Monitor your small-town business reputationA key element to the success of any small business is its reputation. Knowing what people are saying and how they feel about your business is important.
By: Lance Brower, Stutsman County Extension, The Jamestown Sun
A key element to the success of any small business is its reputation. Knowing what people are saying and how they feel about your business is important.
“A classical approach to evaluating your reputation is to do some type of study,” said Glenn Muske, the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s rural and agribusiness enterprise development specialist. “Yet unless the study is done by an unbiased, trusted outside source, the information received can easily be misleading.”
So how can a business owner get an accurate picture of what is being said about his or her business?
A good place to start is with trusted colleagues, mentors and others in your network. The people you ask must be those with whom you have established a relationship through time and who you know will provide you accurate information.
Often employees do not fit this category unless they have been a part of your organization for years because of the disparate level of authority you, as the owner, have. Yet developing a flow of information that your employees are voicing is something you should work on. Just as with employees, family and friends may not be the best source of information. While well-intended, they are biased, and this is not the time that you want simple agreement.
“A tool that exists but is little used by many small-business owners is online, particularly in the social media world,” Muske said. “It is easy to set up some tools to automatically monitor what is being said about your business.”
Online comments are growing in popularity. They are easy to make, and quite often the person can remain anonymous in doing so. Everyone has heard stories of how some of these comments have been picked up and spread rapidly through the Internet.
There are sites that encourage feedback on your business. Not monitoring this information can mean your business reputation is ruined before you even know it. Thus, you not only must monitor your reputation but take steps to respond when negative comments come forward, whether they are verbal, in writing or online. Protecting your business reputation is important in protecting your brand and long-term viability. It is worth your time and effort.
(Lance Brower is the community, leadership, and economic development extension agent, Stutsman County office, NDSU Extension Service. Contact him at 252-9030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.).