December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 D E C E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 85 were referred to you, it's very important you follow up with them consistently. This means providing yourself an organized means of keeping track of potential customers and having a set plan to do so. The best way to organize your potential custom- ers is via a CRM (Customer Relationship Man- agement) software. If you aren't familiar with this, jump on Google and start searching for a small business CRM. You can find very inexpensive ways to help organize your customer database. Not using a CRM is an example of how people can trip over dollars to pick up pennies. This is something that would only cost you a few hun- dred dollars a year but can help you gain thou- sands of dollars in business. Essentially, CRM software can help you save contact information, create follow-up tasks, keep notes, save quotes, and track lead sources. Not only will it keep you organized, but it will also allow you to gather data on your customers and make future business deci- sions based on that data. In addition to having a CRM, you should set aside time every day to answer emails, return phone calls, and reach out to people you have sent quotes to. Don't be intimidated about following up with people, even if they said, "I will call you when I am ready." Follow up frequently but re- spectfully; let them know their business is impor- tant to you. 3. Deliver an excellent buying experience. Start- to-finish you should make sure that every custom- er has the same experience with your company: an excellent one. It all starts with the initial quote and moves through to delivering your order. First, start with a written quote in a readable format, even if you are just using a handwritten template. A formatted quote will ensure you don't forget any details and your customer can easily understand your pricing. Avoid quickly typed emails or ver- bal quotes, as these lead to misunderstandings too often, and ultimately a poor customer experience. Once your customer has been quoted and agrees to do business with you, it's imperative to set appro- priate expectations. This includes delivery times, artwork specifications, garment quality, decorating limitations, and anything else that comes to mind. Stick to the adage of under-promise and over-deliv- er. If you think you can deliver in five days, set an expectation for seven days. If you haven't decorated on their choice of apparel before, be honest about it and request a few extra days. After the order is completed, be sure to deliver the finished product with care. Box or bag them up neatly and organized. Include a final copy of the invoice and a thank-you note. Be sure they are all folded and clean. Don't allow the end of the transaction to leave your customer dissatisfied. The delivery of their product is the most exciting time for them, take care to finish the race strong. 4. Post-sale follow ups. Even though your transaction is finalized, the sales process isn't over. It is just as important to give them a follow up call or email. Make sure nothing was missing, or they didn't end up dissatisfied. Some business owners will avoid this with the idea of letting sleeping dogs lie, or no news is good news. Now, yes, you might make a phone call and end up with an earful of trouble. This isn't bad news, though. You can fix their problems and make them happy. It's better that you hear about it first before they tell their friends and associates. However, most of the time your follow-up calls will go well and you will re- ceive thanks and praise. This little step can improve your customer service impression. The follow-up call isn't over yet. Be sure to set a reminder in your CRM for another day down the road. This timeframe depends on the customer and their possible order frequency. Your follow-up call could be in two weeks, two months, or next year. Just call them back again in the future, thank them for their previous order, and find out when you can help them again. These four steps are a way for your business to make sure every customer gets the same experi- ence, which is needed for growing your business and making more money. How often do you find your customer service dropping off when you get busy? How many potential customers did you forget to follow up with because you weren't orga- nized? How many unanswered emails are in your archives? Create a plan, get organized, be con- sistent, and stick to it. It's time you start taking advantage of all the benefits of being an entrepre- neur. You are the boss now.

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