Last year I set out with a goal to eat better, get more exercise, and lose weight. I was really happy with how much I lost in the first four weeks, but then the dreaded plateau set in. As frustrating as it is, I learned that plateaus and dips are a natural part of losing weight.
Plateaus and dips are also a natural part of business and individual performance. Your team is working hard to improve their results. You’re making great progress, and then BAM. It stops. The dreaded plateau. Sometimes it’s not even a plateau, but your sales even dip.
Here are three things you can do when you, your business, and/or staff hit a performance plateau.
1. Change your routine. One reason you hit a weight loss plateau is because the body adapts to new eating and exercise routines. The changes you've made don't have as much impact as they did when you began.
The same is true with a staff. What once was new and different is now routine. Combat routine by switching things up. Change how you do Take Five (shift huddles) meetings. Focus on a different metric this week. Have a new game or competition. Do something to make this week different from last week.
2. Shift your focus to something new that will improve performance. A trainer will help you work through a plateau by making changes to your exercise program. He or she will probably target a different part of your body to focus on.
That same approach will work for you. If you've been focused on showing your customer additional items, shift the focus to reengaging customers. If you’ve been focusing on sharing more about the product, try improving getting customers in the dress room. (Or whatever is appropriate for your business.)
It doesn't mean you stop what's been helping your staff perform at a higher level. What you’re doing is adding new areas of focus to keep improving and growing your sales. You can always circle back around to whatever you were focused on.
3. Improve your accountability. Many weight loss plateaus aren't plateaus at all. They're really the result of people slowly slipping back into old eating habits. That's why I used an app to track everything I eat. Total accountability!
Your plateau could also be a sign of people slipping back into old habits. I don't know of an app for that, but I do know that having people track and/or report back on how they perform key expectations has a direct impact on results.
So let me ask, are you or your staff in a performance plateau? If so, consider applying these three tips to overcome it, or even if you simply want to jumpstart your sales and service results.
By the way, I hit the best plateau of all….my weight goal. I’m maintaining it by continuing to do these three things. They work if you do them.
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is a frontline leadership expert known for bring fresh approaches and powerful actionable ideas to clients and audiences around the world.
For over twenty-years Fleener has helped executives, owners, multi-unit managers, and frontline managers accelerate the impact they have on employees, the customer service experience, and results. Learn more at DougFleener.com
Thank you cards are still one of the most effective, and most affordable, marketing tools you have. They stand out even more with so most marketing materials going digital.
Think about it. How many emails did you get in the last two weeks? Okay, and how many handwritten thank you cards did you get? Point made!
The fact is nothing does a bette job of creating a future visit than demonstrating your appreciation for your customer’s last visit.
Unfortunately, thank you cards are also one of those activities that seem to fall off the radar when things get busy or the staff gets distracted.
Which is too bad, because every thank you card is an investment in creating a future sale. I know one retailer who believes each thank you card will create $120 in future sales. That's worth writing for!
Here are some tips for creating productive thank you cards that make a positive impact.
1. Give yourself a daily target of thank you cards to do. If you wrote just two a day and worked four days a week, you would send out 368 thank you cards over the course of a year. (I'm not including the holiday season in this count.)
If you use the thank you card value of $120, that could create $44,160 in additional annual sales. Of course, your number could be higher or lower, but any way you look at it, more thank you cards results in more sales.
2. Write legibly. The card doesn't have any value if the customer can't read your handwriting. Those with less than stellar handwriting will want to write more slowly and focus on making the card readable.
3. Put the date in the upper right hand corner. This demonstrates that you are sending the card in response to a recent purchase or visit.
4. Use the proper salutation. Keep them formal ( Dear Mrs. Johnson ) unless you have known the customer for a long time, and are already on first name basis with him/her.
5. Start with your appreciation. The first words of the first sentence should convey the message of the note. Thank you for... or I appreciate ...
6. Personalize each note. Don't generically thank the customer for his/her purchase or visit. Be specific about what he/she purchased, or the exact dates of when they visited.
7. Set up the next visit. Tell your customer you look forward to serving her again on her next visit. You might even reference showing her something that will go with the item she purchased. Make this brief so you don't overshadow the core message of thank you.
8. End with a second thank you. This way the start and the finish express your thanks. Thank you again....
So let me ask, how well is your store effectively using thank you cards? What will you do to increase and/or improve your customer thank you cards? Remember, each one is an investment in keeping your customers and creating future sales.