Businesses that focus on innovation and improvement are more likely to survive—and thrive—in today's economy.
"When times are tough, some businesses freeze up," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "However, now is the time to be competitive, get their name out there and improve their brand."
BBB offers guidance on how to improve your business:
Build trust. Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace. BBB encourages ethical business practices through BBB's Standards of Trust.
Create an experience. Hire the right staff and empower employees to carry out your company mission. Encourage internal and external feedback.
Focus on customer service. Strengthen policies concerning guarantees, exchanges, refunds and other forms of customer care. Define customer service values, and then train employees on how to handle various scenarios. Customer service doesn't stop at the point-of-sale; it should be an ongoing effort to ensure satisfaction—which inevitably generates repeat business.
Think creatively. Delight customers with special incentives, discounts, coupons, rewards cards or loyalty benefits programs.
Get involved. Giving back to the community builds good values and can improve your business' image. Reach out to Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs and other service organizations. Participate or volunteer at goodwill events and fundraisers.
Form partnerships and network. Explore relationships with Better Business Bureau, Chambers of Commerce and other professional business associations.
Develop an online presence. Stay involved and converse with your customers. Businesses can use the Web to connect with current contacts and reach out to new ones. Businesses of all types can benefit from having a website and many social networking sites offer free account profiles.