Monday, March 2, 2015

Check your operation

      Free daily tips, information, advice, and ideas
      to help you better manage your small business. 

     Your business can benefit from doing a little test. If you have employees, have a friend call your business and report back to you on how callers are treated. Or have the friend make an appointment or come into your shop to browse. 

     Businesses big and small use mystery shoppers to check up on operations. How was the phone answered? Was the employee knowledgeable? Was it a good experience? Are employees dropping the ball?

     By doing this little check-up, you can make improvements in your relationships with employees, with customers and with the general public. The feedback can be eye-opening. 

     I am not suggesting that your hire a professional mystery shopper--it can be costly. Useful results can be obtained by using a trusted friend. 

     Example: Peg runs a hair salon. She checked up on her receptionist by having three friends call and report back to her. Peg wanted to know how quickly her receptionist answered the phone, how well she answered callers' concerns and questions, and how well she did when suggesting products and services to new callers. Two of Peg's three friends reported back that everything went well, questions were answered cheerfully, many questions were fielded and the receptionist was very knowledgeable about services. The third friend reported that the receptionist said she was very busy and couldn't go into detail about products available. Using this input, Peg made one change. All questions about products were to be referred to her personally, since the receptionist simply didn't know product details--and could not be expected to be familiar with various products. Things began to run more smoothly.

     Example: Joe runs a small restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Joe is always on site for dinner, but not earlier in the day. He made arrangements for several friends to report back to him after having breakfast and lunch. Everyone gave lunch a good report, but just about everyone who had breakfast were not happy. The omelet was runny, the sausages were cold, and the bacon was burned. Joe replaced the morning cook.

     Example: Gene is a busy chiropractor. He has a receptionist who handles appointments and other duties. It's just the two of them. He asked friends to call and report back to him. They were instructed to ask about shoulder/leg/back pains and how these might be addressed by chiropractic, together with questions about charges, evening appointments, and more. All reported back positive results. Gene took his receptionist out to dinner, something he had neglected doing in the past. 

     Sometimes, a little mystery shopping can ferret out a problem or an under performing employee. Other times, it can confirm that you have a smoothly running operation. 

     Checking up on your business can help you run a better operation, improve the customer/client relationship, and guard your reputation in the community you serve. A little mystery shopping can be easy and inexpensive. 

     Mystery shopping helps you get an honest opinion from a disinterested party. It can point to improvements to your operation that you might not otherwise see.