Bringing Professionalism to Your Small Business
I know it's your studio and that most of the time you are editing and probably the only one around. But that doesn't change the fact that you are also a business owner. You never know when someone might stop by or the phone might ring. Are you ready for either? Whether you are in a retail location or working from a home office or your bedroom, you should always be a professional, ready to greet the public.
First of all, what is professionalism? To me it means that you are always dressed appropriately for your work and well groomed. Your speech and grammar are correct. You are confident and have a complete knowledge of your products and services. You take responsibility for your mistakes and work to correct them. People can count on your to do the right thing and can trust you to deliver amazing service each and every time. So now that we know what professionalism is, let's explore some of the reasons why professionalism is so important.
1. Image. You represent your business. What impression do you want to make? Do you really want to greet the UPS guy at the door in your pajamas? Of course not. What self-respecting UPS guy would ever come to you for photographs after seeing that on a regular basis? I spent a lot of days in my studio when I knew there were no sessions scheduled. Until the day I had a potential new client walk in the door and catch me in my yoga pants and the oversized stained and really nasty t-shirt I usually reserved for painting in. She loved my work that was displayed in my adorable studio but must have been less-than-impressed with me as I never heard from her again. After that I was never in my studio again without being dressed for a consultation. You probably wouldn't walk into someone else's business all disheveled. Don't walk into yours that way.
2. Productivity. Let's face it, how much more likely are you to take a nap in the middle of the day if you are already in your PJ's? Even if you work at home it is important to set hours for yourself. It's also important to get ready for your day, get dressed, make your bed, and brush your teeth. Fix your hair and put on a smile. How much do I sound like your mom right now? Well your mom knew what she was talking about! I'll wait while you call her and tell her that.....It has been proven that we are most productive in the mornings. Take advantage of that time to do your best work. Treat your business like a business. Be on time and ready to work. Even if it's just getting from the kitchen to the office, but especially if you have a retail location. Your best customer may have come and gone while you were putting around the house.
3. Client Relationships. Always be quick to greet your clients or anyone else who walks through your studio door. This Includes the UPS guy! Don't let more than 10-15 seconds go by before acknowledging them. Offer them a smile and speak in a pleasant tone. This will set the stage for a successful transaction. Take care of their needs, be it a session, consultation, package delivery, or inquiry. Offer any further assistance that they may need or want. Thank them for their business and invite them back. And use their name as much as possible. People respond well to the sound of their name. They like to know that you are paying attention to them.
It probably seems like common sense to most of you but I think from time to time we can all benefit from a reminder. It's easy to get lazy when you are working alone. Just remember, you never know when that golden client is going to come knocking. Always be ready!