Archives for April 2014

Forgiving the tyre-kickers

 

Ford Model T

Ford Model T (Photo credit: Jon Stow) – Don’t kick these tyres

Most of those who inquire after my services know what they want. They know that what I do will give them value. If they do not understand that, I hope I am able to persuade them of the value they will get.

Just now and again I hear from people who do not know what they want. They may think they might. It is a bit like wanting a car and thinking “luxury” in their mind’s eye. After going to the showroom they realise they only want to be able to get from A to B, and perhaps choose a cheaper option in an older basic model used car. That is fine and it will probably work, but they will not get the care and attention and after-sales service that a dealer in new cars will give as part of their three or five year guarantee.

I get prospects like that. My firm offers a great all-round service (I would say that, but we do our best to make it true), but if someone wants the basics and is scouting around for the best deal based on price, all they want is their papers filed and no after-care. So I forgive, refer them to a provider of basic services, and warn them against going with the cowboys.

Some people do just want the basics. Maybe that is not what they need and they could do better, but persuading them against their mindset will not result in retaining them as clients for very long.

I forgive the tyre-kickers and send them on their way. What about you?

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School’s out

The last bell

When I was at school, back in the mists of time, even when the last bell rang we could not pack up and leave the classroom until we were dismissed by the teacher. It might be different now of course. However, a desperate rush for the door would not seem to indicate much enthusiasm for the subject we were being taught.

Not far down the road is the main office of a local vocational training centre. At 5pm there is a veritable stream of employees and possibly some students out of the door and down of the road, many lighting cigarettes or on their phones as soon as they step out of the door. I find that very surprising. I would guess that there is not much job satisfaction there if everyone is so eager to get away, but it seems these people are not alone. The Cabinet Office has apparently found that there is a huge variation in job satisfaction.

Getting satisfaction

Of course I am not surprised that those in authority have more satisfaction than those that do not, and clergy as top dogs work mainly at their discretion, helping people, which must be rewarding. However, farmers come pretty high despite lower incomes, and I suspect that is not so much because they are in charge of others, but because they are actually self-employed and more in control of their own destinies unless weather takes its toll.

We small business owners do have a considerable advantage in having job satisfaction, don’t we? We make our own decisions, do not have reason to resent the boss (unless we really hate ourselves), take time off when we decide to, and should anyway be running a business we enjoy.

I did not originally choose to start my own businesses, but I am so glad that it happened. After all, as referenced in the BBC article, while we should make good profits, our social well-being and life satisfaction are the main elements in being happy in our work. That stems from our independence rather than dependence on less considerate employers. Aren’t we lucky?

Here’s not looking at you

Even walking down the street, there are people with whom we have a connection. We exchange glances and we smile. We smile about the weather, their child, our dog, the shop window we peer through. We recognise those we pass as individuals and we even form a vague impression as to what sort of people they are, even if we cannot know.

Then there are other people with whom we cannot have a connection. They avoid our smile and look away. They may have headphones plugged into their ears. They may be looking at their phones, so risk bumping into us or the nearest lamppost or road sign. They hardly know we are there. They do not acknowledge our existence, even fleetingly, to avoid bumping into us.

Small business owners must realise that our clients and prospects are a bit like that. To me, clients are far more valuable if they engage with us and see us as welcome allies to be valued. We do not need to work for those who do not extend us a welcome or common courtesy. Have you ever visited a customer or prospect who does not even switch off the TV, or even mute the sound? I have, and I do not want that sort of client who is rude, does not know any better, does not see me as an individual and does not think of his guest.

Clients who engage with us and are prepared to have a proper business relationship are the clients I want. I will make sure my business does the very best for them, for they are our referrers and advocates, and therefore our unpaid marketers. If we like our clients that much, we will recommend them to others too.

You cannot beat having genuine relationships in the course of business, can you?