Outside of staffing, 27% of this year’s respondents report escalating costs is their second greatest challenge.
Have you ever called a company and known that the person on the other end of the phone was the owner of the company? He was happy that you called. He thanked you. He answered all of your questions and anticipated some that you hadn't thought of. His price was a little higher than others that you had spoken to but you were sure that he knew what he was doing because he was so confident in his product or service. Only an owner of a company could sell his service so well.
Imagine a company where everyone who answers the phone has these abilities. They connect with every person who calls and the close ratio on incoming inquires is tremendous. These employees have an owner's mentality. They get "it." They are empowered to make the sale and understand that it isn't about cutting the price but about differentiating the experience.
Here’s how to create an owner's mentality in your frontline staff: Develop your staff to be constant closers.
Lead by example. Have an owner mentality not an employee mentality yourself and make sure your staff sees and hears it. Owners know that their business can only survive if customers are calling them and booking business. Owners know that every call is a potential sale and you only get one chance at a first impression. Answer your phones the way you want to have your front line staff answer them. Thank the client for calling and ask their name. Engage them and connect with your client. Do all of this in front of your staff. Show them what you expect. Model the behavior you want them to demonstrate.
Live and breathe your brand. Create your brand and your message and stick to it. Your brand is the personality of your company. Who is ABC Limousine? What is your mission statement? Do you live and breathe it in your organization? If your company is going through an identity crisis, how do you expect your staff to be able to sell your services? Try this: "We provide safe, luxury transportation service in late model vehicles. Our goal is to exceed our clients' expectations every time." It sounds fundamental, but think about the alternative: "We are the limo company that you call and negotiate pricing. The closer to the date of your event, the more likely you will get a better price if vehicles are available because we are desperate to get them out the door." This sounds funny but I believe that if you put a value to your service and teach that you are valuable to your staff, they will sell at your published rate. Discount through additional services rather than price. When your staff sees you doing this, it will reinforce that your brand is valuable and is a premium brand. Randi Busse, President of Workforce Development Group, Inc had a great example. She said that we buy cars because we need transportation. All cars transport us where we want to go, but some people will pay a premium to own a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus, etc. They see value in the brand. Create value in your brand, teach that value to your staff, and sell at premium. Another name for owner mentality is employee branding. Your staff will live and breathe the brand.
Start by hiring employees that already have an "owner mentality." This is often not the easiest thing to do. We have all hired people who during the interview process looked like stars but down the road they really fizzled. Look for people who are authentically personable. Understand that employees with an owner mentality are motivated differently than others. Look for people who are creative, ambitious, out of the box thinkers. These folks aren't always motivated by money. Praise goes a long way with them. Let them contribute to your success by being part of finding solutions for your organization. Employees who have an owner mentality want to feel that their input is important to the success and growth of the organization.
Identify weak links in your organization. Employee mentality and entitlement are not the same things. Employees who feel a sense of entitlement are motivated differently than those who have an owner mentality. I recently questioned an owner why he allowed a person answering the phone to answer it rudely when the rest of his staff had a polished, scripted demeanor. He told me that she had been with him for 10 years and was very loyal. She had been counseled many times but still hadn't "caught on." My answer to him was to warn her and then get rid of her if she didn't "catch on." An owner mentality does not mean that your staff can do what they want just because they have a sense of entitlement. Hire the right people and educate them on how you expect them to behave. If they can't get it, hire someone else who can. There are many people unemployed today. Take this opportunity to look for talented "owners" and bring them on board.
Break the mold. Empower your staff to act like owners. Often reservationists are told to get the client on and off the phone as quickly as possible. That goes against this type of selling. In order to "connect" with the client, the call becomes a bit chatty. Randi Busse suggests that the reservationist asks questions and engage the client in conversation. If the caller says that they are traveling to the airport for their honeymoon, the reservationist might ask where they are heading; if the reservationist has been there, he might suggest a favorite restaurant or tour. Don't rush them off the phone if they sound chatty because that chattiness is how they are connecting with the client. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. Make that connection with your customer and they will want to do business with you.
Customers make it about price. You make it about service. Every call is a potential sale. The best way to keep the phones ringing is to give clients a positive guest experience with every encounter they have with your organization. The positive guest experiences come from the employees. Teach them how to provide service. Teach them to connect with your clients. Randi Busse gives this suggestion of how to turn a price inquiry into a sale. "Let's go ahead and schedule the service. Assume the sale. When you connect with your potential client and make a powerful recommendation, the next logical step is to "Book the Business!" Owner mentality employees satisfy your customer's needs and create customer loyalty. Customers who don't get helped will become someone else's customers, Randi Busse says. I recently heard a small operator say that their biggest competitor for weddings is a big corporate provider, who a year ago never did a wedding. Business is down everywhere. Competitors are at our heels waiting to pounce. If your staff has an owner mentality, they understand this and fight to turn an inquiry into a sale. Arthur Messina, President of Create-A-Card, Inc. has an owner mentality minded staff. One employee, Marion Abrilz has been with Arthur for 11 years. Many customers forgo dealing with Arthur and deal directly with Marion because she has connected with them. Remember satisfaction is only as good as the next satisfying experience. According to Randi Busse, loyalty should be the ultimate goal because loyal clients are willing to pay a premium for an outstanding experience and they will tell others about it. Satisfying customers isn't enough anymore.
Do quality checks on how your staff is handling inquiries. Randi Busse suggests that you call your own company or have someone do it for you so that you can find out how your staff is handling your clients. Use these exercises as training sessions. She suggests recording the calls and playing them back for the employee as a means of coaching them on how you want them to behave.
Characteristics of employees with an owner's mentality:
• They treat the company's assets as their own.
• They act as though they are working on straight commission regardless of how they are getting paid.
• They take responsibility for problems and for their solution.
• They look for answers for problems rather than for blame.
• They think outside the box and are creative thinkers.
• They have a positive, glass is half full attitude.
• They are “go to” people on tough projects because they will work hard to make it successful.
• They get "it." They treat every customer, every interaction as if it is critical to the success of the organization, because it is.
Companies whose employees adopt an "owner mentality" often see better results across the board. Their clients like dealing with them. Their employees like coming to work. They enjoy a great work environment because people overall are happy and are not in fear of making the wrong decision. They understand why they do the things they do and the objectives of the company are clear. They know that taking care of their customers is THE reason they are there. When they are doing that, customers will come back, and they will tell others about your company as well. And isn't that what WE want?
Source: Linda Moore, LCT Magazine
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