Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How TO DO public relations and business development!

   Our last blog entry described how NOT to do public relations and business development.  Here is a recent example of HOW TO DO great public relations and business development!
   I attended Rotary at a different club than my own club because I needed a make-up meeting.  This club meets in a nice restaurant which has great meeting space, good food and a cordial, welcoming atmosphere.  As I was paying for my lunch, an individual had engaged the restaurant manager about a negative experience a few days before.  As the individual was describing what had happened, the manager carefully and calmly listened to the guest's dissatisfaction.  At the end of the discussion, the manager said, "Wow, I was not here, however, I sure understand your dissatisfaction. If you had that experience, I am sure other guests felt the same way, but did not tell me! I am glad you told me about what happened.  I will correct it immediately.   Let me give you a gift certificate to try our restaurant again!"  The manager gave the individual a gift certificate, the guest left and promised to come back and try the restaurant again!
    As I visited with the manager, he told me that guest satisfaction is his highest priority.  He said that he was sure that if this guest was unhappy, there were others that were also unhappy, however, he would not have known anything about it if he was not told.
    The manager told me that he works hard with his staff to insure that each and every guest has a positive dining experience.  However, when the guests don't have a positive experience, he wants to "make it right", no matter what must be done.  In this case, he was happy with the issuance of the gift certificate and the guest was willing to come and eat again.
    This is the kind of positive public relations and customer service that people remember.  Interestingly, research has shown that people who have a gift certificate will almost always spend more money than the value of the gift certificate.  Another point is that only about 40% of all gift certificates are ever fully redeemed, so the business owner normally makes money on a gift certificate.
    What I found so interesting in this example was that the manager clearly understood that his guest was his number one priority and he wanted to insure great guest satisfaction. 
     After reading the previous blog entry, what business do you want to business with?  I want to do business with the firm whose manager clearly understands the importance of the guest/client!  Think about how this might impact your business!  There is a great teaching point contained herein!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How NOT TO DO public relations and business development!

  This is one of 2 blog posts on effective public relations and business development.  The first is how NOT TO DO effective public relations and business development.
   I had a client invite me to play golf with him the other day.  The weather was good, the course was supposed to be in good shape and it had been a week since I had played golf.  I said, "Sure, count me in!"  The client told me that a couple of officers from his bank would be joining us to make a foursome.
   I showed up at the golf course at the same time my client arrived.  We went into the clubhouse and signed in.  The lady asked how we were going to pay for our golfing.  My client said, "We'll just wait".  I said fine.  About 8 minutes past the scheduled tee time, here come the two bankers roaring up in their car.  We went back into the clubhouse, the bankers signed up and once again, the pro shop lady asked how we were going to pay for it.  The senior banker said, "I will pay for me, my client and my partner!"  I thought, "Ummmmm, that was very interesting."  I paid my fee and joined my client back in our golf cart.  I told my client that I probably would not be joining them for dinner although I had been previously invited to join the group for dinner by my client, because I was "Not a bank client".
   Now, don't get me wrong, I was not expecting anything.  I was fully prepared to pay for my golf outing and whatever expenses I incurred.  No mention was ever made of having the fees covered by anyone, let alone the bankers.  HOWEVER, from a public relations and business development standpoint, both of these bankers failed to show any slight modicum of skill in trying to grow the assets of the bank and increase their customer base by using basic business development skills.
   It was obvious that my client was very embarrassed by the behavior of his bankers.  I said, "Don't worry about it." 
   We commenced to play golf, loose several golf balls, find a couple of golf balls along the way.  When we reached the 18th hole, my client invited me to join the group for dinner.  My client said that his wife would also be joining us.  I was excited to see my client's wife, she had been out of town last week visiting their grandchild out of state.
   I decided that I would go to the dinner and if need be, ask for a separate check to insure that I did not cost the bank any money!  Interestingly, the junior banker said, "Give me the check" and he commenced to pay it, not making any mention that I was not a bank client.  I told him "Thanks" and left for home.
   Now, I want to be real clear, I was certainly not expecting anything.  I am fully capable and able to pay my own way.  What was the surprising and embarrassing factor was that the senior banker made a big deal of it at the pro shop--- or at least as I viewed the matter.
    Believing that perhaps my thinking was skewed, I visited with my personal banker and asked if I may have misunderstood something.  After listening with great amazement, my personal banker said I was exactly on target--- the young bankers committed a significant public relations snafu and may not have realized it! 
    My personal banker told the story of the founder of his bank.  He said that the founder of his bank never failed to pick up many breakfast and lunch tabs of folks he was with.  The interesting factoid here is that simple public relations gesture early in the life of the bank allowed the bank to grow and today become one of the largest banks in the upper Rocky Mountains.
    My personal banker said that in the public relations arena, especially of any business that needs clients (don't we all need clients/customers?), the simple thing to do was generously offer to pick up the tab.  Once the tab was picked up, an opportunity was created, a door opened to try and develop some new business for the bank or whatever firm it might be.
    In the scenario that I just described, neither banker ever asked me what I did, whom I worked for or if I needed any banking services or was happy with my current bank.  What I found amazing here was the fact that our firm works with clients throughout the world.  We work with clients that have only 1-2 employees, we work with clients that have 1200-1500 employees.  Our consultants meet with many different clients in the course of a month.  Some of those clients need banking services.  However, each of the bankers described in this article just lost 4 real rich business development hours learning about our firm and how we might be able to help the bank grow.
    My personal banker opined that, after hearing the story I described, both of these bankers appeared more interested in leaving the bank early to play golf as opposed to leaving the bank early, play golf with a good client and have the opportunity to try and develop more business for the bank with a prospect that their client had invited to play golf with them.
   The key takeaway's from this experience are these:
            A.  Never forget that the simple things are usually the most important things!
            B.  Public Relations is a two way street-- it is much easier to "do the right thing" then try and do things right!
            C.  David O. McKay, the 7th President of the LDS church once said that "every member is a missionary".  Here, every employee is a "missionary" for the firm with whom they work.  Never forget that if opportunities are presented, every employee should tirelessly labor to develop new clients and new business.
            D.  If you need a round of golf, or a lunch, let me know, I would love to take you!  Yes, our firm will pay for it!  I want to learn more about what you do and how we might help you improve your business or organization!

