Most any entrepreneur whose heart is in the right place wants her business to come across as a family-friendly, valued part of the community. Actually projecting that image – and getting your business talked about among the local population as a great place to go– is another matter, though. Besides enacting family-friendly employee policies, which is a great place to start, make sure that everyone on staff, from the salesperson on the floor to the customer service representative online, can project that family-friendly atmosphere through how they conduct your business.
Remember the People
It’s too easy for a company to think of customers and purchases as statistics and data. Get more numbers in, a business might think, regardless of whether they’re repeat customers or first-time visitors. If you want your business to be family-friendly, you need everyone to put the data aside for a moment and focus on the individuals. Treat every customer like a member of the family. Be polite and helpful without coming on too strong.
For example, you might own a pet store company that offers memorial items for deceased pets as part of your product lineup. Customers who come in to order these items may be distraught and want to talk about their lost pets. Your employees need to show empathy and handle the transaction delicately. Make the customer feel like a human being more than a sale, and she’ll recommend your business to her friends and family.
Keep Kids Entertained
Depending on the scope of your business – you might not have a storefront, after all – offering something for kids to enjoy while in your store is a great way to project that family-friendly image. For example, if you primarily sell women’s clothes, a small play corner where kids can read or play with toys under the watchful eye of one of your staff can prove a huge relief to the children’s mother – and she’s likely to spend more time shopping.
If you don’t meet many customers in person, remember to do something for your customers with children, nephews, nieces and grandkids. You might offer a free children’s e-book download with every purchase, or simply remember to ask you’re most frequent customers how their families are every time you do business with them.
Focus on Customer Service
There’s nothing more likely to turn off a customer than bad customer service, not even a limited product selection or a delay in shipment. Customers want to know that they can reach someone at your company – not a robot – to discuss issues that arise. Train your staff, especially your managers, to deal with customer service issues with patience and politeness.
Whether you operate a store or a restaurant, a manufacturer or a service company, you’re going to interact with customers and potential investors alike. Training employees to operate with a family-friendly focus means that everyone at the company will be doing his part to get your company’s policies across. Take action to promote a family-friendly atmosphere, and your company will become more than just a business with good intentions – you’ll become a good business.
About the Author: Bette Lopez is an entrepreneur from Idaho who runs her own small business. She admires the model of businessman William Lauder when it comes to family-friendly businesses.