How to Motivate Your Employees During the Recession

Want to boost revenue during the slump? Reward customers and workers in novel ways. A few tips:

Communicate.

Early on, Amazon started sending confirmation e-mails, letting customers know the progress of their orders through the shipping process. Clue people into what’s going on behind the scenes, and they’ll be happier, even if they’re still waiting.”

Wow ‘em.

Strive to make the people who use your product or service feel welcome. At the Grand Wailea in Maui, you give your name to the guard at the front gate. A few hundred yards up the road, at the hotel entrance, you’re then magically greeted by name. The warm welcome helps make a great first impression. With today’s technology, how could you adapt that idea and win?

Celebrate.

Print one-year coupon booklets geared to holidays throughout the year. To maximize exposure, distribute to church and civic groups as well as clubs and associations, says advertising veteran Tom Feltenstein, author of “401 Killer Marketing Tactics.”

Spread the secret.

During limited periods, offer customers sealed envelopes containing mystery coupons. If you run a restaurant, the coupons could be good for free appetizers, soft drinks or desserts. Merchants could offer discounts on selected items.

Bring ‘em in.

If you’re a high-end restaurant suffering in the slump, take a tip from similar outfits in Miami’s South Beach. Offer price reductions on meals during certain hours — say from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Since most upscale restaurants don’t offer early bird specials, this could be a novelty for upscale customers.

Go important.

Offer VIP club memberships, which could include benefits such as members-only sales and priority service. Membership requirements should center on minimum monthly purchases.

Reward workers.

A leading maker of ducting products in Georgetown, Mass., lumps all holidays, vacation time and sick days into a single account. Employees can use the time when and how they wish, says Bob Nelson, author of “1001 Ways to Reward Employees.”

Get creative.

Several firms reward workers who come up with product ideas and money-saving plans. At one firm, when a moneysaving idea is implemented, a worker receives 15% of the out-of-pocket savings achieved in the first two years. If a suggestion results in a new product, he or she gets 3% of first-year sales. Create your own plan that works for your company.

Make them owners.

In addition to offering each worker roughly 4,500 shares of stock, a Minnesota-based insurer has given staff members quarterly financial briefings, called “Share the Wealth.” The firm also offers classes on topics such as marketing, customer service and operations, taught by management. The classes help workers learn and boost sales — increasing the value of their stock.

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