Monday, June 9, 2014

Educating clients

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from someone who has been there, done that in several small businesses.

     Clients and customers don't always know the best solution to their problem. The problem that brings them to you opens the door at your place for several possible solutions.

     It's true in many businesses--from dentists to landscapers, from hearing specialists to home re-modelers, from event planners to gift shops to health food stores to plumbers to gyms and more.

     It's up to you to dig beneath the surface, make certain you identify the real problem, and offer solutions that the client/customer will be happy with. The returns are real--the current job, future come-backs, and referrals 

     Example: A specialist in home re-modeling brings experience and expertise to that first visit with a customer. I know a very successful re-modeler who provides much more than free estimates. If it's a kitchen, he sketches out some quick possibilities, asking questions about special needs of the cook--islands for special work, hanging racks for pans, storage for small appliances, etc. If it's an office, he discusses what kinds of work will be done there--placement of lighting and windows, storage cabinets and racks, etc. If children are in the home, he reminds the client that the kids will be growing up--when they leave, what will be done with this room? If the client plans to sell the place and move on, which types of improvements will add value?

     Bringing your knowledge to bear on the situation at hand can transform a selling experience into an on-going relationship with the client. It's the client who will pay the bill, so it behooves the specialist to dig beneath the surface and satisfy the client's needs.

     Other examples: A dentist concentrates on selling smiles, not crowns and fillings. An expert in hearing problems emphasizes his policy that no client pays until 60 days of satisfactory hearing passes. A landscaper shows the client what the new garden will look like, using all the computer tools he has in his handy laptop. Lawyers need to educate clients on the applicable law, but they also need to find ways to help clients do what they want to do--lawfully.

     And small businesses engaged in computer technology, networking, social media and all the rest need to understand that other people in small business do NOT understand what computer people can do for them--they get it when it comes to QuickBooks and TurboTax because they already understand accounting and taxes. But they have little appreciation for social media--Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest. Patience and fundamental education are needed here. 

     After a lifetime in business, I retired when I turned 75. Nowadays, I spend my time writing about small business, coaching and working with people in small business. It's a unique world with problems of its own. You can email me your questions at (put BLOG in the subject line so I don't delete). I answer every email, and I always respect your privacy.    

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