Tag Archives: Customer Service

Do-Over #2: Diversify, Market & Serve Customers Sooner Than Later!

When business is steady with lots of bidding opportunities coming your way, it’s easy to keep busy working for a limited number of customers doing the same type of projects. This business model works during a good economy. Once you establish a few repeat customers, they continue to feed you work to bid on. You don’t have to go out and find new customers. You don’t have to market or sell. You don’t need an updated brochure or impressive website. And you don’t have to have a customer service or follow-up program. Work is easy to get: wait for the phone to ring, pick up a set of plans, and go bid the job. If you bid enough, you’ll get your share.

The second most popular “Do-Over” I hear from seasoned business owners is they wish they would have built up a broader base of customers, worked on many different type of projects, and developed a solid marketing and referral program that delivered diversified types of profitable work. Today I hear sad stories of underground contractors who kept very busy only doing private housing tracts for a few homebuilders. I also hear similar stories from contractors who didn’t want to mess with government jobs because of all the added paperwork. And I hear stories from companies who didn’t add any extra services like green technology, design-build, post construction services, or maintenance to attract and keep customers. These companies are now left without any customers. Continue reading

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Where are you headed?

Are you really ready to hit your goals, earn more, work less, and live the life you want? It would be crazy to board an airplane without a flight plan or destination. Or try to swim upstream in a rapid rushing river. Or drive a car blindfolded. But this is how most business owners run their companies. They don’t have a specific destination or road map to get where they want to go. They work as hard and as fast as they can trying to make headway against all odds. And they don’t know where they’re going. This causes frustration for the owner, managers, and employees who try to fly faster, make a lot of waves, and go around in circles.

You know what you need? You need something to shoot for. You need a goal. Here’s a goal you have been striving to reach for years: Keep doing more! When you keep doing more, you stay busy and never run out of things to do. That’s like being capsized in the middle of the ocean aboard a small rescue dinghy and the captain keeps yelling: ‘Paddle faster!’ Never mind where you’re going. Never mind if you’ll ever reach land. Just paddle faster until you run out of food, water, or energy. And then you’ll die worn out, tired, and broke.

Why do you need specific direction? In order to achieve the results you want, you must know where you are going and why.

“If you don’t have specific written targets and goals,
you’ll never have to admit you’re a failure!”

You can continue living the lie, staying busy, and offering excuses about your progress. You’ve heard all the excuses: ‘It’s the economy, bad employees, lousy customers, cheap competition, or some other problem out of your control.’ Or you can decide to stop making excuses and do something about your condition and future priorities and plans. In order to get your business to work, earn more, work less, and live the life you want, what will you have to do to improve your:

– Sales Volume
– Profit Margin
– Market Share
– Cash-flow
– Wealth
– Effectiveness

To achieve your targets and goals, you will have to make major changes how you do business and strive to be the best in your market. At FedEx, flawless service is the NORM, not the goal or the exception. Walmart expects NO mistakes from its suppliers! If their suppliers don’t make it easier for Walmart, they go elsewhere! To be the best, you’ll have to improve your company operations, systems, management, administration, employees, estimating, pricing, marketing, sales, and service. Take a hard look at how your company is doing at your sales, profit margin, market share, cash-flow, wealth, and effectiveness. Do you, your managers, or employees specifically know? What numbers are they aiming at? Numbers tell you how well you’re doing. You will need a new set of measurable standards to see if you are improving, on track, and headed towards being the best in your class.

“Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.”

Have you ever noticed that successful people who have their lives in order are also more active, involved, and generous with charity, church, and volunteer organizations? They find time to make giving a top priority in their lives. The fact is your success is an outcome of how much you do for others. Your deeds have lasting impact, not your stuff, power, position or busy schedule. Successful people make more time to serve others. Becoming a success is directly proportional to what you give. It’s a fine line—some people give to get—but that won’t work for most.

