Building Customer Loyalty in a Social World

The holidays may seem pretty far away, but stores are already putting decorations on the walls and wrapping paper on the shelves. Although it’s not even Halloween yet, families are gathering wish lists and checking out the shops.

With the holidays upon us already (whether you like it or not) it’s a great time for a little reminder about creating customer loyalty. Consumers today have almost endless options for most of the goods and services they want and need, so what sets you apart? Why do they come to your store for that special gift or call your company when they need a new roof? It’s all creating an excellent customer experience and building client loyalty. The art of premiere customer service is often lost in a world of online shopping, but it’s important to go out of your way to create an excellent experience whenever possible. That may seem obvious, but taking your service to the next level takes concerted effort from everyone on your team.

Business owners are also dealing with a whole new animal when it comes to customer service – social media. There’s an old saying that someone who has a bad experience will tell twice as many people as someone who has a great experience. In a world ruled by Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other social sites, this is especially true and someone business owners have to embrace and handle bad AND good experiences appropriately.

When someone has a great experience…

Ask them to help you spread the word about your business! Consider asking them to fill out a quick survey, post a review on your favorite reviewing site, tell their friends (and TAG your business on social media), refer someone they know, join your enews list, etc. If they ARE willing to do at least one of those things, be sure to send a thank you.

When someone has a bad experience…

Fix it! When someone has a bad experience – especially when it’s an issue of time wasted or service ignored – they are going to tell their friends. If they’re really upset, they’re also going to take the time to post a bad review online. Bad reviews can haunt you for years! If someone has a bad experience, even when you disagree with the issue, you need to step in and make it right if at all possible.

When someone contacts you…

It’s more common than ever for potential or current customers to reach out to you socially. Whether they’re asking a question or requesting something special, it’s important to respond as quickly as possible. It’s OK if you can’t accommodate the request, but the fact that you took the time to reply in a timely matter shows that you care. Of course responding quickly and being understanding is just as important if they call or email you! Check out this great example:

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Go Back to SWOT.

Owning and running a business is hard. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re constantly dealing with the competition, cash flow, employee issues, changing technologies, surprises, busyness… not to mention the economy and government interference. That kind of constant complexity is par for the course when it comes to owning your own business – but you have to learn how to manage it. Letting the stresses of business ownership get to you is the best way to burn yourself out. Owning a business – when done right – can give you a tremendous amount of flexibility, freedom, fulfillment and financial success. Aren’t you ready to embrace those benefits?

At The Growth Coach, we urge our clients and friends to do what they can to keep from being overwhelmed by the challenges of being an entrepreneur. After all, having these issues isn’t actually the problem. The real problem is when you don’t know how to HANDLE these challenges. You have to have a simple framework in place to identify and address business issues. You need systems in place to help you manage the ever-changing landscape of your company. You must be able to rely on an effective and consistent method to tackle problems and seize opportunities.

Let’s get back to the basics. You can learn to manage your business challenges by implementing a tried and true strategy – the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis. Rather than spending your days REACTING the issues with your business, put a SWOT Analysis plan in place to deal with challenges as they arise. Here’s a series of questions to help you with that analysis:


  • What are your personal and company strengths, unique talents and money-making assets?
  • Which are the most promising strengths – personal and corporate – to pursue now?
  • How can you effectively leverage, maximize and multiply these strengths?

Weaknesses (Don’t spend too much time on weaknesses or they’ll just become strong weaknesses!)

  • What are your personal and company weaknesses and liabilities?
  • How can you effectively neutralize, delegate or outsource these weaknesses?


  • What are your money-making opportunities at hand right now?
  • Which are the most promising opportunities with the greatest ROI?
  • How can you go about effectively seizing these opportunities?


  • What are the greatest threats/dangers facing you and your business?
  • How can you effectively eliminate or minimize these threats?

Once you have this SWOT Analysis in place, you’ll be able to refer to it whenever you’re facing a business problem. Having this simple process at your fingertips will help you focus on the most important elements of your business without getting overwhelmed!

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Just the Facts? You Have to Sell It.

When you think about your job as a business owner, CEO or manager, what duties come to mind? Does that list include sales? If you’re leading a company, it’s part of your job to be a great sales person – not just of the products or services your company provides, but also of the brand itself!  You need to be able to show people what makes you and your business different and you need to be able to convince those people that it’s in their best interest to work with you.

But here’s the rub: You can’t just present the facts. You have to sell it.

There was a study published in the Boston Globe a few years back that showed that, when people are presented with just facts, they are more likely to cling to their wrongly held beliefs rather than agree with you. You have to be an educator! You have to be able to take the facts and present them to your potential client in a way that shows them the benefit of working with you.

