Recently got back into fitness training after a break over winter – boy was it tough! I was shocked at how quickly I had the level of fitness that I had worked hard to build up. I hadn’t been consistent.
While I was running (if you can call it that) I got to thinking about the importance of consistency for our businesses.
In tourism the flow of customers into our businesses can often be anything but consistent – there are peak seasons, shoulder seasons and low sessions.
And for a lot of businesses I reckon our business practices often peak and trough too.
When we are getting slammed in summer marketing is the last thing on our minds, customer service might slip because we don’t have the processes in procedures in place to manage the volume of business over summer and we aren’t tracking and forward planning.
After the crowds have gone, we take a moment to catch our breathe & we realize that winter is coming, forward bookings are low and we panic – pump out a promotion to try to fill our rooms & tours at any cost.
Without proper planning and consistent, strategic activities the cycle continues and our business never move beyond the survival stage.
What should you be doing to be more consistent in your business?
Firstly it should all start with your strategy, you should have a business plan in place, which includes:
Consistency in Brand
Does all of your activities look and sound the same, all the time? Do you have:
- Brand Fonts
- Brand Colours
- A professional logo
- Brand values and
- Brand voice
That you use across all of your marketing and communications. Does everything your do look like and sound like you? Consistency will build trust and brand recognition
A great example of this, especially brand voice, is the online retailer hard to find – they inject personality and fun into all of their communications. When you place your order you get the standard series of confirmation and shipping emails which are anything but boring – “Congratulations on your excellent taste” “Yes, way your order has been shipped!”
Everything you do in your business forms part of the brand, your images, colours, staff uniforms and even your language. Create your brand and apply it to everything!
Consistency in Marketing Activities
With a strong brand in place, you need to get your message out to your ideal customers.
This should be driven by your marketing plan Having a marketing plan in place will make you look ahead, be strategic and think about what you need to do now to attract customers for the next quiet period .
Consistency is super important for your social media activities – many business focus on building Facebook fans, instagram, snapchat & twitter followers, but then don’t regularly post content and interact with their fans.
Choose the platforms that are best for your business, create a content schedule and where possible, schedule your posts (especially through the busy periods!)
Cultivating reviews through TripAdvisor, Google+ and other reviews sites during peak periods, when you have more customers in your business is great for your marketing in the long term (Tip -having great customer service and operating procedures in place will help you get positive reviews!)
Consistency in Customer Service
This is a big one for seasonal businesses – I find it a lot where I live, you go to a café during the week outside of holidays and get awesome service, it’s attentive & quick.
But come the weekend or school holidays when they are packed, suddenly you are waiting 20 minutes for someone to take your order and another 30 minutes for your coffee! Yes, staffing level may be part of the problem, but it can also be a reflection of your systems and processes.
Think about training you can a put in place, practices that you can implement and start using now, so that when those super busy periods come around again you can manage it.
Also think about all the touch points in your business, through the entire travel cycle, do you and your staff provide the same standard of service when:
- You answer the phone
- Reply to emails
- Welcome your guests
- Thank you guests
- Follow up with your guests
Is the customer service standard the same at all of the time?
Providing consistently awesome customer service is going to help you cultivate those reviews that are important for you marketing.
Consistency in processes and procedures
I went to a new bar the other day, it had only been open a few days, and it was fairly quite. While sipping on drinks, we intently watched the staff; orders would come in staff would wander into the kitchen, ask what to do with them, there was a lot of discussion… orders eventually came out, the waitress brought them out and wandered around for 10 minutes looking for the customer (who’s burgers where probably cold by the time they got them). It was chaos!
To avoid this, you need processes, procedures and systems. You should have a ‘standard operating procedure’ for everything in you do in your business, from answering the phone to guiding a tour, taking payments and updating your website. Have them written down and train your staff in them – so everyone knows how to do their job – consistently.
It can be tedious task, to create procedures, but the process is so beneficial. Start reviewing your process with your team, get them to document what they do and identify was that process could be made better.
What do you need to do?
Get a plan! A business plan & a marketing plan. Set goals and put systems and procedures in place help you achieve them.
I’ve got my training plan together, systems & support in place to make it happen and contingencies for the days that I just can’t make it happen.
Now is a great time reflect, review before the summer season, peak season for many tourism businesses, starts – how can you be more consistent in your branding, marketing, customer service and processes, have good systems (I love good system), stick to them.
As Anthony Robbins says
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”
Consistency is the key to being successful at anything.
A few tweaks and forward planning now might just make your summer smoother, customers happier and have you hitting the ground running with your marketing in the New Year.