Know When It’s Showtime (Let’s All Look Good)

The first article in this series listed more than 25 tactics to increase your business success, all of them based on my experience. I started with nothing and didn’t get to college, so I know you can achieve maximum success, regardless of your education. E-mail me to get the first article or any of the other articles in the series. Each of the articles after the first takes a closer look at one of the tactics.

When I was just starting my business career, before I owned salvage yards, I fixed, bought, and sold automobiles. I was fortunate to sell one to very successful local real estate agent. He had been selling luxury homes for most of his life and was buying a car for his teenaged son.

I remember him and the transaction because he was an excellent negotiator, but also because he gave me a piece of advice about building my auto-sales business. He said, “When you’re in front of a client, remember, it’s show time.”

He meant that the appearance that you project to those you want to do business with (or those you are doing business with) matters. I certainly would not have looked the part for my work as a mechanic selling cars dressed in suit-and-tie as he was, but I understood his point: The image that I (and my business) project is an important key to its success.

As customers, we make judgements about businesses based upon appearances. The impression made by uniformed parts delivery people in clean trucks is different from the impression made by the same delivery from a sloppily dressed driver in a dirty, rusted truck.

How do the customer-facing parts of your business look? Are you projecting the image that you want to project to your customers?

The other part of projecting a show-time image is how your team members interact with one another when they are in front of customers. Are they working as a team to make one another perform better and look good in the eyes of the customer?

What does your delivery driver say to the customer if a picker picked the wrong part? What does the parts counter person say about the cradle-to-grave dismantler if a part is in the computer but it isn’t where it should be on the shelf when a customer arrives to get it?

The wrong answer is to roll a teammate under the bus. Blaming a teammate only diminishes the business in the eyes of the customer. It does nothing to solve a disappointed customer’s issue.

Your team’s answers should be focused on solving the issue for the customer, not on shifting blame for the failure. A consultant I hired reminded me that, when team members support one another this way, it becomes a virtuous circle.

When they are making one another look good, the whole team performs better because every member trusts his teammates to be truthful and tactful with customers, but to keep the focus on solving the issue. When that customer’s issue is fixed, and in a place away from other customers, the team can huddle to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

One of the tactics that I have used to ensure that those who are serving customers stay in showtime mode is to hire mystery shoppers to get a snapshot of customer service and find out whether team members are supporting one another when it’s showtime.

Because I was leading the way, competitors had to decide whether to respond. Yes, I had an eye on them, but I didn’t let them worry me much. I stayed too busy planning, managing, measuring, and executing. You should too.

Remember only you can make business great!

Ron Sturgeon, Mr. Mission Possible, has been a successful business owner for more than 35 years. As a small business consultant, he can deliver wisdom and advice gleaned from an enviable business career that started when he opened a VW repair business as a homeless 17-year-old and culminated in the sale of several businesses he built to Fortune 500 companies.Ron has helped bankers, lawyers, insurance agents, restaurant owners, and body shop owners, as well as countless salvage yard owners to become more successful business people. He is an expert in helping small business owners set the right business strategies, implement pay-for- performance, and find new customers on the web.

As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plainspoken style, providing field-proven, and high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve. Ron is the author of nine books, including How to Salvage More Millions from Your Small Business.

To inquire about consulting or keynote speaking, contact Ron at 817-834-3625, ext. 232,, 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117.