Your Customer Experience

I have been a business owner for 8 years. In all that time I have been through what you can say a roller coaster ride in managing my business. But I am also largely a consumer. And in both of my roles as owner and customer, one very important thing that I can relate to the success and growth of any business is the customer sensory experience. What do customers experience when they walk into your facility or when they engage with you?

I want to share 2 instances which has stuck to my mind as a customer. I was at my gym for a workout when I used their bathroom and found out that unfortunately their toilets weren’t clean. I came back 2 days after, only to find that exact same dirt lying there on their toilet. My otherwise good impression of their facility turned into disappointment and disgust because of that. And now something that I probably wouldn’t have remembered from that first experience has now stuck with me. Another instance was when I move into a new town and shopped at Price Chopper. The cashier generously offered to take my purchase out to my car. At first I thought it was just because of the oncoming blizzard but then after so many visits to their store, I realized that their employees were just genuinely really helpful to customers. I’ve had little old ladies offer to help me and my athletic and very capable family bring the bags out to the car. Both experiences had a profound impact on me as a business owner.

Your store is not just a sales channel. It is the physical manifestation of your brand so when customers enter your store, the kind of service you give them is important because it affects how they see your brand. It is the place where they engage all their senses so you must also provide a worthwhile experience.

The first thing customers notice when they enter is the smell. Now I own a Martial Arts School so people are barefoot and sweaty feet can give off an unpleasant smell. Which is why at our facilities we keep the place insanely clean with bleach cleaners to kill the germs. We also make use of candles with cinnamon scents that cuts through the smell. There are certain fragrances that would attract customers into a store and if you notice, most successful brands have a distinct smell. Its also very important that you and your staff have a pleasant odor especially for us since Martial Arts is a contact sport. Nothing will turn a customer off more than bad hygiene.

The next is the sense of sound. What sounds are affecting their experience? For a business like ours, we need to have that high energy music to keep people motivated and pumped for the activity. Now every business requires a different kind of sound unique to them. You just have to match your product or service with the sound atmosphere in your store.

The third thing is the sense of sight. Is your location aesthetically pleasing? Do you have good lighting? Is the place clean and is the display in an orderly manner? Now whether you are a business owner, a manager or an employee , you have to pay attention to little details. No dust or dirt is insignificant not to be noticed by your customers. You and your staff’s appearance also matters a lot because you represent your brand. Do you want your brand to be sloppy and messy? Or do you want it to be pleasing, clean and professional?

Now the sense of taste doesn’t really apply to our industry but if you own a restaurant or a coffee shop you wanna make sure the taste matches the overall experience. For the sense of touch, we make sure to wipe down the mats because we don’t want anyone walking barefoot and touching someone else’s sweat puddle. That’s nasty. Nobody wants that. We want to be able to provide a space where our customers can be comfortable to do their activities.

One thing I always say to my team is that they should be a thermostat, not a thermometer. You are setting the pace. When someone walks in to your business regardless of your industry you are setting their emotional experience. This may not be a sense per se but it is very important because the level of emotional response is gonna vary per industry. For us we want to provide their happy place where they are excited to go. We want to motivate them. We want to know everyone by name. Don’t make them feel that it is just another transaction. You should make your customers want to come back.

Insta – Easy 7 Tips for a Powerful Instagram Presence

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So you already have your Instagram account , the next step is to learn to use it to your full advantage. The app is slowly starting to improve making it more business friendly but since its consumption based, you still have to work at it to get people to go to your account. Here are some tips on how to make this app work for your brand.

Tip 1. Make your Account Public

If you have something private to say, text it, don’t post it on Instagram. Don’t put a barrier between you and your audience. For someone who wants to build their brand in the community you have to be out in the community.You cant breathe you story into other people if you’re private.

