If you accomplished just 2% more in a day, what would that add up to over time? This was the question posed to Remodeling Leadership Conference attendees during the presentation "Outrageous Achievement: Doing More With Less" by sales expert Lorna Riley. Riley is founder and CEO of Chart Learning Solutions and author of 76 Ways to Build a Straight Referral Business ASAP, which she used as the basis of her presentation. Here are a few of Riley’s “76 Ways,” as framed for remodelers.
#62. Set Stretch Goals
Having a goal, a game plan, and motivation are all essential for success, but “having just one or two of these is not enough,” Riley says. All three must be in place, and all must stretch the goal-setter, such as striving for a bigger bottom line than you expect to achieve. “We all have comfort zones -- everyone can say, ‘This is as far as I can go,’ and just do what’s comfortable,” Riley says. “Instead, you have to use the 2% Rule. Examine what you can do 2% more in your business to change your trajectory. Sometimes we have to do some things differently.”
Even increasing business by 2% requires additional leads. Riley says that lengthening your list of potential clients is as easy as asking for the referrals. “Trust is still a foundation in business,” she says. “When someone does a great job, people will ask for the name of the company that did the work.” The trust that one homeowner feels for his or her remodeler can translate to a friend or family member through a referral.
Riley offered four steps that make referrals easy to “WRAP” up.
W: Wait until the right time. The right time to ask for a referral is when the client is in a good mood, Riley suggests. Ask for referrals after the job is finished, the dust settles, and the customer is telling you how happy they are.
R: Review the benefits and value. Remind the client how much better their remodeled space will serve their needs.
A: Ask for the referral. Find out if the client knows family members, friends, neighbors, or other acquaintances who may find your services useful.
P: Pave the way. Once you’ve asked for the referral, let the homeowner do some of the legwork for you. “When a customer does have someone in mind, you take additional control of the referral event,” Riley says. “Ask them to make a phone call to that person in advance because who will sell you more than a satisfied client?”
#30. Exceed the Four Levels of Customer Expectations
Most service providers believe that customer service is a client expectation. However, Riley shared results of consumer research that show otherwise. When asked for their top expectations from a service provider, consumers listed the following four characteristics:
Accuracy: Is your work accurate? “This is the baseline that all customers expect,” Riley says. “Did you get the order right?”
Availability: Be there when they need you. Help desks, hotlines, cell phones, and pagers all help clients get in touch with you when they need something or have a question. “In this world, when people deal with urgency, the race belongs to the swift,” Riley says. “Whoever answers the phone first gets the work.”
Partnership: Sit on the same side of the table. Coming at problems and questions from the client’s perspective is essential, Riley says. Relationships with suppliers are also important.
Advice: Be truthful and thorough. “You’re the expert in the business and you have the answers,” Riley says. Giving clients sound advice and letting them know what good or bad results will occur from the choices they’re considering will help them feel more confident in their decisions.
“These four things are what a billion consumers said they want,” Riley says. “Is this customer service? No. There are elements of customer service in them, but these four things are what people expect. By just meeting these needs, all you’re doing is keeping people from complaining.”
Going beyond these four steps requires what Riley calls "the six Fs of off-the-chart customer service." These include being friendly, fast, flexible, focused, forward-thinking, and following through.
Additionally, Riley encouraged attendees to stay in touch with past clients should future referral opportunities arise. “If people can’t find you, how can they refer you?” she asked. In addition to personal contact, staying in touch could also come in the form of community involvement and volunteering, such as with Habitat for Humanity. Leveraging your expertise by holding educational seminars in the community is another way to keep your face and your company top-of-mind with potential clients.
“Put your fears aside and be professional,” Riley says. “Show up, be a pro and do the right things right. Some people fear the future and end up getting stuck in a rut. There’s often a gap between where we are and where we would like to be, and just making a 2% difference can close that gap.”