The Small Business Employment Index indicated slight growth in February following a decline in January. With businesses slowly—but not quite consistently—on the rise, experts say it’s important now, more than ever, to be consistent in order to expand.
As president of the children’s hair salon franchise Pigtails & Crewcuts, I can tell you this for certain: consistency in business begets success. Business owners set expectations for their customers, and maintaining those standards is tantamount to business growth.
I’ve overseen the opening of more than 35 Pigtails & Crewcuts salons across the country, and I served as senior vice president of Heavenly Ham, where I consulted with hundreds of franchise owners and thousands of staff about the importance of consistency at the business’ 200-plus retail locations in the United States.
Here are seven areas where consistency is key to business success.
- Branding. Think about dominant global brands, such as Apple, Disney, McDonald’s and Google. These corporations are notoriously and obsessively consistent in their branding. One glimpse of an apple or the golden arches and the message is clear. Consistent branding sets the stage for a business’ message and imprint.
- Products and services. If a business owner operates more than one location, he or she should establish a consistent aesthetic. This sets the scene for consistent service. The customer is coming to a business for a very particular reason, with very distinct expectations. Whether that business specializes in hair cuts, shoe sales, IT services or other areas, the goal should be the same: exceed those expectations. Business owners and managers should know their inventory and business flow. Tracking data and preparing accordingly can do wonders to improve consistency in business.
- Customer service. Never underestimate the power of consistently good customer service. Today, one negative experience can end up on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or any number of websites and quickly escalate. Business owners should commit to providing cheerful, attentive customer service, and if a problem does arise, confront it immediately. It’s far easier to keep current customers than to find new ones.
- Employee relations. The staff of a business is generally the face of that business. It’s important for business owners to communicate their expectations to staff so that they’re aware of benchmarks and can work towards them. If someone performs well, an owner shouldn’t be stingy on the praise and promotions. Replacing workers is far more expensive than keeping them. A recent report by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UC, Berkley, states that employee turnover can cost 150 percent of the salary of the lost employee.
- Social media/marketing. Social media allows a business to be a part of the conversation with current and future customers. That can be a blessing and a curse. The tone of tweets and status updates should be consistent with the business’ brand. Avoid the obvious risky topics—political, religious, anything controversial—and stay on message. Likewise, try and be consistent with the frequency of updates. This will depend on the nature of your business and the activity level of your audience.
- Community involvement. Business owners should pick a cause that they’re passionate about, and that fits the tone of the business (a children’s salon and a children’s charity, for example), and get involved on a business level. Donate services, products or time. It’s a way of giving back, while also keeping the business’ name in circulation.
- Business growth. Make a business plan for growth and stick to it. Considering expanding or opening a new location? Much of the groundwork has been done through the original business, such as carrying out the branding and outreach. Now, with a little more work and a lot more consistency, a business owner can continue building on that momentum.
Wade Brannon is the president of Pigtails & Crewcuts, based in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more go to www.pigtailsandcrewcutsfranchise.com.