Step back and take a look at your business. What makes you different? What sets you apart from the competition? Why should people work with you? Being able to answer those three questions – and work them into your sale – is a vital part of being able to take the facts and apply them to your prospect.

At The Growth Coach, we’re always telling our clients that SALES is a job in everyone’s job description. Every single employee should be positively representing the company, selling your image and finding ways to generate business by earning additional clients, selling more products or fulfilling more services. If you can combine that attitude with a solid understanding of how to SELL your business, you’re one-step closer to success.

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How to Prospect More Effectively

As a business owner or CEO, you are busier than ever. You’re implementing growth strategies, managing employees and controlling the system you’ve built while maintaining a life outside of work. But, just like any business, yours can’t be successful without selling. Bringing on new customers by leveraging your skills to improve your prospects can make a dramatic difference to your bottom line.

Take some time today to take a step back, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and ask yourself what your potential clients are seeing when they look at your business and what concerns or fears they might have. How can you use your knowledge and skill set to increase their confidence in your business? What areas of the company might need extra attention?

Here’s a breakdown of the process you can use to make your prospecting efforts even more effective:

  1. Identify what an ideal prospect looks like and what they want from your business.
  2. Segment your prospect list and great priorities on where to start – beginning with the best opportunities.
  3. Set new contact goals on a daily and weekly basis.
  4. Work to minimize distractions when you’re focused on prospecting.
  5. Practice developing effective responses to common objections and know what makes you unique.
  6. Review your sales calls and meetings to better prepare you for future calls and meetings. What worked? What didn’t work? What can you build on moving forward?
  7. Build partnerships with vendors and others reliant on your business and encourage them to be referral sources.
  8. Develop meaningful relationships with your best referral sources.

Do any of these tips make you uncomfortable? If so, what are you afraid of? If any of these areas give you pause, you need to rally yourself to improve that element of your prospecting process. If you can’t focus your attention on selling your business, you can’t build a successful company!

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Featured Blog: How to take advantage of the new ‘caveat venditor’ world in sales

We’ve all been there – you walk onto a car lot and a sales person comes up and asks if he or she can help. You know what car you want, and you know you need a sales person, but chances are that your answer will be that you’re “just looking.” But why? It’s probably because you want to avoid what feels like a high pressure sale from someone who is paid on commission, even though you know exactly what you want. So what’s the issue?

Ingar Grev, the managing director of The Growth Coach in Washington D.C., recently published a post on the Business Journal’s website about commission. Consider this: If someone is paid on commission, aren’t they more likely to go the extra mile to help you have an amazing buying experience? Grev’s post also addressed the “caveat venditor” – or seller beware – that addresses the issue of working with a buyer who comes to the table knowing exactly what they want.

Check it out on the Business Journal’s website:

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Need inspiration? Try These 22 Powerful Quotes

History is full of great people leaders – in business, art, humanities and more. Sometimes, when you’re in need of some serious inspiration, their words can make a big difference. Here are 22 powerful quotes for the next time you need a little motivation.

  1. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
  2. “Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  3. “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown
  4. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
  5. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray
  6. “Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou
  7. “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington.
  8. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
  9. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight Eisenhower
  10. “Please think about your legacy, because you’re writing it every day”. – Gary Vaynerchuk
  11. “The only way around is through.” – Robert Frost
  12. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
  13. “Your time is precious, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
  14. “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis
  15. “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson
  16. “Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.” – Tony Hsieh
  17. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Anonymous
  18. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
  19. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
  20. “Live daringly, bolding, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition – in having put forth the best within you.” – Henry J. Kaiser
  21. “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy
  22. “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
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Wake Up Call! Are You Where You Want to Be?

In today’s busy, work-based world, it can be extremely easy to get so wrapped up in your work life that you forget everything else. If you’re a business owner, this can be especially challenging. But it’s important to remember that you opened your business so you could have a better life – not so you could work 80 hours per week. Take 10 minutes today to consider your work and personal life. What makes you happy? What doesn’t? And, if you could change one thing, what would it be?

At The Growth Coach, we’re willing to bet that your answers will be some version of “I wish I had slowed down” and “I hope I will have built something people will remember me by.”

We’ve all heard people say that time flies by – even when it doesn’t feel like it. How often do you say things like, “Is it July already?” or “Wow your kids have gotten so big!” And even when you take time to reflect on times that may have seemed to take forever (try high school or the first six months when your newborn wasn’t sleeping), doesn’t it seem like time went too quickly? Just remember that, until your time is up, it’s never too late to slow down. Set aside time this weekend to take your spouse somewhere romantic and then schedule a meeting with yourself next week to block out times throughout each and every week doing what you love and spending time with people you care about.

