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How to Be a Professional

Building a professional reputation is all in the details.

You recruit the most accomplished talent and make sure your best employees remain with your small business for years. Your store or office always appears meticulously clean, and you never run out of your most popular merchandise. According to online reviews, your customer service ranks higher than that of  your competitors.

After reviewing the results of your service business performance, you might be confident that customers perceive you as a professional. Ensure that’s the case by taking care of a few often-neglected responsibilities that don’t take much time to master.

Telephone etiquette

Whether you receive telephone calls via a personal or business line, you need to follow several time-tested protocols.

Never allow your small business telephone line to ring more than three times. After you or one of your employees answers the phone before the fourth ring, make sure to answer with a positive greeting that includes the name of the person answering the phone and the name of your small business. The disposition of the person answering the phone matters. Many small business consultants recommend that employees answering the phone smile, before picking up or clicking on a telephone.

Here are some more small business telephone etiquette tips:

  • Ask permission to place a customer on hold
  • Thank callers for waiting on hold
  • Hold the phone at least an inch from the mouth to ensure clarity
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Don’t interrupt callers
  • Always return phone calls within the period promised

Don't forget about your voicemail etiquette

You can’t always respond to phone calls. That’s one of the facts of life. The business phone rings as you wait on a customer and you barely miss taking the call, as the customer leaves your store.

So, how do you take care of missed phone calls? You create a professional voice message that clearly instructs the caller to leave a name and telephone number, and most importantly, the best time to reach them.

Your side of the voice message includes a friendly salutation that mentions your small business name and genuine apology for not being able to take the telephone call live. Far too many small businesses botch telephone voice messages by being too cute or abrupt with leaving a message.

Professional email correspondence

Sending professional emails is more about when you’re communicating. Before a job, you can email a reminder. After a job, you can send clients a follow-up email thanking them for their business and asking for feedback. (Jobber helps you automate both of these client communications.)

Make sure your business name is either the handle of your email address (e.g., [businessname]@gmail.com), or is reflected in your email domain (e.g., [yourname]@[businessname].com).

And don’t forget to include a professional email signature at the end of all your correspondence. A small but important detail when it comes to leaving a good impression.

The first time you meet a customer

Successful small business owners know how to develop a loyal customer base. They remember names and small bits of information that break down barriers and help create genuine personal relationships.

When it comes to greeting customers for the first time it all starts with a genuine smile and a confident posture that conveys warmth and professionalism. And never forget the power of a firm handshake.

If you’re meeting a new client before they book a job, ask the new customer if they have a specific service in mind that you can further explain. Many new customers simply want to acquaint themselves with the layout of your small business.

And if you’re meeting a new client for the first time at the job site, take a few minutes to meet them, review the work you’ll be doing, and understand if they have any concerns. Those few minutes might be the start of a long-lasting client relationship.

Being a professional isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s mostly about taking a few simple steps to develop genuine personal relationships. After all, running a small business is akin to living in a neighborhood. You want to make a positive first impression on your neighbors to develop long lasting relationships.

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