Tip 2. Don’t post the same content in Instagram and Facebook

Instagram has this feature where you can connect it to your Facebook and your photos can be instantly posted on Facebook as well. Do not duplicate your content. You want to have people follow you on each platform you’re on and if you’re content is always identical everywhere then they’re not gonna look for you anywhere else. So you want each one unique and make sure to speak to your audience that’s on there.

Tip 3. Schedule your posts.

You want to have 2 posts per day at minimum. One in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. You can use scheduling apps like hoot suite or you can save it in your Dropbox folder and delegate posting to your team members.

Tip 4. Have your text ready

You can pre write your captions or descriptions and save them in your phone for easy copy and paste. You can also do this for your hashtags and save a lot of time from typing everything.

Tip 5 Use hashtags
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Hashtags help build your audience. Don’t use those that are too popular because yes, someone from the other side of the world might see you but as long as they don’t jump on a plane and enroll in your school then it won’t matter. I focus on the locals in our community which is why I use hashtags that are specific to our area. One hashtag that I use is #ShrewsburyMA and by doing that anyone who is interested in what’s happening in Shrewsbury and who probably lives within the area gets to see my post.

Tip 6 Build relationships

It is a social app so try to build relationships with your followers. Start a conversation with people you follow. Comment on their photos or reply to followers who comment on your posts. When you’re talking to someone they become more interested in you. You have to engage people.

Tip 7 Be Genuine

The most important tip is to be genuine. Yes there are a lot of successful brands but not lot of them really care about having an impact on their community. When you interact with your members, use it as a way to get to know them better. You don’t want any fake relationships.
Its not a popularity contest. The number of followers you have does not equal good relationships. So put in the work. Treating your members or followers well will bring you clients who will be loyal to your brand.

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6 Steps to Insta – Awesome Content

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform. Recently, brands have been using it to grow their business but since it is a consumption based platform, the users are not as guarded
when they see the ads. People tend to consume the content on instagram very much the way they would be flipping through a magazine which is a great benefit to those who are constantly utilizing this tool to get your brand down.

Here are some steps to starting your brand’s own instagram account.

Step 1. Determine how you want your brand to look like

Choose a name.You want a name that’s easy to find and specific to your brand. One tip of mine is to have separate accounts for your brand and your own personal account. Yes its necessary to have your personal account. I read in a great business article recently that if you own something, you should put your name in it. Think about how you want your brand to look like, what story you want to put out. People will learn about you from this format so think long term.

Step 2. Make your bio clear and specific

Your bio is your golden real estate. It should contain what they can expect from you and why they should follow you. It should be short, clear and to the point.

Step 3. Give them something to look at

When you create your account start off with 10 pictures right away because people will go to your account for the first time and you don’t want nothing there.

Step 4. Give them great content

You wanna give your audience great value. You wanna make them follow you, like you and engage with you so give them great content. Avoid filling it with a lot of sales pitches. Follow the 9 to 1 ratio. For every 9 jabs you throw there is that 1 cross. You want 9 gifts, 9 pieces of valuable information, 9 content based pieces before that 1 request to purchase or take action.

Step 5. Invest in good photos

It is after all a photo based app so invest in great photos. Good quality symmetrical photos with obvious centers are going to get better responses. Invest in a high quality phone. The amount of money you’ll save in the long run on marketing by having a good quality phone that very well projects your brand through imagery is just so valuable.

Step 6IMG_0460. Promote your account

Use your facebook, email, in school flyers to promote you’re instagram account. People need to know that you’re out there so they can follow you.

Once you’ve started on instagram it will be easy to get into the flow of things. It will be the best thing you’ve done to grow your brand!

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The Journey to Social Media

I’ve been in the Martial Arts business for a little over 20 years and it wasn’t an easy ride. Me and my husband were working for someone else when 8 years ago we finally decided to take the plunge and open our own school.

