One of my favorite restaurants to go would have to be Olive Garden. I’m always satisfied when I go to Olive Garden, no matter what city I’m in. From the staff to the food, I’d give them 5 Stars, but this post isn’t about my love for Olive Garden. I believe that Olive Garden and other successful restaurants alike, succeed when they have an organized process in place. As each customer enters through the front doors, they are entering into a business with a process: a process that determines their experience.
Depending on how fine tuned your business processes are, this will say a lot for the experience you put your clients through. So let’s break down 5 concepts you can take from Olive Garden that can help you to enhance your Real Estate Business. This process works great if you have a website because you can automate this experience as well. However, if you don’t then that’s ok…just think about the following concepts:
1. The “Right This Way” concept
In Olive Garden: When you first enter the Olive Garden, you are typically greeted by the host who calls on someone to seat you. Usually the person who seats you will say “Right This Way” as they lead off into the restaurant with you following behind them. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of going into restaurants where I have to seat myself. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that when the restaurant is crowded, it is usually tough to find a seat; especially if you have multiple guests. The person who seats you knows exactly where to go and can get you there quickly; it’s just easier if you follow them.
In Your Business: When a client sees your sign, your Craigslist ad, your flyer, etc., in order for them to click through to your site or pick up the phone and call you, they have to be given a “Call To Action”. Peter Kolat, a fellow BP blog contributor, actually goes into this concept a little more in depth. However, the main thing is to tell your clients exactly what you want them to do. For example, you could say, “Visit My Website Today” or “Pick up the phone and call me at 555-555-5555 right now.” Tell them exactly what you want them to do and if they’re interested, they will follow through. Don’t just assume that everyone who sees your advertisement, will know what to do next. You must guide them through the experience!
2. The “Give Them What They Want” concept
In Olive Garden: After you are seated, you are then greeted by your server, who eventually takes your order. You get the opportunity to read through the menu and choose exactly what you want. If you need more information about a certain dish or drink, your server will be available to answer any questions you may have. Once they’ve completed your order, they take it to the kitchen, where the meal is prepared. After the meal has been prepared, your server carries it out to you, and as you look at your entree, hopefully you notice that you have been given exactly what you wanted.
In Your Business: After a lead comes to your website, they expect to see something related to what your advertisement says. If your ad says I can buy your home in 7 days and your website has nothing to do with buying their home, they they will get ticked off and click the “X” button. Even if they pick up the phone and call you, they then expect to hear something related to the reason they dialed your number. If you can’t give them what they want, then it’s likely that you will be unable to convert them into a deal. The bottom line is that you need to give them a solution to their problem! You need to combine the “Right This Way” concept with the “Give Them What They Want” concept. Put this on your ad and your website because you want your client to go where you need them to go to get what they want, in order to continue on with your process.
3. The “Is everthing ok?” concept
In Olive Garden: This is big! As you begin eating your meal, your server will often check up on you to ensure you have everything you need. They ask if you need anything else and of course, will be sure to get it for you. Some servers have mastered this concept and usually come at the perfect time in order to give you a refill, condiments, desserts, etc. However, some servers are horrible at this, as they either follow up too much or barely follow up at all. Follow up too much and you can annoy the customer. Follow up too little and they can get impatient and end up asking another server for help. As a server, this part is essential because the customer’s tip can be determined heavily by this one concept alone.
In Your Business: When a lead gets further into your process, you’ll notice that after you’ve given them a taste of what they want, they may tend to dwindle off. This could be for a number of reasons: Life could be getting in the way, they may be confused on what you’ve told them about your business, you may not have been what they were looking for, etc. In order to identify this and to remind your client that you are there for them, you need to follow up often! Check up on them and see where they mind is when it comes to doing business with you.
Are they ready? If not, why not? Do they have more questions? If you have a website, then an auto responder is perfect for helping with this. When someone comes to your website, you can set what they will see regarding your business, and using an autoresponder will allow you to set when they see your message. However, you have to be careful not to send messages too much, because they could get annoyed. Of course, you have to be careful not to do it too little, because they could forget all about you and see someone else that can help them. (your competition!) Combine the “Give Them What They Want Concept” with the “Is Everything Ok” or “Follow Up” concept and you’ll be fine. You have to find that happy medium: not too much, not too little, but just right! Follow up the right way, and you’ll be on your way to the next concept, which will put a smile on your face…guaranteed!
4. The “Check Please!” concept
In Olive Garden: After the customer finishes their meal, there will come a point where it will be time for them to go, but not without a price to be paid. They have to pay the server for their services and for the food. Hopefully the customer has gotten exactly what they’ve wanted and they will graciously hand over their cash because they were satisfied.
In Your Business: There may be some slight differences with how this concept is handled in your real estate business. You most likely won’t get any tips, and the only way you are going to get paid is if you’ve mastered the 3 concepts above and have converted your lead(s) into a deal. Olive Garden will get paid regardless, because the customer has already eaten the food. However, in your business, you will need to lead your customer through your process until they see where they need your services (this doesn’t have to take long) and want to do business with you. When the customer sees you as a solution to their problem, you’ll be able to say “Check Please” after closing the deal. Whether it’s to buy their home or sell them a home.
5. The “Tell a Friend” concept
At Olive Garden: Simple! The server typically says, “Come again and tell your friends about us!” So what does the customer do? Well if they liked the service then they’ll come again. Not only that, but if their friends need a recommendation for a good restaurant, Olive Garden would then likely be at the top of their list. This is how Olive Garden can make more money from repeat business – referrals!
In Your Business: I talked about this concept before in my post titled, How To Make More Money, Even After Closing Your Deals”. It touches on following up and hones in on getting referrals after you’ve provided a service. Unless you’re dealing with an investor or landlord, you most likely won’t get repeat business from the same buyer or seller. They typically will buy or sell the home and move on with their lives. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t still bring you business. Word of Mouth marketing is extremely useful, and if you helped them solve their problem, they will definitely tell their friends and family. Make sure to remind them of this – to refer you to their friends and family – use the Follow Up Concept!
6. Walk in Their Shoes!
In Your Business: Ok, this is an extra tip that can really help you understand the effectiveness of your processes and the experience your customer goes through. Basically, you need to start from the ad and begin asking yourself questions that will ensure, if you were “in their shoes,” how would you respond to your own ad. You definitely want to look at this objectively because you’re the one who wrote the ad and your opinion may be biased. If you can’t do it, then get a friend or relative to help you out. Then, as you proceed onto the website or the next portion of your process, look for things you need to be fixed. I’m referring to grammatical errors, working links, unclear messages, quicker ways to get something done, etc. You want to walk in your customers shoes and experience your processes, because there could be something that you missed and your leads could be getting lost somewhere in the process. You’ll notice this because it will reflect on your business. If your potential lead can accomplish the same goal in fewer steps, then that is the route they will take. So, MAP it out for them and have them go where you want them to go, see what you want them to see, in order for them to make a decision to do business with you.
Remember, that you are in control of the entire process, as well as the experience that your “customer” undergoes. From the Greeting to the Close, you can make the experience a dream come true!
To Your Success,
J. Lamar Ferren
“New Breed” Investor
Ps. What kind of process do you have your leads go through? Do you focus on online or offline systems? Is it a short process or a long process? Depending on your strategy, that may or may not be the problem that is holding your business back, or it could be the key aspect that is allowing your business to thrive! Share your thoughts below.