Friday, July 2, 2010

"You are an hour late, we are out of that"

  Today's blog title was the response a friend of mine received the other day when he went into a sandwich shop for lunch.  He told me his first response was, "Wow, what did I do to deserve that answer?"  That was the same thought that I had when he told me the story.
   The reason he patronized this particular sandwich shop is that they make very good sandwiches and have several different kinds and flavors of different breads.  This shop is not the cheapest shop in town, however, they make great sandwiches!
   As we sat and had lunch under the shade tree at the courthouse, ( a fund raiser for a charity) we discussed how the counter clerk could have positively handled this exchange.  My first thought was where was the owner-- did he/she hear this exchange?  Is this the type of exchange that they tolerate their employees to make?  Maybe the counter clerk did not know any better or had not been trained in the finer essences of customer service, however, having the customer feel that the problem was of his making is wrong!  Especially since the shop has a reputation for having good food!  One only knows that in the food business today, there are lots of places to spend a food dollar-- running a customer off will insure that they will never return to your shop.  In all likelihood, the client just became a customer of your competitor, at your expense!!
   OK, so how should this encounter have been treated differently?  Here is how----
  A.  The clerk may say, "We just ran out of that bread, however, we just baked this new loaf of a different flavor bread, may I make your sandwich with the new bread?"
  B.  The clerk may say, "We just got a hot new loaf right out of the oven, would you like to try that?"
There are probably 10000 more ways in which a negative (running out of one particular flavor of bread) can be turned into a positive (try another flavor you may not have tried before).  We always want to turn a negative into a positive whenever possible.  In most cases, this is easily done.
   As we have addressed in other blog entries, the key here is good employee training and strong customer relationship skills.  Sadly, it appears both were lacking in this real world, honest, example.
   We never want the customer to feel that whatever challenge the business may experience was caused by the customer.  However, in this case, that appears to have been the case.
   Being the owner of the business, strong customer relationships and employee training are critical to continued economic viability and success.  Never allow the customer to leave the store on a negative note.  He/she may never return.  Always try to find a positive feature when a negative experience occurs.  There is always a strong, positive point to be recognized when a negative matter occurs.  It does, however, sometimes require some deep seeking and searching!
   Did the sandwich shop loose a customer permanently?  No, I don't think so.  The sandwiches are too good, however, there is no reason to alienate any customer.  See how your business responds to stock outage.  The response you get will tell you a lot about your organizational climate and environment!  If the organizational climate and environment is not one you are happy with, today is the day to begin the change process!