I received this timely reminder in my mailbox this morning. I’ve been feeling a little jaded lately and feel I haven’t had the “right” attitude toward each and every customer who comes through our door. This article reminded me that every customer is a gem for whom I should be grateful.
There are a lot of other helpful tips below, that can be applied to every business owner or manager. Please read on if you feel you’re due for a refresher.
Top Ten Business Tips for Techs
We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to business practices. Perhaps we’re great with the actual work itself, but the paperwork aspect suffers. Or perhaps we’re great with paperwork but our customer service leaves something to be desired. Then there are those who are organized and seem to have everything else going for them, but they can’t seem to streamline their work processes. Here are the top ten business tips for Techs to help stay on track with all aspects of the Tech industry.
Honesty is the most important quality your business needs to have. If people can’t trust your word, they won’t trust their computer with you. Being honest doesn’t just have to do with performing work you said you would perform, it has to do with accurate paperwork, accurate prices, and accurate specifications on your work, not only with the customer, but with your employer, your business partner, your staff, and your business associates. There’s no way like dishonesty to burn bridges faster than you can build them. To some, it may seem like you can cut corners and ‘massage the facts’ to turn a quick buck, but in the end, it will hurt your reputation and your business.
Integrity is part of being honest, but there’s more to it. When you perform work, do you perform it well? Do you give your best, or just half hearted effort? Integrity in your business will go a long way to improving your reputation in your business network. If you perform sloppy work, your referral rate will suffer, and repeat business may become nonexistent. As with honesty, it may seem efficient to cut a few corners and toss things together, but if the quality of the work doesn’t meet up to customer standards, they’ll look elsewhere for tech services.
3. Be Customer Oriented – A ‘People Person’
Decent respect for your clients is a must. Beyond that, being customer oriented, or being a ‘people person’ is another way to boost your business reputation. Mocking your clients behind their back may get a laugh or two, but if word gets back to that client about it, you can be sure you’ll hear about it, or they’ll just take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, reaching out to the client, showing real genuine interest, is a sure-fire way to gain some ground with your reputation. Which service provider would you rather use, the one who remembers your name and your occupation and inquires about you, or one who simply hands you a number and asks you to have a seat? There’s a famous saying, ‘The customer is always right’, and while literally that may not be the case all the time when it comes to tech experience, keeping that mindset will help your customer service aspect of the business to a great extent.
4. Be Reachable
If your clients can’t reach you, or every call simply goes to voicemail, and you don’t return calls right away, your business will suffer. Some use an answering service, or outsource their answering service to an experienced provider. Regardless of the method you use, be sure your clients can reach you at the times you promise to be available. Return phone calls and emails promptly. If you seem to have lost touch with a client, you need to find a balance between pestering them and letting them think you’ve forgotten about them. This will ensure you don’t lose business due to clients looking elsewhere because they simply can’t reach you.
5. Balanced Pricing
A very successful businessman I knew once laid out his pricing plans for me. There was much competition in his industry, and he devised a method of ensuring he had a decent income while making sure he didn’t take on too much work. While this may not work for everyone, it’s something that may be just what small businesses and sole proprietorships need. He priced his rates much lower than the competition. Eventually, as his workload grew, he began to raise his rates until he had just enough work to keep him busy and keep a decent flow of income going, without having to worry about turning business away because he couldn’t handle any more work. If his workload started to lessen, he would drop his rates again until his workload was balanced again, and then he would level off his prices at that rate again. Regardless of the method you use, balanced pricing can keep your workload steady while ensuring you’re not running around with no methods at all, trying to take care of business you can’t handle while doing shoddy rushed work in order to get to the next customer.
