When you start out a business, it’s not just your job… it’s your livelihood. In a fast paced and competitive marketplace, small to medium sized businesses need to be on their top game all the time to compete with the multinational corporate giants. Poor reputation can bring even businesses deemed ‘too big to fail’ to their knees. While multinational giants can afford to enlist the services of expensive legal teams to protect their reputations, you have only yourself.
Here are some ways to ensure that your business has a great reputation that will keep clients coming in, customers helping to expand your reach and growth and success for you and your employees…
1. Maintain Excellent Quality Control
No client or customer is ever going to want to pay for an inferior product. Failing to ensure good quality in your products and services is one of the surest ways to demolish your business’ reputation. Whether you’re a construction subcontractor carrying out a weld inspection or a blogger proofreading your output, it’s important to ensure that you maintain an obsession with quality control. This is especially prudent when you’re first starting out and you live (and eat) by your volume. While you may be tempted to rush your work, the backpedalling and extra effort needed to correct mistakes is invariably more damaging to productivity than keeping an eye on your work in the first place.
2. Foster Loyalty
All of the big brands understand the importance of using customer feedback to their advantage. Aside from the obvious outlets like Google reviews, you owe it to yourself to think about how you can engender loyalty in your brand and use your customers’ feedback as a tool to expand your reach. Consider the Uber model, whereby customers can earn money off their next ride by sharing the app with their friends, family and colleagues. Starbucks also reward customer’s loyalty by incorporating a points system into their app. This allows customers to earn free drinks through repeat custom while also ‘rewarding’ them with bonus points when they first download the app.
3. Help Others to Look Good
No business exists in a vacuum, and helping others to look good is a great way of establishing yourself as one of the good guys and not a profit obsessed business leviathan. This can be done in a number of ways such as co-branding (think of all those lip balms flavoured after well known soft drinks), where you ally with another non-competing business on a project of mutual advantage or even using social media to say nice things about other businesses.
4. Cause Advocacy
Allying yourself with a charitable cause is a great way of doing good while creating positive associations with your business and brand. Think for example of the yoghurt giant Yoplait’s support of breast cancer awareness. Despite the increase of links between dairy products and breast cancer risk, Yoplait got ahead of the story by making a public commitment to fighting breast cancer.
A bad reputation can seriously damage a business, but building a good one is surprisingly easy so long as you’re consistent and mindful.