Monday, January 26, 2015

Educate your clients

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      to help you better manage your small business.

     Clients and customers don't always know the best solution to their problem. They look to you for expert help.

     This is true in many businesses--dentists and therapists, computing and technology experts, landscaping and home remodeling, gift shops and health food stores, gyms and auto repair shops. 

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

     Example: A specialist in home re-modeling brings lots of experience and expertise to that first visit with a customer. I know a home re-modeler who provides much more than free estimates. If it's a kitchen, he sketches out some quick possibilities, asking questions about the 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 house, he reminds the client that the children will be growing up--when they leave, what will be done with this room? If the client plans to sell the home and move on, what types of improvements will add value?

     Educating clients by bringing your knowledge to bear can transform the selling experience. It can turn one job into an on-going relationship. It is the client who will pay the bill, so it's up to the specialist to educate and satisfy the client. 

     More 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 his client what the new garden will look like, using all the computer tools 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 experts in computer technology, networking, social media and all the rest need to educate their small business clients. People in small business frequently 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 what social media can do. People in large corporations understand and use social media. Not so in small business. People in small business need to be educated in the value of social media, how it can help them, how to use it, and what it can mean in growing their business. 

     Make educating your clients a part of your business. It will repay you in many ways, not the least of which is a happy client who will call you again and again--and refer others to you. 

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