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See Your Business with Fresh Eyes by Brian Chernett

Brian Chernett

Brian Chernett

When markets are tough, as they are at the moment, we need every bit of help to make sure our businesses continue to trade. Perhaps now is a good time to experience your business as a customer might and pick up on those areas where things have begun to slip.

As a retail manager, I would sometimes take a store manager outside, ask her to close her eyes and then walk her back into the store. Only once she was back inside would she open her eyes and look again at the familiar surroundings – but this time with ’fresh eyes’. It was amazing how much she would see that she wasn’t seeing every time she walked into the store in the normal way.

The culture of a business is as familiar to those inside it as the inside of the store was to those store managers. We are surrounded by it and over the course of time we barely see it. Sometimes it is useful to get a pair of fresh eyes for culture as well. Your visitors see it immediately and will be influenced by it.

Your brand needs to go deep into the company and become part of the culture. If your brand says that you are helpful – are you being helpful? Is everyone helpful? If you claim to be a friendly company – how is that being manifested? Are customers being greeted in a friendly way? Do members of the team smile when they meet and greet customers? Even when they are on the phone?

When you find something that isn’t aligned, just remember that everyone has their blindspots. Remind team members of the standard you require and, where necessary, retrain them. Only as a very last resort should you need to go the next step and take disciplinary action. Consistent insistence works best in these situations. Empowering team members to give even better service, is also a great idea.

Your visitors notice when the delivery is not aligned with your brand promise and make judgements about doing future business with you. Your competitors hear about – and even experience for themselves – these gaps in performance and will exploit them. If you want to know how your competitors are performing, try watching their stand at a trade show or exhibition or simply listen to your customers.

Don’t leave your external image to chance. Put a regular day in the diary (or better, an irregular day), and come into the business with ‘fresh eyes’. That’s what I call a culture audit and the effects can be electrifying.

You are probably working hard to get prospects and customers to call you –through advertising and promotion – don ‘t lose them through a business blind spot.

Brian Chernett is founder of The Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) – He has 43 years’ experience as managing director of private and public companies, including subsidiaries of Booker Bros McConnell, the Landmark Group, and several other major companies. Find out more at
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