What you get is a RESULT of what you give!
I receive an overwhelming return on my investment every time I give my time, talent, and money. Giving is the outward expression of your inner commitment, character, and dedication. There is a direct conduit between your heart and your wallet. A banker once told me that the first line he looks at on a loan applicant’s tax return is “contributions.” He tells me he can usually judge a person’s true integrity and sincerity by looking at that one single entry. People who donate money generously and on a regular basis can be trusted. People who don’t find time or money to give to others are self centered and can’t get everything in life they want. People who don’t give are the only ones who complain about giving. Give giving a try. I guarantee you will get more in return than you ever give.

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is worthwhile.” I built my business with the slogan: “Do a good job for the customer and the money will come.”  Putting others first always works in both business and life. So go out and give, get, and enjoy what you’ve got!

Never Give Customers More Than Promised!

For the past 35 years I have done business with thousands of subcontractors, suppliers, architects, engineers, consultants, attorneys, vendors, and brokers, as well as an untold number of retail outlets and stores. Based on my experience, I have only found a few companies who back their promises with actual results and care about putting the customer first. It’s not difficult to satisfy customers and give them what they want if you focus on a single concept: integrity – doing what you say you’ll do every time. Customers don’t know what to expect when you don’t consistently deliver what you promise. The old business motto to under-promise and over-deliver is a flawed concept that creates confusion and a lack of trust and with customers. Under this motto, customers ask themselves: “Is their promise the actual date they will perform?” “Did they under-promise to give themselves some leeway in their commitment?” “When will they really deliver?” “Are they telling the truth?” “What’s the real deal?”

Customers just want what you promised and what they paid for. As I have said many times, the number one ingredient to building a profitable business is…

You keep customers by giving them what you promised and committed to deliver. And when you don’t give customers what you promised, you lose them to competitors. And without customers you have no business! So keeping customers is easy: give customers exactly what’s promised.

When you go to a fast food restaurant, you want quick service and competent service. At a casual restaurant, you want fair prices, good food, consistent quality, and a clean facility. When you visit a prime steakhouse, you pay top dollar and want an incredible meal, a great experience, impeccable service, served in a fabulous environment, by the best waiters in town. It’s easy to figure out what you want when you are the customer.

At Wal-mart, customers want the lowest prices but don’t expect the best service. When you use Fed-Ex to deliver a package, you expect to pay more and demand the best service. When you go to Nordstrom to buy a sport coat, you expect to pay a fair price and get great help from competent employees who’ll give you smart advice to make you look the best possible. When you buy Mercedes or BMW, you expect perfect quality and don’t mind paying more for it.

Now think about your business. Put yourself in your customer’s place. As a customer of your business, what would you want and expect?

Excellent Good Average Poor

Service
Scheduling
Pricing
Quality
Customer Experience
Professionalism
Technology
Follow-Up
Communications
Employees

Are you providing what your customers want? Where can you improve? Customers will pay you based on the service they get. If you treat them poorly, they ask for lower prices. If you are average, you get the going rate for your work. If you provide excellent service and quality, you can demand top dollar.

How to Keep Customers Loyal

I received an email from a small service business owner having trouble. He is losing customers when their technicians leave and take customers with them when they quit and go to work for a competitor. He is concerned his marketing and sales plan must not be working, I was puzzled.

Why do his service technicians leave his company and why do they take the service work with them? Perhaps he needs a better employee retention program and a better customer loyalty program. The problem is not with his employees or customers. The problem lies within how he runs his business and prioritizes his time. Keeping customers loyal is simple: go see them on a regular basis, take them to lunch, send them thank you cards, and show them you care about them. They are not your employee’s customers. They belong to your company. Keep them by making customers a top priority. Treat them like you want to keep them instead of just doing the work and sending them an invoice as your thank-you gift. Keeping employees is another simple task. What do you do to motivate, recognize, appreciate, and train your key people? Do you let them into your management decisions and let them feel like they contribute to the success of your company’s future? Do you compensate them based on results and acquiring new customers? Employees leave because their employers don’t give them a reason to stay. Think about your company and what you do to find and keep customers and employees. Perhaps you have to do something different with your time and money to make more money.

Consider one of my workbooks and cd sets for sale on my website entitled: “Sell More Than Price” and “Profit-Driven Leadership”.  This will be a helpful tool when looking to improve customer retention and relationships.