Every entrepreneurial venture is always a big risk. I remember having to take another job to supplement our income. When you start a business, a lot of the money goes into growing it and you’re barely breaking even. After 4 to 5 months of opening, I broke my arm and was out of work for 3 months. And after a year we lost our home to foreclosure. There was even a time when we had to pretend to be working late and would make the kids stay over at their grandparents’ house because we didn’t have heat in our own home. We even lived without electricity for a week because we couldn’t pay the bill.

We met a lot of challenges and adversities that we had to overcome in order to be successful. A lot of times its those adversities that we face that force us to step up and find different ways and that’s what happened with us.

Our first location was in a small rural farming community with less than 10,000 people. The nearest business was 3 to 4 miles away so we were really in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t get a lot of drive by traffic. In order to get people to our school, I would market the business everywhere nonstop- school talks, ad cards, new member parties, Free Pizza parties. We had to work with what little resources we had.

The wonderful thing is shortly after we opened, social media gained a lot more momentum. I devoted my time to learning how to use this platform to grow my school. When I started applying these social media techniques my business grossed from $12,000 to $ 35,000 a month and 70% of those new members came from social media campaigns.

When we opened our 2nd location, we were $ 55,000 over our construction budget because of all the road blocks we encountered from the town. My marketing budget was sacrificed and I had to rely heavily on social media. I’m happy to share that in the last year and a half since we opened, we have been grossing about $ 45,000 a month.

Social Media helped a great deal in securing clients and getting the word out about our school. Almost everyone and anyone I talk to will say at some point they saw us on Facebook. Business owners nowadays are lucky to have this tool at our disposal. I challenge everyone who is just starting out not to get discouraged if they encounter a roadblock. Always try to find another way to reach your goal. I could have easily given up but I chose to find an alternative to growing my business other than the traditional advertising. I utilized Social Media to help me grow my school.

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4 Way’s to Beat the Weather in Your Dojo

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I’ve learned that you can plan the most fantastic month for your school but you can’t plan the weather. For the last 6 years, we have been shut down by off season blizzard, record snowfall, ice storms and even tornadoes. Just last year we were closed for 11 business days in a 6 week period. I realized that I just can’t sit by and give up so I came up with my Beat the Winter Blues Plan. These are basically tips that any business owner can take to stay ahead of what Mother Nature throws at you.

First before making your plan, you should first know your numbers. What is you average in-house gross per day in a month? Which days of the week are you busiest? For my school I find that our gross income is very low on a Saturday so when we have to close on that day I know that I’m not going to lose that much business so I don’t have to overcompensate for it. However, if we do close on a peak day, then we have to earn back that gross income that we lost. That is why its important to prepare a plan for those days.

First off, you would want to take care of your current customers. You wanna keep them motivated because eventually some of them are gonna get frustrated when their missed classes keep piling up due to weather disturbances so you really have to engage them by communicating with them through your members’ Facebook group. What you can also do is to have a live online training session with them through periscope or Facebook live. Periscope is a live streaming app that you can just download on your phone. When deciding what to use between these 2, find out what social media channels your members tend to use. For me, I use both of these because Periscope helps me reach out to other people outside of my normal target audience whereas Facebook helps me connect with my current members and people who I’m already associated with. IMG_1687When you set this up you have to choose the location in your house well. It should be clean and well arranged. It should not also require a lot of room because this is after all a home session so you wanna make sure that your members will have enough space to execute the exercise at their homes. Identify who will run the class. Is it you or your head instructor? And then you wanna write a lesson plan that relates across the board to all your programs whether its for your Martial Arts students, or your Krav Maga students. This is good for your viewing ratings and interaction because they can all jump in on one video instead of having different videos for different programs. You also want to keep it to less than 30 minutes. You can have 10 minutes for introductions and engaging with them and the next 20 minutes for the exercises.At the end you can ask for feedback and also encourage them to share it to their friends.