When it comes to building a legacy, try not to forget that it’s not all about money. In most cases, we’d all rather be able to look back on our lives and say that we made a difference – that the impact of our being alive meant that the lives of others was improved. For entrepreneurs and business owners, this might also mean leaving a physical business to the next generation. If that’s your plan, start making those preparations now! You need to have strong business systems in place if someone else is going to take over – whether that’s in two years or 25 years.

So before your dedicate your days to reflecting on your days from a porch swing, take some time to do that now! It’s not too late to make changes and live an even better life.

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Finding Work/Life Balance – Especially in Family Business

We’ve all heard the phrase “following in my father’s footsteps” – but does that phrase indicated that you have to find a way to step exactly into each step? Or does it come down to just sticking to a similar trail? When it comes to following in the footsteps of the previous generation in a family business, finding your own footholds is vital part of helping the company thrive AND still wanting to talk to your mom or dad when the phone rings.

What I’m saying is that you have to find the right balance between work and life, especially when it comes to working in – and eventually inheriting or passing on – a family business. Here are some solutions families can use to build a healthy working relationship while maintaining a happy relationship at home:

Create boundaries: Make sure that all family members involved in the business understand that there is a time for work and a time for family. Although it’s difficult, try to keep those two things separate. It’s also important to respect the boundaries of others, and remember that Christmas is not the time for a board meeting even if you’re all in the same room!

Compartmentalize: If you’re bringing a family member into the business and you want that person to take any level of ownership in the business, give them certain tasks or departments to oversee and lead. Not only does this take some of the day-to-day operations off your plate, but it also gives your family member a place to grow and make their own. Also, work to keep work at work and home at home, no matter how tempting it may be to talk shop over Sunday dinner.

Build an Identity: If you’re the one joining the family business, you need to be more than Mr. Smith’s daughter or Mrs. Johnson’s son. You have to earn the respect of your employees as your own person and not just as the next generation and that all starts with building an identity. It’s also a good idea to find a place where your name doesn’t matter – like as part of a community group.

– Growth Coach President Nathan Owens

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Sales – It’s Not a Department

How does a business become successful? Is it about the quality of the product or service? The customer experience? The convenience? The local need? Building a successful company is about all of those things – but it all really comes down to SALES. You can have the best product with the most helpful team, but if you can’t close the deal, your business will still fail.

For this blog, I thought it would be a good time to talk about a common misconception – that sales is a department. Sure, you may have people who dedicate their entire day to selling your product or service, but every single person who works in your business needs to understand that sales is part of the job. Even if they won’t be putting sales on a resume, every single person a potential customer interacts with is involved in the sales process.

So how can you help your employees understand that selling is part of every job? It’s all about changing the mindset. If you can get your team to understand that providing an excellent customer services experience translates directly to improved sales and a stronger business, your products and services will nearly sell themselves.

If your sales people – or your entire team – could use a mindset adjustment, then it might be time to consider bringing in a Growth Coach to work through our year-long Sales Mastery program. Sales Mastery will provide your team with the tools and experience needed to be successful. It’s about more than teaching professional skills, it’s about helping the members of your team grow personally. Learn more:

– Growth Coach President Nathan Owens

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Business Owner, You Need a Vacation

It’s that time of year! The kids are out of school, the days are longer and the temperatures are warm and inviting. While it’s important to dedicate time to your family and friends throughout the year, summer is that special time of year for family vacations, trips to the beach, making memories at a local theme park, going to the county fair and more. Unwinding is important because gives you the chance to regain your emotional balance and the opportunity to reflect on your business and passions.

But checking out without checking in on your business can be a real challenge for some business owners. Can your business survive without you? Or, if you decide to take a vacation, will you be hanging a closed sign in the window? Even a very small business should be able to operate without the owner in the shop every day. You wanted to OWN a business – not just RUN a business.

So, can you leave your business unattended? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. If you won a cruise vacation and had to leave tomorrow, what would happen to your business?
  2. If you decided to leave for a month, who would run your business?
  3. If you were injured and had to leave work for three months, would your business survive?
  4. If circumstances were to change in your life and you decided to sell the business, who would buy it? Can it run without you?

If you found yourself unsure of the answers to those questions, you need to put systems in place so your business can run without you! Your operating systems need to be in writing, you need staff members who can operate the business in your absence and you need managers who are trained to do your day-to-day tasks. If you’re struggling with this, then it’s time to meet with a Growth Coach:

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