Cumbria Family Business Awards

It's been a busy few weeks and I've been making the most of the brilliant networking events that have been playing out across the county. First up was the North West Hospitality and Business Show. This is a 2-day celebration of enterprise in the region and a chance to meet suppliers, clients, colleagues, new contacts and friends. Next, I joined the Pink Link Ladies International Women's Day event in Levens where I got to meet up and swap notes with an inspiring bunch of women, as well as listening to some great talks from business owners who are continually pushing the boundaries and flying the flag for female entrepreneurship. A quick step and a jump and it was over to the fantastic LA23Net event at Windermere School where we listened to an inspirational talk from Jonathan Warburton. Packed full of interesting insights he shared a story that truly resonated with me… but more on that later…

The last event I want to mention is the Cumbria Family Business Awards, the result of a collaboration between Cumbrian entrepreneurs Sue Howorth of The Family Business Network, Janett Walker and Sophia Newton of Flock and hosted by The Hairy Bikers. We were honoured to sponsor the entertainment at this year's event and spent the evening surrounded by fellow family businesses, all of whom are driven and passionate about the businesses they have built up. It's always a privilege to spend time with such business owners and I never fail to be captivated by some of their stories. Although they are from different sectors and backgrounds, when you look at the winners and finalists, they all have one thing in common. They are all focused on their vision and committed to delivering on their promise to customers. Both vital factors in the recipe for success. It made me think about our own purpose at Elton Business Support. What are we here for? Why did we set up? Quite simply, it's to help business achieve that vision and deliver on their customer promise. By providing insight, feedback and solutions we can identify areas of weakness, suggest areas for improvement and work alongside clients to implement training or finetune processes and procedures.

Pink Link Ladies International Womens Day - Photo credit Victoria Sedgwick

Many companies spend thousands, if not millions, on advertising their brand. They build up their image and carefully craft their message, luring in customers with the promise of the best product or the best service or the best price. Sound familiar? All of this is absolutely fine as long as when that customer decides to buy into the promise, its delivered right at the first point of contact; if it's not, all the investment, the money and the time has all been wasted. You've effectively pulled out the plug and it's gone down the drain.

As a business owner, you'll probably know your customer promise backwards, forwards and upside down. If you are like me, it will be stamped through you like a stick of rock. It will be the first thing you think about it when you sit down at your laptop and might be the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night (unless you've just watched a particularly good episode of Coldfeet). But your business isn't just you. Your brand and image have been 'gifted' to every member of your staff and they are holding it in their hands. When you think about your business you need to ask yourself: Are your team members delivering on your promise? Do they even know what your promise is?

Once you've taken that first step, there's lots more questions that need to be asked. Have you engaged with your teams recently, have you asked for their thoughts? And I don't just mean having a tattered "staff feedback book" in the staff room. I mean, have you really engaged? Have you gained their feedback? Have you spent time with them on the shop floor?

Whatever sector you're in, whatever size you are, it is so important to see your business from your clients' perspective. Sometimes this is better when it is anonymous which is why our mystery shopping service is so popular. It can help you identify whether your customer promise is being delivered by your staff. But if this vital part of the magic is not happening, you also need to know why. Here at Elton Business Support we like to follow up any mystery shop with some time spent with your team. By getting to know them and really talking to them we can find the answer as to why the promise is no longer being delivered.

Back to the story Jonathan Warburton talked about at the LA23 event. 

Jonathan Warburton: Photo credit Victoria Sedgwick

 JFK was visiting NASA and he came across a man mopping the floor. He asked, "What do you do here?" The cleaner's reply was, "I am helping put a man on the moon." The cleaner gave the answer that, as a business owner, you absolutely want to hear. He understood the vision; he understood the purpose. Unreservedly, he was delivering on the promise.

Whether your business is a hotel, restaurant, retailer, solicitors, bank, estate agents or opticians your teams and frontline staff are the bridge between your reputation and your clients. Involve your teams in your decision-making process and be brave enough to accept they may have far better ideas than you about how to engage with your customers.

Spending time and money on marketing your promise and your customer service pledge is only 50% of the pitch. If your promise isn't being delivered as soon as your customer arrives at your door, it's all an expensive and wasted effort. Engage with every member of your team, make sure they understand your promise and your vison. Only when they understand it and feel valued, can they deliver it.

Make sure the first time your customer engages with your business, it's not the last.

Incidentally, the Pink Link #IWD2019 event, the LA23Net event, the NW and Hospitality Business Show and the Cumbria Family Business Awards all delivered on their promise. I'm a happy customer and will certainly be back again next year…

Until next time…