The Next tip is to think about future members. How can you increase future membership even in times of weather disturbances? You need to have a new member’s special to bring people in. You can do 50% off your normal starter package. It creates a great call to action and a lot of urgency You can create ads using canva.com and post this on your school’s Facebook page. You have to create a separate ad for the different programs that you have because people won’t pay attention if you put too much information in one ad. You should also prepare this already even before snow day comes so its just a matter of posting and implementing it.

The third tip is to have a super savers special. If you have any events coming up, you can use that as an opportunity to cover the income that you lost. For example when we had a blizzard last year we were down by 2,000 dollars for our monthly gross. What I did was to run a summer camp special. I offered 99 dollars for a 10 week Kids’ Martial Arts summer camp for the first 10 buyers and 150 dollars for the 2nd 10 . This was a very good deal considering our regular fee was 229 dollars. Before dropping the price and giving discounts, make sure that you can still cover the costs because otherwise you will just owe more than you’re gonna get back. We made 2,000 dollars in 20 minutes after that deal was released. Its important to give a substantial amount of discount to excite your members, but not so much to devalue your program or seem desperate. Plus the added condition of it being available to the first 10 buyers gives them the sense of urgency to purchase it now.

You can also do a social media challenge. Challenge your members to make best version of their logo in the snow and post it in their social media account. The one with the most likes can get a cool price like a school sweatshirt or a private training session. Make sure to create a cool hashtag when you do this to make it easier to find. Doing these kinds of challenges creates a buzz on your business even on snow days.

Help your business survive anything when you have a plan in place like this.

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Revgear University Webinar: 3 Easy Steps to boost enrollment thru Social Media

Hosted by Paul Reavlin with guest speaker Alexandria Buzzell.
-Drive appointments to your door within minutes of posting!
-Get Referrals, Get New Students and More!
-Learn Alex’s Secret Sauce to Facebook Succes

Thanks to all that joined us the webinar last week hosted by Revgear.
For all those who missed it or would like to review it with their staff here is the link.

3 Easy Steps to Boost Enrollment through Social Media

Hopefully I will see you all this weekend at the Revgear University
When I share part 2 of this series.

Meeting The PTO

This is the time of year where everyone’s asking the question: what can I do to develop a better relationship with our PTO?

So first thing I wanna say that we have an outstanding relationship with our PTO, but over the years it has gone up and down. We have noticed that the better our relationship gets with the PTO, sometimes other schools in our area, our competitors kinda get a little upset and they’ll start complaining and whining and we have to redevelop that relationship again so the schools aren’t deciding who to support.
So we have found the most important key to building a great relationship with your PTO is to give, give, give, give. You want your school not to be known as the biggest and the best school in your community per se, but as a school that is willing to do whatever they can to help and support the community. You have to be the name that comes to mind when they’re thinking hey, who can help us out with this project? Who would be willing to be a resource? You don’t want to be the one that is always asking what they can do for you.
So the most important thing: whatever platform you use is you need to be the people that come to mind for giving and support. We’ve seen some great ideas about buying the PTO lunch, supporting one of the teachers in-house work days, or just buying baskets for school supplies. That’s one thing we’ll be working on with our school this year.For each of our students this year we will create a basket of school supplies for the classroom. It is definitely a challenge many school teachers are facing nowadays.

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So, one of the things that we are doing that is outrageously awesome is developing those relationships. This time of year we send out our PTO letters to all of our presidents of the PTO. In this letter it basically introduces us in the community, which most of them know, but it’s a reminder that we’re here and let them know that our goal is to partner with them to help better our community, and that we would like to use some of our resources to help them with their fundraising this year in any way that they can.

This letter lists some of the ideas on what we can do, we can donate karate gift baskets for their raffles, a lot of them do raffles or calendars to raise money throughout the year. We can donate gift certificates, we’ll come in and do a stranger danger or bully safety as part of an event they’re doing. We will come in and be entertainment for an open house. We also tell them with these events that we will donate fifty dollars off of every membership that comes to us because of this event. So it’s a win-win for them, it ads another level of entertainment, but also it helps us help the PTO. The schools are always looking for money, so any way that we can help out with that, definitely is a way to let the community know that we are all about them.

