How to make your business not suck- for free!

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Did you know that your company does not have to spend large amounts of money on restructuring or advertising to ensure repeat business? That’s right! All you and your employees (if you have any) need to do is involve your face in a simple act called smiling.

I know the word on the international streets is that Zambians are friendly and no one has experienced such hospitality before blah blah. But when it comes to business is this generally true? When you walk up to the counter in ShopRite do you feel warmth? Does that bus conductor on the chelstone-town route make you consider using this form of transport more often?  Speaking for myself the answer is no to both questions. Despite the rare occasions that I do experience unsolicited smiles the case more often than not is Zambian businesses just don’t smile. So, before I am viewed as some sort of freakish smile collector I will attempt to show you the value this simple act can have on your business.

But first some history…

The ancient art of smiling was invented about the same time as human faces and it has united man ever since.

The end…

Fast forward to present industrialised and technological times smart businesses everywhere else are thriving and growing on the premise of a smile.  Great examples of this phenomenon are Uber and AirBnB from the USA. You see, these success stories have understood that making your client happy and being happy doing it is the essence of any enterprise. Surprisingly, despite the clear evidence of the value of a pleasant customer experience many businesses ignore this. This then translates to those awkward conversations with your entrepreneur friend about how bad business is meanwhile you know that the chap is a Grinch. Well sally the secret lies under your nose, and it’s so apparent it hurts.

Why businesses don’t smile as much as they should

2015 has presented the country with an unprecedented array of socio- economic problems. Having constant electricity and water cuts is something that can surely drain the optimism even from Forrest Gump. In addition to this, the soccer situation is in oblivion and personally everybody but you is getting married. Generally, the situation seems very hopeless, and I’m sure some business owners agree that there is nothing to smile about right?

Wrong!

From my basic understanding of business the short definition implies that enterprises solve problems. Therefore, an environment rife with disadvantages is essentially one full of opportunity. Why then do we encounter businesses full of gloomy employees instead of enthusiastic people ready to remove the sadness from their client’s faces?  Perhaps we overlook the resources available to us because we concentrate on what the competitor has. In fact it seems that most businesses would rather imitate others instead of tightening their own operations; this is unhealthy and clearly expensive. I know your job is not to be my therapist but when I choose your product or service over many others do not make me regret the decision because of a lukewarm reception. In fact even if I do not purchase or hire your services make me feel like coming back when I am ready to.

Basically, this is the time for serious entrepreneurs to reinforce their customer service delivery. Your organisation needs to understand that you are creating relationships with the people you are serving. You are responding to a client’s needs beyond the direct benefit of whatever service or product you are providing. Your company is reiterating the correctness of my choice by smiling and generally being pleasant and because of this I will share this experience with my social circle and your business will benefit from this in one way or another. Don’t you want that?

You see Mr Entrepreneur; a simple smile has the potential to drastically change the dynamics of your business life. However, it is apparent that most Zambian companies lack a deliberate smile policy. I always get the feeling that most staff I have encountered are not drilled on the simple dynamics of a business transaction. What this transaction simply entails is said employee making money willingly leave my pocket. However with an understanding of how much competition exists these days a personal connection must be created as well. And this point is totally missed when I speak with a person with more frown syndrome than Robert Deniro.  

We are in such desperate times that I think Mubita Nawa must have a conference or something on the simple act of smiling. But before this happens here is a short treatise you can use immediately for your contemplation or indeed implementation.

How to smile

A smile is a very personal experience which stems from the crevices of our souls and seemingly cannot be conjured. In view of this, what I am advocating is not a variety of condescending facial positions meant to easily get through the day.  My appeal is that we genuinely feel pleased to interact with those who put food on our tables.  What a smile represents transcends the sphere of business and delves further into the existential realm.

Therefore, business owners must understand their employees and the driving forces behind their continued subjection to this cool servitude. We must understand from the get go that an employer should not consider financial incentives above all else. Clearly, looking at what thrusts your work force forward is highly advantageous as a smart company will thus be able to create an environment that is conducive.

Secondly, make sure your whole team is on-board as regards the mission of the organisation. With a proper understanding of why and what they are doing people can be very inventive and more often than not look out for the best interests of the company.

Also, business owners must lead by example. On some occasions I have witnessed the manager of a restaurant scold his staff in full view of their guests and quickly realise why I will not be coming back for overpriced spare ribs and chips. If you expect a happy environment create one and don’t expect people to use their willpower for some joy, this can be very tiring.

Another way people can smile is by just taking it easy. We all have problems, business owners, employees and clients alike.  However a provider of solutions bares a heavier burden as others pay you in order to rid themselves of some of these anxieties man inevitably experiences. So smile, be pleasant. The day will be over and you will have to do this again, don’t make a mountain out molehill.

In conclusion, businesses must return to humanity. Quarterly obligations and yearly targets may be important but let us not forget what we are doing this for above financial incentive. The overwhelming nature of reality can be harnessed as has been shown by people of note since time immemorial. If you embark on a mission to sell me local buns you are solving my problem of hunger despite the extra unwanted calories I might gain. In short what I am saying is just smile alright?! When I walk into your establishment, when we speak over the phone and when we share email correspondence-smile. It has been made abundantly clear how an upside down frown makes a huge difference. And if you do not see the benefits on your bank balance I trust you will definitely have one in your soul. Smile 🙂

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