Running a Small Business: 5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart
Business professionalism is about more than just a firm handshake. It’s an entire attitude around how you do business and how you present yourself. Being professional can mean the difference between customer loyalty and losing customers to a competitor.
There will always be competition that tries to undercut existing companies, but if your customers value your professionalism, they’ll be less inclined to take their chances on a brand new company.
Looking for a few ways to ensure your professionalism stands out? We’ve got you covered.
1. Answer the phone professionally
First impressions matter. For most home service businesses, the opportunity to make a first impression is when a customer phones your business.
A hurried hello lends a negative tone to the call. The caller feels like they’re imposing and is uncomfortable making their request. A clear greeting that states the business name and the speaker’s name establishes trust. It also puts the customer at ease by letting them know they’ve reached the right place, there’s a human on the other end of the line, and that human is happy to help them.
This goes beyond taping a script to the phone that reads, “Good morning, John’s Plumbing Services. This is John. How can I help you?”
How your representatives convey this greeting is important as well. In fact, smiling while you speak brings out the friendliness in your voice, so suggest this to your staff.
Need to brush up on this part of your business manners? Here’s a quick guide to proper telephone etiquette for your business.
2. Set up a professional voicemail message
Generally speaking, you should answer your business phone within the first three rings. But there will be times when you simply can’t do this; either because you’re busy or the phone call happens outside of business hours.
Have a professional voicemail for the times you can’t answer your customer’s phone call. Your professional voicemail message should include:
- Your business name and business hours
- An explanation of why the call went to voicemail. (Is the call outside of business hours? Are you currently on the other line? Include a general explanation)
- Set a timeframe of when your customer can expect a callback and stick to it
Once you’ve done this, playback your message to yourself and to other staff members to ensure it’s clear and you’re not speaking too quickly.
3. Draft an effective out-of-office message
If you’re closed or unavailable to answer emails on a particular day, set up an effective out-of-office email message.
A good out-of-office message accomplishes two things:
- It lets your customer know you’re not ignoring their message
- It reassures your customer that you’ll be back and on which date
A good out-of-office message looks like this:
Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office and will return on Thursday, July 27. If your email is an emergency, please contact Kelly Fuentes at 780-555-555.
Looking for the right out-of-office message for your business? Check out these out-of-office email tips and samples.
4. Have company branding on your quotes and invoices
Anytime your customers receive any communications from your business it is important to look professional. Consider putting your logo and company branding on all your quotes and invoices.
A professional looking quote with your company’s branding is an opportunity to set your business apart. With Jobber you can customize your quotes, or if you’re not a Jobber user, try our free quote template to help you get started.
Never sent a formal quote before? No problem. Here’s a breakdown of the quote process.
Free Quote Template
Fully customizable, automatically calculates, and is email friendly.Get The Template
The same concept of professionalism applies to your invoices. Add company branding to your invoices and your company will stand apart from the competition. Jobber users can customize invoices or if you’re not using Jobber, check out our free invoice template.
If you’re looking for some tips on invoicing, get started with the Jobber Academy article on mastering the art of invoicing.
5. Make follow-up emails a company practice
Completing a job may be the end of the contract, but it’s not the end of the relationship.
Recurring customers provide regular cash flow and make your business more sustainable. But turning a one-time customer into a long term customer takes some effort on your part. When you finish a job, practice the art of the follow-up email.
Your email should do one these three things:
- Let your customer know the work is complete, invite them to contact you if they have any questions, and thank them for their business
- Ask for feedback to provide you with insights you can’t glean from the business side of things
- Let customers know of other products and services they may be interested in
By being proactive with your follow up communicating, you can get client feedback, build your business relationships, and open the door to more business.
These follow-up email templates are a great place to start.
Professionalism is about making customers feel valued and important
All of your interactions with customers (or potential customers) should be friendly, helpful, and respectful. Show prospects you value their questions, demonstrate to clients that you hear their problems, and set your business up as a place of professionalism.