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Tell me about your book Smile

Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service is a crash course in customer service and sales. You can read it in 60-minutes or less and immediately apply the information to delight customers and increase sales. Smile is the winner of 8 awards. At just $15.99 it's a very affordable and efficient way to train staff.

I also have a new book that's perfect if you have teens working for your business. The winner of two awards, Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today's Wired World is a crash course in face-to-face communication to ensure teens succeed in school, work and life.

In two sentences or less can you tell readers something unique about your book?

Smile is a crash course in customer service and sales. You can read it in 60-minutes or less and start increasing your sales today.

Why did you write Smile?

I wrote Smile because many businesses I visit are not providing a high level of customer service and are losing sales because of it.

Early in my career, I established, owned, and ran a highly successful award-winning specialty store. Fundamental to its success was a six-week employee training program that I created to guarantee outstanding customer service, ensure repeat business and positive word of mouth marketing, and maximize sales. The results were nothing short of amazing.

In Smile, I’ve collected together powerful tips and techniques from this training program. Smile is the book I wish I would have had when I owned my business. I wrote it to help businesses quickly and easily train their staff and increase sales today.

Why do you think customer service is so bad?
Poor customer service costs U.S. businesses an estimated $83 billion a year according to Geneys. Two in three customers have walked out of a store in the past year because of poor customer service according to Consumer Reports. And if that’s not bad enough, while 80% of companies think they’re providing superior service, customers say only 8% are hitting the mark, per a study by Bain & Company.

Clearly something is badly broken. I think, well, in many cases I know, that even if businesses conduct training, they train staff in processes, but not in critical people skills. People skills training is what many employees need and it’s why I wrote Smile. And in some cases businesses hire wrong.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me 1 1/2 years. I was working full time and writing it at night after work and on weekends.
What was it like to write a book?
It was a lot tougher and more time consuming than I thought. My goal in writing it, and my editor and I rewrote it many times to ensure there are no wasted words, was to hand it to an employee and have them exclaim, "I can read this!". This is exactly what’s happening because the book is so pithy, direct and to the point with practical, actionable advice. It boosts employee confidence as it gives people the training and tools they need to succeed.
Any success stories from businesses using your book so far?
Yes. People have responded very favorably. Here are just a few examples: A local car dealer, Thad Szott of Thad Szott Auto Group, purchased one book for each member of his staff, 30 books. Thad says, "This book has a simple comprehension, a quick delivery, and is right on target! What else can you ask for? I highly recommend this book to all those businesses who deal directly with people. We have started an "evidence" book full of positive customer feedback. Since we read Smile as a team, our evidence book has exploded."
 

A local store owner who sells my book in her gift shop told me that a restaurant owner first purchased one copy when his business was down because three of his waitresses were not getting along with customers. He came back and purchased three more copies. Two weeks later he reported that business was up because of Smile’s effect on the waitresses. Just that morning, he said, a customer had hugged one of the waitresses and given her the biggest tip she ever received — a $20 tip for breakfast! He was elated.

A high end grocer, Colasanti’s Market in Highland, Michigan, uses my book for training their 100 employees. Owner Ken Snook says, “Everyone who works in the store, including myself, is responsible for reading Smile. We want everyone to understand how important it is to do as the book recommends.”

Who would benefit from this book?
If you work with the public and serve people, you need this book. Businesses of all sizes-retail stores, restaurants, resorts, hotels, small businesses, entrepreneurs, auto dealers, government, nonprofits, volunteers and more will benefit greatly and make more money after reading Smile. Salespeople and customer service staff. Managers and business owners.
 

Schools and colleges, students, and teachers can benefit from this book. Smile teaches high school and college business students valuable people skills. Business students can use the book to prepare for a job, or to get a head start in their business career.

What types of businesses is your book targeting?
The vast majority of the information in my book is universal and can be used by any business, from small independent businesses to large Fortune 500 companies, and nonprofits too. The information is very universal and solves the problems that so many businesses across the board have. There are a few techniques that some would say are specifically for retail, but really 95% of the book is applicable to any business and that’s why I wrote it.
 

I've had businesses from dentist offices to automotive suppliers, restaurants and window washing companies purchase it and all have found it to be extremely effective at improving their businesses and have told me so.

How does your book compare in effectiveness to sending employees to customer service and sales workshops and seminars?
I worked extremely hard and specifically created my book to be simple, short and effective so companies could use my book in place of seminars and workshops. I think workshops and seminars are great, but let's face it: many front line employees who deal with customers do not get the chance to attend them either due to time or cost.

The beauty of my book is that you don't have to send your staff to an expensive 3, 6, 8 hour or one week workshop if you don't have the time or can’t afford it. They can read my book in 60-minutes or less and instantly start delighting customers and increasing sales. It’s affordable, quick and easy, which means employees will read and use it, and owners and managers can afford it.

Let me give you one example. A local teacher was filling in for a gift shop owner who was away on vacation. The teacher had never worked retail before, but read my book. When I was in the gift shop some customers walked in and the teacher asked, "How can I help you?" I said to her, "That's incredible that you asked 'How can I help you?' instead of what most people say, 'Can I help you?', which can easily be answered with "No." She responded, "I learned that from your book! In fact, I learned a lot of other valuable techniques from your book that I am using everyday here." She gave me the thumbs up and said "It works! Good job!"

Even if you attend a seminar or workshop, my book is an important tool to have to use as a training handbook and refresher after the event.

What other books are most similar to yours?
The book that most comes to mind as far as being as quick, easy to read and pithy is the best-seller, The One Minute Manager. I also think it’s similar in ease of use to the best-selling book Who Moved my Cheese.
 

The big differentiator between my book and all the other customer service and sales books is that you can read Smile in 60-minutes or less-it’s a crash course. You can immediately apply the actionable information to increase your sales the same day.

My editor and I worked very hard and wrote and rewrote Smile so there are no wasted words. It is direct, to the point and valuable.

Can you give our audience one powerful example from the book they can use today to improve their customer service and increase their sales?
Sure. One of the most powerful techniques you can do to improve your service and increase your sales today is to learn how to answer your phone properly and train your staff to do the same. When you answer the phone at your place of business, you’re the first point of contact with your prospects and customers. It’s critical that you make a great first impression.
 

To find the right tone, simply smile as you answer the phone. Here’s how your business should be answering the phone:

1. Smile and say: "Good morning (or afternoon or evening)!" Be sure to speak clearly.
2. State the complete name of your business, or say: "Welcome to _______ [your complete business name]."
3. Say: "This is _______ [your name]. How may I help you?"

Be upbeat, warm, inviting, and genuine - greet customers just as you would greet a guest in your home.

Any other phone tips?

1. Try to answer the phone within two rings, and definitely within three.
2. Call the customer by name when possible.
3. Always thank the customer for calling.

You donate 1% of your proceeds to animal welfare. Can you tell me a little about that?
I am passionate about many things, including buying local, supporting downtowns and farm markets, land conservation and animal welfare. When I researched and learned some of the horrific things going on with animals still today, I thought I could use my sales, fundraising and PR experience, and my book, to help raise funds to solve the problems.
Where is Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service available?
On my website at www.SmiletheBook.com .It is available for anyone who lives near Milford, Michigan at Main Street Art in downtown Milford, or Casa De Amici gift shop inside Colasanti’s Market in Highland, Michigan. In northern Michigan you can buy my book at Local Flavor Bookstore in downtown Boyne City, and Horizon Books in downtown Traverse City. It’s available at online booksellers like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, IndieBound.com.
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