Now that we've moved the clocks ahead an hour (albeit a few weeks earlier than usual), it's time to think about doing some spring cleaning. Take a look around your office. Are there piles of supplier brochures stacked on top of other piles of brochures that might just be sitting on top of those bills that you meant to pay last month? If so, it's time to get a dumpster in or better yet, a recycling bin. If you are in a retail setting, step outside and check out the posters you have hanging in your windows. Are they faded? Peeling off? Rip them down and hire some window cleaners come in to freshen things up.This month, I suggest you also take the opportunity to do some spring cleaning of a different sort, by taking a close look at your business.
First, study your list of clients carefully. Is there is a certain group whose phone calls or e-mails you just hate to receive? These are the folks who look and never book, who ask you a million questions and then return to you with a lower quote for their vacation that they've found on the Internet. Cross them off your list. It's time to say good-bye.
Similarly, is there another cluster of clients who do spend money but treat you and your staff poorly? Maybe they think it's your fault when their plane takes off late. Perhaps they're the ones who phone from the airport screaming once that their limo hasn't rolled up immediately to the curb to pick them up. (Note: These are the same clients who always end up standing in the wrong place no matter how clearly you've written it on their itinerary.) Fire them. Send them a "Dear John" letter. People who think they can abuse you because they pay for your services are not good for your business and they are not worth the dent they put in your staff's morale.
Now that I've so cavalierly suggested that you trim your client list, where do you go to replace those that you've dismissed? Ask for referrals from those clients who are civil and who book the level of business that is worth your while. It's likely that their family members and colleagues have similar dispositions and pocketbooks to theirs. If these clients travel on the luxury level, be sure to dress the part of luxury yourself. Remember, people like to do business with those who remind them of themselves.
For your final act of spring cleaning, managers should take a good look at their staff, one by one. If you had the chance to hire this person again, would you do it? Perhaps their style has never aligned itself with yours (are they rushing to get off the phone with clients, is 'no' their answer to everything they're asked to do? Are they constantly seeking to get travel perks even though they haven't met their sales quota, ever?). If your brow crinkles when you think of them, consider replacing them.
Front-line agents should do the same with their managers. Are you getting out of this job everything you were promised? Are you excited to go to work every day? If you feel you could just as easily be working in a plastics factory as the travel agency you're sitting in, it's time to move on. Good help is hard to find in the industry these days so you'll likely be snapped up right away by someone else if you have the right attitude and the proper sales skills. Why not start the spring season off in a place where you can learn and grow?
Now, if we could only get that extra hour back!
Ruthanne Terrero, CTC EDITORIAL DIRECTOR