Speaker offers business advice

Making customers happy should be the focal point of any business, motivational speaker Michael Fortino told a gathering of Craig residents Wednesday.

More than 200 people turned out for the lunchtime presentation at the Holiday Inn sponsored by the Craig Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association.

"You need to step into the shoes of the people you represent and make the individual you're talking to feel like they are the only person that matters at that moment," Fortino said.

The world-renowned speaker offered participants examples to bolster customer service skills. Better rapport with customers should increase sales at local businesses, he said.

Fortino mixed first-hand examples of both positive and negative examples of customer service during his speech.

After getting a rental car stolen, the Hertz rental car company said it wouldn't rent cars to Fortino in the future. That represents one instance of a company losing potential revenue as Fortino has since broadcast the situation to millions of television viewers and thousands of others who attend his live presentations, he said.

"It takes four positive experiences just to balance out one negative experience," Fortino said. "You need to look at ways to win over customers and give people the benefit of the doubt because every customer matters."

Sherri Fredrickson an owner of Favorite Things in Craig said Fortino offered good advice.

"I think he said things that we know but we tend to forget," she said. "The customer is always first and we need to make a good impression. We have to remember to always be on our best behavior. It's the same thing I look for when I'm a customer."

Darshann Ruckman noted the event's high turnout.

"Almost every major business person is here," said Ruckman, an ambassador for the Craig Chamber of Commerce. "I think everybody walked out with at least one thing they can use in life."

Ruckman cited three ways she'll use Fortino's advice in her job as the director of sales for Holiday Inn.

That includes painting a picture to sell the hotel to the community, remembering not to think of some work duties as "not my job" and reminding employees to smile and be interested in what customers are doing, she said.

"This (presentation) really brings people back to the basics," Ruckman said. "One of the things that Craig lacks is gaining a new perspective. I think this (speech) will cause a real buzz."

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