In a tightening economy, keeping customers (and winning new ones) is more important than ever. It can mean the difference between getting by and going under for good. Now, as never before, you need to listen (and take) this bit of age-old wisdom to heart — “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
In practical terms, what this means for the small business owner…
- DON’T insult a homeowner (or any client for that matter) by pointing out shoddy workmanship in their home or business; but DO focus on what you’re there to do and then bring attention to any problems in a positive way, i.e. “I see you have a (insert problem here) and I’ve seen that a lot. What you might do to fix that is (solution) and I’d be glad to help you out.”
- DON’T ever let customers (or potential ones) see you sweat… lose your temper… or be forced to listen to your personal trials and tribulations (fascinating though they may be), but DO convey a can-do approach, upbeat manner and attitude, even if you have no idea how you’ll manage. You will — hat’s more you’ll have won the confidence and appreciation (not to mention future business) of anyone who sees you.
- DON’T grouse when you lose a job to a competitor, but DO take it as a chance to learn. Always thank the potential customer for their consideration, and ask (politely) for the reason the other company was selected, i.e. “Can you tell my why you made this choice?” Don’t take the answer as a person insult — but as a chance to improve (prices, turnaround, service) and win that next bid.
- DON’T send an angry e-mail (or leave a testy voice mail), but DO write the message down and save it to send the next morning. If you re-read the draft after a good night’s sleep, and change noting, hit SEND or dial away.
- DON’T be all about getting, but DO give back… valuable advice or content sent regularly to customers, volunteering to speak at or teach an adult ed class, or becoming part of a networking group, professional association or another organization where you can have the chance to showcase what you know and get the word out (in a subtle, no pressure way) about you, and your business.
No so hard, is it? Not only will you make countless generations of mothers proud, you’ll be showing customers (and potential ones) that you’re knowledgeable, professional and capable. The more people who know this about you… in tough times and good times… the better for your business.