Small business blog posts we liked this week

Happy Victoria Day long weekend to our fellow Canadians! We know your minds are turned to barbecues and beer, but why not take a moment to read some small business blog posts we thought you might find interesting? You never know – maybe some great business ideas will percolate while you’re relaxing this weekend!

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How to hang on to great employees

Now that you’ve hired your amazing employees, how are you going to keep them on board? After spending the time training and developing them, it’s not usually fun to lose them – and not fun for the employee either.

Here are some ways you can improve your employee retention:

  • Pay employees fairly, in line with similar jobs on the market.
  • Give bonuses or rewards in recognition of hard work.
  • Develop an employee handbook so everyone will have written records of company policies like employee benefits packages, employee responsibilities, safe working condition requirements and performance assessment information.
The best piece of advice from experienced entrepreneurs

Don’t you wish other entrepreneurs could give you advice on making employees happy? Today’s your lucky day! When we asked experienced entrepreneurs what their best piece of advice would be for budding entrepreneurs, many of them talked about performance assessments. That’s when you meet privately with each employee on a regular basis to discuss expectations and performance, discussing possible areas for additional training, development or rewards and recognition.

These private meetings are a great environment for open communication where you can listen to any concerns your employees may have. Make sure that your employees can approach you with concerns, ideas and questions. This is a great chance for you to be a good leader and make your employees truly happy.

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Customer service lessons learned from CBC’s Marketplace

Yesterday, CBC’s Marketplace aired an episode called “Canada’s Worst Customer Service: Store Edition.” The episode is geared towards large chains, but we strongly recommend that every entrepreneur brews a cup of coffee and takes some time to watch it. The episode is full of wonderful cautionary tales we can all use about how not to treat customers, and just how hard it is to get them back once they’re upset. I’ve highlighted a few of the main points I took away from the episode.  You can watch the full Marketplace customer service episode here.

  • Ensure all customers are at least acknowledged in stores. Your employees don’t have to be experts on every product you sell, but they should be willing to personally make sure the customer is taken care of – even if it is by a different employee. No customer should be told simply, “I don’t know.” They should be given options and advice.
  • Don’t fall under the misconception that no complaints = satisfied customers. In the video, we can see customers more willing to just walk out instead of complain. And you can be sure their friends would have heard all about their poor customer service experience if they’d gotten the chance to walk out.
  • If something does go awry and a customer is dissatisfied, don’t barrage them with self-promoting marketingspeak (especially if it’s about how important customer service is to your company – oh, the irony!). Just do whatever is necessary to make them feel like they’ve been heard and understood. Make it right for them.
  • Give all employees the power to take the right steps if a customer is unhappy. They may not be able to offer discounts or give gift cards, but they can certainly listen, empathize and then take the proper course of action. This could even be as simple as giving the customer contact info for a manager, or you. Simple as that!
  • Never forget that low prices aren’t the only factor that draws customers to do business with you. If your prices are great, but customers are given the runaround by employees or ignored, how often do you think they’ll return?
  • If your business does use social media, monitor it regularly. You never know who’s counting on your attention.

Did you watch the Marketplace customer service episode? What did you get out of it?

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