If you want a more loyal customer base, treat your employees better. It’s simple as that. Many business owners think the customers are their greatest asset, but the truth is your employees are your best asset in any endeavor.
Your employees are your greatest cheerleaders or your greatest detractors. They’re in the trenches for you each and every day. If they feel valued, trusted and that they are contributing personally to your business, they’re going to eagerly tell all their friends and family, even total strangers. But, if they feel used, put upon, ignored or not trusted by the company leadership, they’re going to hate coming to work every day, their production will be down, and they’re aren’t going to tell their friends, family and perfect strangers about where they work. Or if they do, it’s not going to be flattering.
When a company loses a valued employee, especially a high-placed employee such as in management, the cost of replacing such a person will be from 70 to 200 percent of that employee’s annual salary. Not only that, but when they leave, all their institutional knowledge and memory/history goes with them. And you have to find a way to recover that information in the ones who remain. And if some customers follow that employee to the new job, the company loses revenue.
In the world of retail, the average turnover in stores dances between 40 to 60 percent per year. That’s crazy. The costs of constantly retraining new employees combined with the costs of the mistakes they make that result in markdowns and damaged products, are unacceptable.
If the Golden Rule of business is the “Customer is always right,” the Platinum Rule of business is “Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your best customer.” Simply put, the better you treat your employees, the better they’ll treat your customers.
The most obvious question is, how do you treat your employees better?
Even the lowest man on the totem pole may have great ideas that are worth considering. The most successful people surround themselves with people smarter than they are, and listen to them, consider their opinions, and if they’re valid, the follow them. That applies here as well — you like to be listened to and understood. So do your employees.
Invest in your people
Invest in educating your employees in the skills and talents of their jobs. But also encourage their life skills improvements. Visible Changes, a successful chain of salons in Texas, created Visible Changes University to help their stylists in life skills. They also require their stylists to read the newspapers and at least one book a month, creating a better-rounded, and talented staff. In years past, Disney required their executives to read one book a month, to stimulate creativity and search for material.
Trust your people
Especially trust those people in management positions. They got to that position based not just on ability but judgment as well. If you trusted them enough to hire them, trust them to make good judgments as they continue down the road you’ve put them on.
Make coming to work fun
It doesn’t have to be a circus, but if your people know coming to work is exciting and fun, they’ll be there on time, and not begrudge the times they have to stay late. Things like company picnics and company Christmas parties help boost the morale, and lighten the load. In retail, a Christmas party — off site — during the most insane part of the year, lessens the stress and lightens the mood, and creates more relaxed employees. If you’re looking at these things only as a cost to be endured, then you’re missing the point. These have financial benefits in the long run.
Recognize your employees often, regularly, and publicly
It’s one thing to slip $200 into a paycheck, but it’s more efficient to do it in a public setting and tell everyone why. You call Jack up in front of his co-workers — say at the company Christmas party — and tell everyone you’re giving him a bonus of $200, Jack is happy his work has been rewarded and recognized. And your other employees see that and think, I can do what he did. Jack works harder because he was recognized for his contributions, and the others work harder to get the same recognition. The math is easy and simple.
Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your best customer and it will always come back to you in good ways.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com/g/nelen