With the new season of dance upon us this is the time of year to meet new customers and reconnect wit your current ones. When you have a chance to meet your customers face to face this is a great time to build your relationship with them. Are you however connecting in the right way? Studies have shown that little signs and body language can be sending the wrong signals. Here is a list of things to be aware of when you meet current or new customers. But don't stop there! You can also check yourself with your staff, faculty, business partners and landlords.
1. Look them in the eye! Yes this is very important. If you don't you will be sending a signal that may make the other person not trust you. Furthermore the other person can feel your warmth and also see that you mean business when that is what you need to project. Careful that you are not looking on the ground or eyes darting around. Recent studies show that if you do not make eye contact you will be considered weak.
2. Smile like you mean it! This one seems easy enough but it is amazing how many business owners do not so this. Confucius had a great saying "The shop owner that does not have a smile on their face, should not open shop!" Think about this for a week and when you go into any business check out the owner or the employees. See if they smile and watch the reaction of the customers they come in contact with. I have studied this many times and it is really amazing how this one detail can make a BIG difference. Make sure to get all of your staff and faculty on board with this idea, it will make a huge difference to your business and bottom line.
3. Firm yet friendly hand shake! A wimpy handshake is not good no matter what gender you are. A firm hand shake in many societies is considered polite and the sign of good breeding. A firm handshake with a smile and a look directly into the eyes of the person you are connecting with will make you a star in the eyes of the person you meet. This is critical when you meet new customers inside or out of your studio. Think about how you feel the next time you shake someones hand and it is weak and loose. A firm grip will send a STRONG message!
4. Speak clearly and be careful of your pace! Have you ever met someone when you go into a store and you have trouble understanding them even though they are speaking your language? It is amazing how many people rush and slur their words. Sometimes it can be that they are nervous and really don't enjoy talking to people. If this is the case take a deep breath and try to speak at a pace that is not slow but not fast either. Keep the eye contact and it will make it easier to communicate with your customers.
5. Ask questions! Whether you like to talk or not ask questions to get the customer to talk. If you like to talk this can really be a challenge. Keep in mind that people would much rather talk about themselves and their issues any day then hear what you have to say. Plus it is a great way for you to get to know more about them!
6. It's all about their name! I found this to be a challenge especially as our studio grew. However, I will discreetly ask our front desk staff to clue me in if I don't know someone's name. The sweetest music to someone's ears is their own name. Use it often and you will build a terrific rapport with your customers.
7. Wrap it up! Customers love when you have a moment to spend with them. However, don't let them go on and on or you may be busy rushing from room to room or going into meetings so make sure to always wrap up all conversations with a great phrase like "Great to see you again. I have to go and teach another class so please excuse me" or "Have a great weekend and hope to see you again soon" The list can go on and on but you see the point here. Don't leave your customers hanging. Find a nice and polite way to say goodbye!
In closing, remember to be yourself, relax, smile and enjoy the process of meeting new people and reconnecting with your customers. Yes, I know to some that doesn't sound like much fun but the person you are face to face with is probably a bit uptight about talking as well. So, if you are engaging and easy-going chances are they will mirror your energy.
One other last thing to remember is that people don't care about how much you know until they know about how much you care... Enjoy!