We also will teach gym classes for the schools, this is one of the communities favorites. Same thing, any enrollments we donate it back to the PTO. The biggest one is when we have open houses et cetera we’ll partner with the PTO, and for a set period of time anyone that registers for our six weeks for ninety nine dollars special, we’ll donate a hundred percent of that back to the PTO when they register as long as they mention it’s a PTO registration. So that’s great for the PTO because even if they only get ten kids to sign up for the PTO event, that’s a thousand dollars that we are giving right to the PTO, and that’s actually better than they do with many fundraising campaigns. is such a benefit.
We also do parents night out themes specifically for the PTO. So we have coming up next month one that we’ll be hosting here at our facility at a hundred percent of the proceeds will go back to the PTO. Again they’re gonna promote it, they’re gonna talk a lot about it in the schools, kids are gonna come, we’re gonna show them an outstanding amazing time, but more than anything we’re gonna help our school systems and be part of our community.

One of the other ways you can make relationships in the PTO besides just your letters that you mail to the PTO presidents is taking it to Facebook. Facebook is a wildly amazing resource when it comes to developing relationships and standing out in your community. First thing you wanna do is you can actually put in your own Facebook status That you are looking to partner up with any of the local PTOs. Let people know they can reach out to you or put you in touch with someone who can connect you with the right people.

booksTake it a step further you wanna start joining key groups in your community. Today when searching for Facebook groups with the name Shrewsbury in them (name of the town one of my locations is in) I came across one that was Shrewsbury PTO. I asked to join the group, and then went to the administrative part where it tells me the details of the group, found the administrator and then emailed her and introduced myself. Told her that my Shrewsbury school’s new, and that our goal is to give back, or to be part of our community, to help and support the PTO so that we can partner together to help our kids and our community as well with fundraising and other events. She emailed back within seconds, totally excited about the fact that we wanna partner up with her. Turns out she’s actually come and taken some of our classes at one point before, so she was already familiar with our brand name and the community. Her response wasn’t like who are you, why are you bothering me, which is one of the reasons why I am so big on first creating a personal then business brand, creating that brand really creates that top of the mind awareness.

So my assignment for you today is to take some time and search in that toolbar for groups in your community, and try to find the PTO Facebook groups. And message your administrator, introduce yourself, just let them know hey I’m here to help, how can I help? Not send people to me. And create those valuable relationships that will help you be an influencer in your community, and ultimately be the place that people wanna be.
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7 Days of Posts

So I have some amazing things going on in my school this week that I just have to share. I have a couple of locations with a  lot of amazing things going on, and it really does relate to what I’m gonna share with you today about branding yourself on Facebook.

I have been asked to be a guest speaker at part of two Ivy League college’s women entrepreneurship group, but it is actually a mix men and women who are looking to be entrepreneurs and open their own companies. Some of the people who have seen my stuff on Facebook are just really inspired by what I’m doing and they wanna share it. I am so honored, it’s fabulous.

And I have also been invited to be a speaker at a couple martial arts events over the next year to teach more about social media branding and marketing campaigns. So stay tuned, you’ll see where we’re gonna be, and get more information as that stuff comes up.

In previous post we talked about things you should do, about how to build your brand, who your audience is, we also talked about things you should not be doing. The nine things you cannot do, or you should not do on Facebook if you are looking to run a professional business, specifically in the martial arts industry is primarily what we’re talking about because that’s my key audience right now.

