A Good First Impression Costs Nothing, but Pays Off Big

It’s always wise to take time to see your business through your customer’s eyes. Every day you observe opportunities for business improvement within your company. It may be time to focus additional attention on what your customers (and potential customers) see and hear.

Are your customers really being greeted properly when they call your company? Perhaps your employees need additional training in professional telephone skills. Employees don’t know how they sound. Even if they are proficient in how to look up equipment availability and can dispense rental rate information, they may be unskilled in the extremely important “first impression” portion of the task. Are they, for example, smiling when they first answer each call when identifying the business and their name? You know that customers and potential customers are more likely to do business with rental companies that do so. But, do your employees know this and are they smiling every time? Do they sound genuinely friendly even on hectic days?

Over-the-phone first impression training should include far more than smiling. They should be trained in the use of questioning, respect, timing, conversation tempo and other seemingly unimportant details that are all part of professional “first impression” training. Not only are callers more likely to rent from your rental business when they receive this treatment, they are more likely to rent additional items when these items are recommended.

Of course, the exterior and interior appearance of the facility itself plays an important role in “first impressions.” A clean, fresh look is a worthwhile investment of time and money. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out ways for the exterior of the building and the yard to have the professional “come on in” visual appeal you seek. Also, having an open house, customer appreciation or other type of event at your store are good ways to focus employees’ attention on getting ready for the guests that will be arriving.

Your delivery vehicles might also need “first impression” attention. Vehicles should, of course, be clean and professional looking at all time. Set up a system to ensure they are washed regularly. (Also, of course, the rental equipment itself needs to be clean and professional as well.)

Another area that is extremely important is the first impression that walk-in customers receive. Are your employees greeting them in an upbeat fashion as soon as they see them? It’s amazing how many times I’ve observed employees not even saying “Hi” to customers who they are about to help with the loading of rental equipment.

Also, are your employees greeting customers with a smile? Remind your team that smiling is more than just a telephone customer skill. Walk-in customers (as well as customers who are receiving delivered rental equipment) prefer to rent from rental companies that have friendly, smiling employees. Your employees might believe they’re being pleasant to customers, but some could be lacking this skill.

All employees have heard the words “first impressions are important.” But how many employees really know what to do and are actively practicing the art and science of maximizing the customer’s first impression experience? Often employees are simply not observed closely enough. They might not be giving your customers the super professional first impression treatment that you know would be highly effective in growing your company.

Remember, there are many opportunities to enhance first impressions. It certainly is easy to overlook this critically important subject in the often hectic day-to-day operation of a rental business. These seemingly little details are important. Training employees to master “first impression” skills is certainly worth the investment.

For more about first impressions, refer to Dick’s book, “A Practical Guide to Working in an Equipment Rental Business – 8 Edition.” Copies can be ordered through Dick’s website at www.detmerconsulting.com.

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