Even the shiniest business reputation has been dulled and dented by the disruptions of the pandemic. But your reputation is a crucial business asset, and it pays to know that you can repair it—and keep improving it.
Your reputation is the lifeblood of your dance business, and every day—one customer, one client at a time—you work hard to maintain it. After all, it’s one of your business’ most important assets: A good reputation will boost your sales, attract new customers and make them think more highly of the quality of everything you offer.
But reputations can take a hit. An incident blows up, especially online, and all that hard work goes away. And let’s face it: The last few years have been hard. Even the shiniest reputation has been dulled and dented by the pandemic. Staff shortages, product shortages, closures; nothing has run as smoothly as we would like.
But there are better days ahead. These tarnished reputations have created a wonderful opportunity for your dance business to shine even brighter. The key is to be intentional about working on your reputation, and then you’ll find it will help your business rise above the competition.
Start at Step 3 of the guide below for a post-pandemic buff-up. Then, build these recommendations into the day-to-day running of your business. Don’t miss this chance to shine brighter than your competition.
And if your reputation has taken a bigger hit, then start at Step 1 and know that reputations can be repaired.
Step 1: Assess the Damage
Monitor what is being said about your store or studio or dancewear product online. Search hashtags that are relevant to your business. Monitor Facebook groups. Establish the scope of the problem so you don’t over- or underreact.
Work to understand why people are upset. What’s the sentiment? What words are being used? That sentiment is what you’ll need to address; using the exact words they use will help you connect better.
Step 2: Apologize
Don’t make excuses. Be clear and transparent. There probably are mitigating factors, reasons why things happened. Don’t whine; no one cares. When you include excuses in your apology it will only muddy your message. You messed up. You’re sorry. Done.
Step 3: Make the Changes
Identify any underlying problem and fix it. Set up policies and procedures so it won’t happen again. Make sure your customers know about the changes. Think of these changes as a way to make your company better—they are a key step in restoring your reputation.
Step 4: Stop Talking About the Problem
Avoid feeding the fire. Don’t keep everyone’s attention focused on the past. Change the conversation and move on.
Step 5: Get Others Talking Positively
Get your champions to talk about you. Reach out to your best customers, and ask them to write a review. Drown the bad news in good. There are people who love you, get them to speak up. Now.
Step 6: Do Good Things
After you’ve apologized and fixed the problem, it’s time to do some good deeds. Sponsor dancers, help a local charity, do the good you were doing before. Just make sure you get coverage about what you’re doing. Put it on your social media, on your blog and, as often as possible, in your local press.
Day-to-Day: How to Keep Your Reputation Glowing
Get out front of any problems. It takes seven to 10 times more effort to restore a reputation than it takes to maintain it. That’s why it’s always better to solve a problem before it gets out of control. Deal with any customer complaints quickly and fairly. Take any complaint resolution offline so you’re not solving it in public.
Monitor online conversations. That way, you can nip a problem in the bud. A great way to do this is to set up Google alerts for your business. It’s easy to do, just follow the instruction here.
Burnish an already good reputation. A stellar reputation is the best way to fight efforts to tarnish your business, but think of it as a fire that you need to keep stoking. Have an ongoing system for asking good customers for reviews. And feature great reviews on your website’s home page.
Make sure the reality of your business matches your reputation. If there’s a gap between perception and reality, customers will inevitably be disappointed and, eventually, reality wins. Your reputation will suffer. So fix the reality to match the reputation you want.
Don’t let your reputation get left behind. People’s expectations change. Your performance needs to keep up with the times, with what customers care about now. Otherwise, what once was a stellar reputation may just seem “meh.”
For instance, transparency is becoming an essential factor in how people judge our businesses. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 81 percent of consumers agreed that trusting a brand to do what is right is an important purchase consideration.
Be clear about your values. Make sure they are stated on your website’s “About Us” page. Be humble about them. We are all trying to be better, but we aren’t perfect. Make sure that your values statement reflects that. People will then cut you some slack should you stumble.
The Bottom Line
Our dance businesses’ reputations are one of our key assets. And that asset has taken a hit over the last few years. It’s time to create a plan to buff it up, and keep it front and center. Always have a plan to recover when we do stumble. The well-being of our businesses depends on it.
Gilbert Russell is president of Brio Bodywear, which has two brick-and-mortar dancewear stores in Ottawa, Canada. Through his consulting firm No Qualms Retail, he shares his experience and knowledge with other independent retailers.