"Speech was given to the ordinary sort of men whereby to communicate their mind; but to wise men, whereby to conceal it."
--- Robert South
The young lady behind the counter at the fast food restaurant did not make eye contact with me as I placed my order. When she spoke, it was barely audible and I had to ask her to repeat herself several times. Finally, I gave up, left the restaurant and went home to eat.
My story is just one of many and I'm certain that you have them too. Stories of businesses that you refuse to frequent ever again because their "front people" simply turned you off with their lack of good communication skills.
"For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough."
--- Zig Ziglar
The front people are those folks who answer your phone, greet your customers at the counter, sell your products, and provide service for them. These are the people who you want trained to speak the Queens's English without fault. You want them to have excellent communication skills and to portray a professional image. They are your company to your customers.
"It is my custom to keep on talking until I get the audience cowed."
--- Mark Twain
The best way (and cheapest!) to train communications skills is to role play. You play the part of the customer and have your employee answer the phone, sell you a product, or demonstrate a sign. Whatever their role is, go over it with them again and again until you are completely satisfied that they represent you in the best possible light.
These practice sessions do not take that long and the training is usually fun for those involved. They will remember to smile, speak clearly, care about the customer, and represent the business well.
"To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art"
--- Chinese Proverb
While you are at it, make sure to communicate to your team that returning phone calls is just as important as closing a sale. It will make or break a sale. Too many today believe that it is not a priority to return calls.
I returned a call to a business that left me a message. I left a voice mail. When I called again, a few days later, to the receptionist I explained that my call had not been returned from so-and-so. The receptionist asked me, "How many messages did you leave?" Taken aback, I asked, "Well, how many does it take?"
"In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product and profits. Unless you've got a good team, you can't do much with the other two."
--- Lee Iacocca
If you want to invest more money into training your employees to communicate well, many junior college campuses offer communication courses. The investment is well worth it to see your team really shine in their customer relationships.
"A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it."
--- Scott Allen
The time that you save in re-doing orders, smoothing out customer complaints, and making up for lost productivity can be used for guiding your company to new heights. You will recoup profits that would have been lost due to poor communication skills.
Make it a priority today to improve your own communication skills and to training those around you to do the same.
"Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision"
--- Peter Drucker
Snapshot of the Sign Industry 3rd Quarter 2006
By Johnny Duncan
SignIndustry.com went looking at a handful of companies from various areas of the country as well as different segments of our industry to put our finger on the pulse and determine the state of the industry and where we are heading.
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Ink, Glorious Ink
By Jennifer LeClaire
You have two choices: buy cheap ink and yield cheap signs, or buy quality ink and yield quality signs. Find out why ink makes such a dramatic difference in large-format printing.
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A sign outside a furniture store in northern Virginia:
"ANTIQUE Tables Made Here Daily"
At an Assembly of God church in Waupun, WI: (sent in Carl Velzke from Vinyl Graphics, Oostburg, WI)
"Sign Broken: Message Inside"
Seen at a junkyard in North Carolina:
"Drive Reckless. It Helps Business!"
Have you seen any funny signs lately? Why not share them with the world? Send your comments, suggestions, and hysterical observations to: email@example.com.