So, today we’re gonna talk about seven days of posts. What should you be posting on your Facebook page? This is probably the most common question I get “I just don’t know what to post”. People ask what do you say, how do you come up with the content, your stuff is always so amazing, where do you get your ideas? So I’m gonna kinda give you a little inside scoop to what goes on in here and how I come up with this stuff.
First off, we’re just gonna go through the seven days, alright? A basic outline of ideas to get you started on what to post on your social media sites.

foodSunday
When you’re posting on Sunday, that should be something personal, something fun. Most of us are not open on Sundays, or we take Sunday as our day of rest. Now if it’s not your day of rest or that’s not how your schedule goes then you’re gonna vary this based on that, but I think something personal and fun is important. It allows your followers to see that you are more than just hustle and bustle, but you take time for yourself and for your family.

If you are my friend on Facebook, which I really hope you are, you’ll see a lot of times on Sundays I will just post things that I’m doing with my family or time that I was spending at church. Things that we do fir family time,  even preparing for the week because that is a very important habit in my household, we take that couple hours on Sunday and plan out our meals for the week, plan our schedules, as a home schooling mom with owning five companies, I gotta stay on top of these things. I show that through my Facebook it’s some of my most popular content.

Monday
It’s motivational Monday. You want to come out of the gates strong with your Facebook followers. You wanna inspire the people around you – Mondays are often viewed as a negative day of the week. Be someone’s inspiration.

Now when I first started with my Facebook I really had no idea what to post, so I had this great book, I believe it was called Zig Ziglar’s Quotes. Another one is Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters, and he just has some of the most amazing quotes and stories, and I would just share excerpts from thatI would obviously give him credit, but then kind of share my take on it. You don’t just want to share a motivational quote, but how it applies. How you will take action on it.

Tuesday ,
is a great day to take action. What are you doing to take action towards your goals? Share some progress you have made or action steps you have in place. Post a picture of the work in progress!

Wednesday
I think is a great day to break up the monotony and try to find something funny or comical. Keep in mind that when you’re posting funny and comical, again, who your audience is.  Inappropriate content, things that are offensive or aggressive are not gonna draw people towards you. Even if they find it funny at the time it is gonna affect how they view you professionally. I always tell my instructors – if you can’t say it in the Little Dragons class – you shouldn’t say it on social media.

tbtThursday I’m sure you’ve seen it in your Facebook feed, Throwback Thursday #TBT People like it because they kinda get to see who you once were. Whether it’s your baby pictures or your high school pictures. I recently posted pictures of me and my husband while we were dating in high school, and I think we look exactly the same, but we were really surprised at how much our fashion tastes has changed since then. So that’s a great way for

Friday
Fired up Friday. Are you fired up all the time? Don’t you wanna pass that on to your members and to your audience and your potential clients? You are blessed to live your dream. You’re an entrepreneur, you’re an instructor, you own your own company, you’re blessed and that’s a cool thing. You shouldn’t make it sound like Monday through Thursday were the worst days of your life, and you’re, Friday’s really the only day of the week you love. You really wanna make sure your members know that every day you interact with them and taught them was a blessing. So your Friday post, although it can be centered about things that you have coming up for the weekend, or something you’ve been looking forward to, should in no way discredit all the awesomeness that has happened Monday through Thursday.

soc-media-iconsSaturday
For a lot of us our schedule allows for al little more personal time on Saturdays. If you’re still at a stage in your career where Saturday means you’re running birthday parties at the dojo, well then post about how much you love it. Because, don’t you? You wanna communicate that to your audience, you want them to see you as the passionate person you are. You want your brand to be the kind of brand that people start recognizing you for, and start connecting with you on that level.

So this is a great template to start that I used when I first started with my social media, my Facebook pages. I deviate a lot differently now because I really created a good following and a good brand, and how I utilize it’s very different. Keep in mind too that I do have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat that you don’t wanna post the same thing on every channel. Every channel should be different. So when I’m posting on my Facebook and what I’m posting on my Instagram and the Snapchats, they’re not the same. They may have a common theme because I’m the same person, but how I relate to each of my audiences is gonna be different, and you wanna keep that in mind as you’re creating your content.

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