6. Keep Up With Tech
Do you subscribe to Tech RSS feeds? The face of the Tech industry is continually changing. New models and new features are brought out frequently, and with all the upgrades and updates, being a Tech means keeping on top of it. Balance is needed, of course. Spending 4 hours a day reading through RSS feeds will cut into your work schedule, so if you can thumb through and narrow your reading down to the essentials, focusing on your general area of expertise, it can help to keep you on top of things while not taking up too much of your time. For instance, if your clients are bringing in their Windows 8 machines already and you haven’t even had the time to toy around with the OS, you may need to take a step back and get back on top before moving forward.
7. Be Organized, and Delegate If You Can
Lack of organization is a pitfall you can avoid. Do you have a digital or paper organizer? If you have a digital organizer, whether it is your smartphone, your Palm device, or PC software, do you have a backup plan? You don’t want your data to be centralized in one device. If you lose that device or if something happens to it, you just lost your organization tool and all the data it held. Paper organizers are still a good choice. You don’t need to scramble for batteries or the charger to use one, and everyone still carries pens. However, some of us type incredibly faster than we can write, so digital organizers hold our attention more often than not as an easier way of entering data.
In the way of organization, being able to schedule appointments and keep everything orderly on a day to day basis will go a long ways towards making us effective Techs. Running from one task to another, helter skelter, is a good way to miss things, forget tools, and more often than not, we lose our heads, and things go downhill from there. The next day may consist of calling customers back, relocating our lost tools and supplies, and then ending the day with everything back in place, but we weren’t able to get to the day’s clients, so tomorrow will be worse. Organization can help us avoid all that, and keep us on a steady pace. Use checklists and calendars if it helps.
If you have business partners, employees, or staff, delegate tasks if you can. While you might not like to relinquish control over certain aspects of the work, if you have a qualified, experienced team that can handle it, delegating will free up your workload, and you might be amazed at the results. If you’re not sure you can delegate tasks, give it a trial run, or do some training so your team is up to the task. You won’t regret it.
8. Write It Down
Are you preparing to do web design and hosting for a client? Migration of data and programs? Virus removal? Write it down. This means preparing and serving contracts for the situations that require it, and preparing reports and checklists for other tasks that don’t require contracts. You don’t want to enter into the scenario of ‘we agreed it would be this much,’ and ‘no we didn’t, we agreed on this much’. If it’s in writing, you can save yourself from major headaches on a regular basis. If someone seems uneasy when you bring out the clipboard and paper, just emphasize that it’s just a written agreement so they have in writing what they’re expecting of you. It’s as much for their protection as it is yours.
As far as the day to day aspect of paperwork, our reliance on digital planners and gadgets may lead to using less of our brainpower as far as memory is concerned, and we might seem to be losing some of it due to lack of use, but you can improve that, by first writing it down, and refreshing your memory later.
9. Streamline Your Processes
We have an app for this, an app for that, a utility that does this, a utility that does that. If you don’t already have a USB Toolkit, start working on one. On a basic drive, you can get bootable repair operating systems for repair and malware removal, and still keep your treasure trove of handy apps and utilities for use outside of the bootable OS. If you offer specific services such as malware removal or computer cleanups, do you have a checklist process? Perhaps you can utilize utilities like D7 to better streamline your processes in one utility rather than using several each time you need to perform work on a machine. Streamlining will make your business much more effective.
10. Keep a Positive, Optimistic Outlook
I’m joking, right? How is this a business tip? A pessimistic, negative attitude leads to increased stress and tension, and that attitude is likely to lead to snapping at clients and customers, or at least being less friendly and personable. While Louie Armstrong sang about it, he wasn’t the first to come up with the idea. When you smile and manifest a positive outlook, it rubs off on your clients, and they’ll look forward to being around you, because you have that effect on them. Having a positive, optimistic outlook will help you avoid stress as well, and that will help you stay focused on your work rather than constantly worrying and second guessing yourself, which can hurt your efficiency.
In the end, how you implement these tips will affect how efficient your business is, the quality of your reputation, and your relationship with your clients, all major aspects that can ‘make or break’ you and your business.
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