In last month's article we focused on getting prospective customers in through your door, and encouraging them to call and email you. But that is just the beginning. If you don't have your sales part in place you are wasting your hard earned dollars! If you leave your front desk staff to their own devices then you are making a big mistake. They must be trained in SELLING! This is such a big key to the growth of your business that it really can be the difference between having a great season or a subpar one.

Here is something I would like for you to consider:

Sales: Your Front Desk Staff Are Your Studio Ambassadors!

  1. Answering the phone: Whoever is answering the phone is the voice of your business. Remember that when a prospective customer calls they will make an assumption about you and your studio depending on how that call went. Is the person answering the phone friendly? Do they ask the right questions? Do they have an inviting voice? If you are unsure, try to get someone that you know to call the studio and ask questions. The person must be willing to give you a true report as to whether or not their experience during the call was a positive one. I like to give our front desk employees a soft script to follow. When I say soft they don't have to follow it verbatim but I want them to have an outline of how to ask the right questions to any prospective customer and also to understand the importance of listening to what the customer is looking for whether they call or come in to the studio. The main goal being that whether they email or call that they will end up wanting to come in to the studio. Also how to handle customer issues that may come up during the year like an unhappy parent or student as well as all the other possible problems that could arise. If you do nothing else, create a simple front desk manual and train your employees on how to sell. Who knows better than you how to sell your great classes and all of the benefits of your studio's training?

  2. Face to face selling: Just as the person answering the phone is the voice of your business, the person behind the front desk is the face of your business. In many cases this will be the same person but face to face selling is very different than over the phone. The perspective customer will make assumptions not just on the words spoken but on appearance, interested expressions, and body language. I remember going into a local florist many years ago and I instantly had a bad feeling about the person behind the counter. They were disinterested and their expression was as if I was bothering them. As I was leaving I met the owner coming in the door, he was a wonderful person and took the time to talk to me and get to know me. Little did the employee behind the desk know that I was about to order over $3000 worth of flowers. I was ready to take my business elsewhere but I stayed because of the owner. I also mentioned to him months later that the employee was not very inviting to new customers and he thanked me for giving him the feedback. That employee is now long gone and the florist is doing a booming business. And yes, we are still a customer of his for over 10 years now sending in big orders twice a year! Once again, training your front desk person how to sell in person is HUGE!

  3. Upsell and cross sell to new and current customers: This goes hand in hand with the first two topics. Now is a great time to upsell and cross sell to your current customers. Here is how to do it. Send an email out to your current customers informing them that it is not too late to add additional classes. As you may know, student's schedules change as the month's progress. A day that didn't work in August may work now. Think about when you are contacted by a business you enjoy frequenting. If they have a special offer or are just letting you know about some event they are having you like getting those emails. Well your customers love hearing about special offers from you and they love the fact that you are thinking about them! Try This: Contact your customers each week this month to offer them a free trial week of classes, space permitting. Cross selling is getting your jazz only students to take ballet, tap, modern and anything else you offer. Upselling is getting them to take unlimited classes or be a part of your competition team or company.

  4. Make it easy for people to register: This may seem like a no brainer but I am surprised how many studios do not accept credit card payments. Make it easy for people to register…in other words pay you! The more options you can give the better. However I do not recommend that you send out invoices and wait for checks to arrive in the mail. If you offer a payment plan make it so that you accept credit card payments only. This way you control the cash flow and how your customers pay you. You can offer different dates for the payment to be processed but waiting for checks to come in the mail is not the way to go in this day and age

  5. Follow up: Ok so the people who came in didn't register for classes. Now it is up to you to keep touching base with them to let them know all of the great things your studio is doing and that you welcome them to come in at any time. A study was done some years ago by the small business administration in the USA and they found that 79% of leads are never followed up on? They also found that many prospective clients for small businesses agree that if there was a compelling offer, special or incentive that they would most likely try a competing business to the one they are using. Let that sink in for a while. So dust off those old phone messages and emails to offer them to come in for a free week of classes. The best part is that you can reach this list at little or no cost to you!

So that's it! Get your sales force in order and start to increase you bottom line. If you are a one women or man show consider ways to improve your sales pitch. You need to have a short statement about your school that is compelling that you can add during your communication. If you can show your passion and love of what you do… People will buy from you over and over again!

Here's to your success!