be a very different experience, depending on where you buy it. And creating great experiences is the key to building a fan base. Some brands understand this better than others. Sport Clips Haircuts Founder/Chairman Gordon Logan is a down-to-earth Texan who gets stratospheric results. He attributes much of this to what he calls Sport Clips' "MVP Haircut Experience." I asked him how that differs from a standard haircut. He said, "Most men can't tell the difference between an average haircut and a great one. But everyone can tell the difference between an average experience and a better one." He walked me through how Sport Clips creates that experience, going into great detail about the easy mobile app check-in, the sports-themed décor, the consultation, and the cut. Then comes the hot steamed towel, the shampoo massage, and the neck and shoulder treatment. His vivid description made me want to drop my pen and head straight to a Sport Clips. Gordon is very clear that cutting someone's hair isn't enough. "We want people to leave feeling good about themselves," he said.
Another example is the Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market, where the motto is "We sell happy." And they really do. Great food isn't enough. They want everyone who walks through the door to feel good. If they provide an amazing BLT but don't make the guest feel better than when they came in, they consider that a failure. That sandwich comes with a smile, a friendly greeting, and some sort of personal interaction that makes the guest feel welcome. They don't sell lunch. They sell happy. This philosophy is constantly drilled into every team member.
Wealthy franchisees provide more than products or services and do more than facilitate transactions. Whatever they're selling, they're in the people business. They use their products and services to make people happy. That's why they beat the competition every time. People are driven more by their feelings than anything else. Logic therefore dictates that the smart move is to enhance your customers' emotional state. Go beyond your operational function and appeal to their humanity. Of course, this can only happen when you're willing to exhibit yours.
Your job as a franchisee is not to offer someone a wonderful day. It's to provide them with a wonderful moment. But this only happens when you and your employees are present with them. It's not what you say—it's what you convey that matters. Asking employees to say friendly things is not the same thing as being friendly.