The world of business continues to become more complex. As a small-business owner, we must step back and accept that we can no longer be an expert in all areas needed to be successful. To succeed as owners, we must focus on a few crucial areas of business: producing and managing cash flow, getting customers in the door, maintaining positive employee morale and most importantly, cultivating and maintaining relationships.
Businesses are ultimately about relationships. Without them, you wouldn’t have clients, peers, suppliers, staff, etc. These connections are instrumental to success and they certainly don’t come easy. It takes work and effort to cultivate new relationships, and to nurture and maintain the ones you already have. The hard work and man hours are well worth it. Cristophe Salon falls within an industry where strong relationships with clients and others are vital. From our experience building connections, we have discovered a variety of relationships and the tools needed to create them.
- Focus on Current Client Relationships: Your clients are the reason you have a business, so it’s important to appreciate that they’ve chosen you as their business of choice. Acknowledge them, take care of them and connect with them. It’s monumental to your business that you build a relationship and establish trust with your clients. Communicate with your customers in a way that makes them feel like a priority– because they are. Do this by socializing with them and getting to know them beyond the standard professional “hellos” and “goodbyes”. One way we do this at Cristophe Salon Newport Beach is by creating an environment in which customers know we care about them as individuals. We offer our first time clients one-on-one consultations to match them with the stylist who will best fit what they’re personality and style. Connecting with your clients will only make your business flourish.
- Collaborate: Instead of ostracizing other competitors in your field, try collaborating with them. If you network with other small businesses, new opportunities will present themselves more frequently. You’ll be surprised to see how many potential partnerships and clients will arise should you decide to work with others rather than against them. We are putting this approach into action by inviting all stylists in Orange County to join us at the Cristophe Salon Newport Beach Hair Show in April. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people in our industry and share our passion for hair styling.
- Promote: This coincides with collaborating. Learn to be a promoter! And not just your own business. Seek out examples of other’s standout work in your field or partner with businesses near your location and share it with your clients. This not only creates goodwill with those you’re highlighting, but it shows you care about building relationships with everyone. We often take the time to re-tweet others looks we like or share upcoming local events put on by neighboring businesses. Find ways to promote other companies at events, on social media or by word of mouth. It will result in more attention than purely self-promotional pieces will.
- Utilize Social Media: It is vital to take advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Foursquare, etc. In today’s digital age, everyone seems to use it and rely on to remain in the loop, get information, or give feedback. Social media offers great value to small businesses, so don’t overlook it! It isn’t enough to simply be on a social media channel like Twitter or Facebook; you must utilize them as well. Use the platforms to list updated information such as business hours, company updates, industry news, photos, and events. Be wary of self-promotion – fans will quickly delete or remove your news from their streams. It’s called social media for a reason, so interact with your followers. Ask them questions, encourage client feedback and build those crucial relationships. We frequently ask our followers which looks they like best via Facebook posts and Tweets, respond to direct questions, and recognize when someone shares their experience. We also ask others to share their thoughts and ideas on our blog posts. These bits of humanization via social media are more powerful than you might think, and customers remember them!
What techniques do you use for building and maintaining relationships? Share your thoughts with us below!