Greenhouse Canada

Business Management
Ten ways to lose money in your business


October 17, 2013
By Pam Lontos

Topics

Oct. 17, 2013 – Chances are that you’ve read numerous books and articles
on what to do to succeed in business. But often, knowing what not to do
is even more important. In order for your company to make more money,
be sure you’re not inadvertently making any of these top 10 business
mistakes.

1. Prejudging your customers

They say you can’t judge a
book by its cover, but all too often business owners prejudge their
prospects and customers before ever talking with them. How many times
have you met someone and thought, “I doubt he can afford my product,”
“She looks like she’d be impossible to work with,” or “This person isn’t
my ideal client”? Rather than prejudge and dismiss what could be your
next best customer, suspend judgment and take the time to get to know
each prospect and client. 

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2. Taking too long to follow up

If
someone calls or emails to inquire about your products or services, how
long does it take you to get back with them? While many business owners
think it’s okay to reply within three days, you really need to get back
to people within 24 hours or less. After all, if they’re contacting you
for information, they are likely contacting your competitors as well.

3 Not working with someone because of imagined slights

If
someone is having a bad day or is not feeling well, they may say or do
things that you think are meant in a mean way. For example, a prospect
may ask, “How did you get into this business?” But because of their
demeanor that day, or because they’re rushed, or because of any number
of other reasons, their question might come across to you as though they
asked, “How did you of all people get into this business because you
certainly don’t look smart enough to do this?” Never take anything a
customer says or does as a personal attack. It usually isn’t.

4. Making prospects and customers feel unimportant

People
want to know that they’re more than just another sale to you. They want
to feel that you really care. For example, one business owner was
stumped as to why one of the company’s best customers stopped buying.
Finally she asked the customer what happened, and the customer explained
that in the past the business owner had had always taken her out to
lunch once per quarter, and they hadn’t done that for nearly six months.
As a result, the customer felt that she no longer was important. Upon
hearing this, the business owner promptly took the customer out to
lunch, and she got a sale. Therefore, take an active interest in your
customers. Remember their birthdays. Send them a small gift on the
anniversary. Do whatever you can to make each customer feel special.

5. Not letting your staff handle important issues

When
there’s an issue with a customer, can your staff take care of most of
the situations? Or must everything wait for you to resolve it? When you
make customers wait for you to get an issue resolved, you’re giving them
extra time to stew over the situation and get angrier. Instead, give
your staff the training and tools to handle whatever situation arises so
they can make the customer happy right away. Remember, you want your
customers to always leave your store or office happy and with all their
issues resolved. That’s the best way to ensure repeat business.

6. Being inflexible with your hours

We
all want life balance, but sometimes work is not a nine to five job.
You have to be flexible if you want to get the sale. That means if you
have a good lead or a customer who is ready to spend money with you now,
you may have to work outside your normal business hours. So be open to
returning phone calls after business hours or even meeting with a client
on a weekend. You can always balance out the extended hours you put in
one day by taking time off another day.

7. Waiting too long to make an important decision

In
business, the speed at which you can make an important decision is
critical to your success. Opportunities won’t wait until next month,
next week, or even the next day. To prosper, you have to take action
quickly. For example, if you interview someone who seems perfect for
your open position, make an offer immediately. If you wait, another
company will also think the person is perfect and hire them. Or, if you
have an opportunity to sponsor an event at a good price, secure your
spot. When you hem and haw over the ROI of the decision, by the time you
make up your mind all the sponsorships could be bought. Trust your gut
when it comes to decision–making; it’s usually right on.

8. Making it impossible to find your contact information

Make
sure your contact information is easy to find. On your website, your
phone number and email address need to be prominent on every page.
Nothing frustrates customers more than wanting to contact you but not
being able to because they can’t locate your phone number on your
website or in your email signature. Even the most loyal customer will
eventually give up and call your competition simply because they made
their contact information visible and easy to find.

9.  Using marketing materials that make you look bad

Your
marketing materials tell a lot about your company, not just in the
words on the page but also in the overall look and feel of the piece.
Take a good look at your current marketing materials. Do they look
professional? Are there misspellings? Do they properly represent you?
When your marketing materials look like an amateur created them, or when
they’re riddled with errors, you send the message that you’re
unprofessional and incapable of delivering quality work. Make sure your
marketing materials present you in the best light.

10. Being rigid with your contracts

If
your business uses a contract with customers, it’s definitely an
important part of the transaction. However, just because it’s important
doesn’t mean it can’t also be flexible. If someone requests a change to
the contract, consider it. If it’s something small, give in to it.
Realize that sometimes people just want to feel as though they’ve won –
that they negotiated a good deal. So if the item they want to change is
small and not that important to you, let them have it. And rather than
give them more time to think about it while you reissue a new contract,
allow them to simply handwrite in the change and initial it. The quicker
the contract is executed, the sooner you’ll get the sale complete.

When you take the steps to avoid these top 10 mistakes, you’ll be on the fast track to long term success.

Pam
Lontos is president of Pam Lontos Consulting. Pam consults with
businesses, speakers, authors, and experts in the areas of marketing,
publicity and speaking. Pam is a past vice-president of sales for
Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting where she raised sales 500 per cent and
she founded PR/PR Public Relations. She is the author of I See Your Name
Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow Your Fame, Wealth
and Success. She is also a former professional speaker. For more
information on her consulting services, call (407) 522-8630 or email
Pam@PamLontos.com, www.PamLontos.com.


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