One of the most effective tools for growing your business doesn’t cost a dime but it works with astounding results. It can be used by any retailer of any size who sells any given product. It works for anyone in just about any position including store management, retail owners, executives, and internal support managers.
Instead of me telling you about this tool, I’m going to have one of our readers do so with an email she sent last week. Here’s Patti from Canada:
This year we’ve had a lot of new customers that have been recommended by other people. We know because they walk in and tell us that so-and-so sent them to us. It made me wonder what was different from last year. I realized that what had changed is I had started complimenting my staff more than I had in the past. I see now that it made them feel appreciated and as a result we delivered a higher level of service and then they told more customers about us. And as result our sales have grown along with our customer count.
Patti discovered that the powerful tool that can help you grow your business is praise. Regularly recognizing your employee’s contributions, both big and small, can absolutely impact your bottom line. I’ve seen managers come into an existing store and grow sales five or ten percent just by doing what Patti did in her store.
I suspect that a lot of managers praise their staff less than they actually think they do. I know I personally thought I was pretty good at it until someone told me otherwise. I was pretty surprised by that feedback but because it was given by someone I respected and considered both a colleague and a friend I had to take it to heart.
Here are five important things to consider about using praise to grow your business.
1. Praise must be authentic. If you don’t mean what you say then odds are that the people you “praise” will see right through it. False praise is worse than no praise.
2. Recognizing someone for their contribution is not the same thing as thanking them for their contribution. One of the things I learned about myself is that I was pretty good at thanking people for their hard work and efforts and in some strange way I thought that was praise. It isn’t. Saying, “Hey Bob, thanks for taking care of that unhappy customer” is not the same as “Hey Bob, you did a great job of turning that unhappy customer into a happy one.” Obviously you thank someone as well as praise them but don’t confuse the two because they’re not the same.
3. Recognize both big and small contributions. I think a lot of us are probably pretty good at recognizing employees when they go above and beyond the call of duty but we probably miss those less obvious opportunities. I was in a store one day and a customer walked in and asked for a $3,000 stereo. The employee went to the back, got the product, brought it to the counter, rang it up and delivered it to the customer’s car.
Ten minutes later another customer walked in looking for a specific product. Instead of telling the customer the product wasn’t in stock the same salesperson made a call to another store and tracked down the item the customer wanted.
Guess which customer interaction the manager praised the employee for? I hope you picked the second one. While I think many managers would have mistakenly praised the employee for making a big sale, the manager of this store was very skilled at recognizing when her employees did something well; she praised the employee for giving the second customer a great experience. Okay, maybe she praised for both of them but you get the picture.
4. Don’t over praise. We all know that if you over praise the recognition will eventually mean nothing to your staff. As long as you keep your praise authentic this is less likely to happen. Even so, when in doubt, over praise. Believe me, if your team had to pick from hearing praise once a day or once a year, they’ll take the daily praise.
5. If praising people doesn’t come naturally to you consider giving yourself a praise quota. I know that sounds silly but I know from experience that it works. After being told I didn’t praise my team enough I told myself that I would make at least one statement of praise every day. It was more of a reminder than a true quota, but it worked.
So let me ask, how much are you using POP – the Power of Praise – to grow your business? It worked for Patti and it can work for you too.