How would you like to have your loyal customers brag about your green industry business? If your customers feel they are getting the kind of service or value they want, they can literally be the best sales force for your company.

According to research, on average, a happy customer will tell five to seven other people about the great experience they are having with a company they are using. As we all know with social media, it can spread into the thousands.

Here are three ways you can create the kind of foundation that creates the kind of service that your customers will brag about.

1. Communicate with your employees on a regular basis.

The first place to look for information on how to create the right kind of business strategy is your team. You must have strong two-way communication with them. Find out what you and your management team can do to make it a better place for your employees to work. Ask them what they want the company to be like. It makes sense that if your employees enjoy working for your company, they will do a more effective job. They will be the kind of employees your competitors wish they had working for their green industry businesses.

And one of the biggest benefits of this strategy is that if you do a great job serving your employees, they will do a great job serving their customers. Like the saying goes, “What comes around goes around.”

Another question you could ask your employees is, what kind of training or tools should be available for them to develop and maximize their ability to provide the best service or products possible?

One of my clients had a meeting and asked his employees what they needed to make the company more productive. They told him about some equipment upgrades that were needed. The price tag for this type of equipment was not cheap. However, the business owner realized that if he could create a more streamlined operation, his employees would probably be able to work much more efficiently. It could also reduce worker fatigue and eventually improve productivity and profitability. As he told me, after he made the investment, he realized it actually ended up being a much better business decision than he first thought. Within the first three months, the equipment more than paid for itself in reduction in waste, along with higher levels of employee job satisfaction.

It makes sense that making a business a place where employees and managers want to come to work and enjoy serving their customers will make it a more profitable enterprise. Business owners who consciously invest in their businesses by doing what it takes to create an upbeat and happy work environment are into a good and successful thing.

One small business owner, Mitch Lipon of IgniteXDS in Brighton, Michigan, strives to create a positive environment for his team of mostly millennial employees. He does this by creating a place that supports lots of open communication and trust. They have daily meetings and short “huddles,” as necessary. It seems to be working. The company has had consistent client growth with corresponding profitability over the last seven years.

2. Next, you and your team must communicate directly with your customers. Ask your employees what kinds of things they are hearing from their customers. What are the customers saying to them that they need or want? What do customers not want?

One of our clients, a property maintenance company owner, makes it a practice to periodically visit his major clients at their places of business. He learns firsthand some of their likes and dislikes, and curiously enough, writes even more business from them.

Over the years, he has learned that when he does not do this, he begins to lose touch with his customers. He realizes that many of his clients like the feeling they get when they have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with him. As he has shared with me, there have been many customers he has been able to retain, because he was accessible when they had a complaint that could not be resolved by his management team.

As Cavett Robert once said, “Your clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” By having you and your employees directly communicate with your clients, you demonstrate to them that you really do care.

3. Finally, use outside resources to conduct internal focus groups for unbiased communication. Often your managers or employees will not directly tell you everything you need to know. The reason is, they don’t want to hurt your feelings, or experience any direct confrontation and repercussions with or from you. To avoid this quandary, use an outside consultant to gather anonymous feedback from your team.

I was recently hired by a large manufacturing firm to conduct internal focus groups with managers and frontline employees. Being an outside consulting firm, and keeping the interview findings anonymous and confidential, allowed me to gather answers that would not have been disclosed if the interviews had been executed face-to-face or directly with upper management.

This, along with a follow-up meeting with the individuals as a group, sent a message to the departments interviewed that upper management was serious about creating service solutions related directly to external customer concerns.

The same goes for your external customers. When you use an outside consultant, and management and employees are not present to facilitate your focus groups, you will get purer and more unbiased information.

With one small business client, where I facilitated an outside focus group, there were things that were brought up regarding the cleanliness of the coffee area and restroom facilities that would have been embarrassing for the participants to say—and for the management team to hear— firsthand.

So, in summary, if your green industry customers feel they are getting the kind of service or value they want, they can literally be the best sales force for your business.

Be proactive and communicate directly with your employees and customers. When you do this consistently, you will be building the foundation to create an ongoing flow of satisfied customers who continually refer you to their friends and acquaintances. And, best of all, you will grow your business by delivering what your customers truly need and want.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Borg works with small and mid-size green industry companies to improve customer acquisition and retention. For more information or to ask him a question, contact him at 734-404-5909 or email him at: tom@tomborg.com or visit his website at: www.@tomborgconsulting.com.