Achtung: Baby Businesses
I may be slightly biased here as I am a big fan of Germany and I have always enjoyed visiting and spending time with my German friends. I have recently returned from a trip to Berlin, my first visit to Germany in years and importantly my first as a business owner. I was as I always am when I am in Germany in awe of how wonderfully efficient everything is run. I also was indulged with superb customer service and found myself surrounded by a happy and seemingly upbeat nation. Not bad traits for a young business to adopt I thought to myself.
In the current marketplace young businesses have to work harder and act smarter than ever before to succeed. There is little margin for error if one wants to survive the next 18 months. However, I am still amazed at the poor level of customer service I still receive in Ireland and how defeatist many business people are. I firmly intend to be around, ready and waiting for the upturn and I look at being more German as a tactic to do this:
- Being German in business – Okay I am going to play around with some stereotypes here, German’s are often referred to as being very direct and to the point. What a great trait to have as a business! Have a clear message and communicate clearly and concisely to your target market.
- Go the Extra Mile for your customers – Everywhere I went in Germany, nothing was too much trouble. A staff member at the hotel I was staying at drove us to a restaurant (we wanted to go to) as he said it was not too easy to get to on the train and then offered to collect us if we wanted. That is an experience so positive – I have told countless friends and will definitely return to that hotel the next time I am in Berlin.
- Excellent customer service – Every shop, train station, restaurant I went to had people willing to assist me and thank me for my business. This had an amazing effect on how I felt- happy, wanted and satisfied. Not only was the customer service great, the people came across as genuine and sincere. Outstanding customer service is something every business should strive for and never compromise on.
- Smile – I must confess I wouldn’t think of Germany as being a very “Smiley” nation, but I was amazed at how many smiling faces that looked back at me in Berlin. Never under estimate the power of a warm smile. It can definitely be a deal maker!
- Handshake – Ohhhh how off putting a weak, limp handshake can be. Nothing is more reassuring than a warm firm (not Arnold Schwarzenegger) handshake.
- Serious, consistent and organised – Again being in business is serious business! I love the fact that most of the companies I have dealt with in Germany are always consistent and highly reliable. Portraying these traits to your customers will make them feel comfortable about you and your product or service. I missed several trains in Berlin and took great comfort from the fact that there would be another one soon and that it would arrive at the precise time it was supposed to.
- Upbeat – I was completely amazed how upbeat and positive the German people were about the economic climate. They were aware of the challenges ahead of them, but were extremely positive about their future. This is very much a message that I want to convey to my customers.
- Dress to impress – There is no excuse for not looking your best when dealing with your customers. The business professionals I encountered were immaculately turned out. If I am looking for new business or even trying to keep my existing customers I cannot afford not to look the part.
- Socialise – Many of my German friends spend their spare time outdoors socialising with friends. They tend not to spend the same amount of time staring at a television screen. Not only is the outdoors great for fresh air and exercise, but can also lead to some great networking opportunities too.
Maybe this article is a true reflection of how German business can help me succeed or maybe I was there on a good day?
On the week of St. Patrick’s Day it seems strange to be talking about making my business more German. However I really want to succeed and hope that I can make my competitors Green with envy in the future!
This post is part of the SugarTone: Sweet Business Blogging Contest.