One of the main advantages of starting your own business is the ability to form close relationships with customers. Often business owners wear many different hats in those initial setup stages, ranging from manager to marketer and shop assistant. As the main point of interaction, it is unsurprising that for customers, business owners come to embody the company itself. The saying that ‘people buy people first, product second’ rings perfectly true for ‘brand you’ businesses, where the main selling point that keeps customers coming back is the sense of comfort, trust and consistency of service ensured by their personal connection with the business owner. However, as you expand your business, the need for the owner’s attention and presence will be required in multiple locations. To ensure your business plan remains sustainable and customer loyalty stays high, you will have to find ways to replicate the ‘you’ in a ‘brand you’ business and maintain consistency across the board. Here are my top three tips to help you maintain that delicate balance as you expand your business.
Set brand guidelines
The best way to ensure consistency for your customers is to have brand guidelines outlined for all of your staff and implemented throughout every store. Find out what it is that attracts people to your business initially and what keeps them coming back. The most successful and long standing customer-brand relationships are based on trust and as much as 64% of customers indicate they trust the brands which they share the same values. Make sure those values are clearly stated in your brand guidelines as the bedrock on which your company will grow.
It is also important to remember to keep the ‘you’ as part of your business as much as possible. As the main representative of your business, your personality may well have become equated with the tone of the brand and customers will expect to receive the same experience regardless of time and location. Whether you’re known for your tongue-in-cheek approach or you enjoy taking the time to chat to your customers, infuse your brand with those personality traits people have come to know and love, and make it a point that they remain visible throughout all customer interactions.
Invest in your staff
As you expand your business, the team you build is crucial for your success, so it is worthwhile spending time to get to know the people you are considering hiring. Customers will see them as an extension of yourself, so look for compatible personalities who will be able to live the values and persona of the brand.
Once you have the right people in place, it is imperative to make staff retention a priority. Regular conversations with your team will give you a better understanding of what staff want to get out of your company and how they see their careers developing. Whether it’s training, better facilities or remuneration, invest in the things your team values and create a space in which they can see themselves evolving in the future.
Use tech to your advantage
Having the right tech systems in place is a key part of the puzzle when working towards a successful brand expansion. It goes without saying that you cannot be in multiple places at the same time no matter the business demands. As such, you need to find the technology that will eliminate location and time constraints and help you manage your business in the most efficient and effective way possible.
A cloud-based solution is ideal when managing a dispersed workforce, as it keeps communication between business owner and staff open and up-to-date. Firstly, it allows all employees to access the latest information available and provide customers with a quick and informed service. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it allows business owners to access data and assess the status of their company in real time, providing them with the peace of mind that they are making the right business decisions.
When you begin to expand your business it is an exciting time, as you get to see your vision and hard work finally come to fruition. However, it is important not to forget your origins and personality in the transition. Make sure the ‘you’ remains an integral part of your brand and let your customers see those values and personality they love permeate every interaction they have with your business.
Dax Dasilva, Founder & CEO, Lightspeed