I was chatting with an old friend this morning, to find out how he was doing after so many months of lockdown, and we discussed his business, how customer buying habits had changed, and how hard it was to get basic jobs done by service companies.
He said: ‘It’s been the year of excuses!’
Which gave me the subject of this blog and podcast.
Now, this is in no way meant as a criticism of the severe issues some businesses have had in servicing customers, or staying afloat in these troubled times, but I think there’s a really important point to be made, and almost no one is making it, as we start to come out of lockdown.
- This has been the year of excuses: some of them valid, some not so.
- The customer has been willing to be patient as these have clearly been unusual circumstances.
But, and this is the important point:
- Customers will very quickly get fed up with businesses that don’t raise their game dramatically as we come out of lockdown.
- Customer euphoria at being able to do more and get out a bit, will quickly fade, and the honeymoon period of restart will soon be just a memory.
It seems incredible to me that so few people are saying this: it’s almost ‘politically incorrect’ to do so!
But I’m not interested in political correctness.
I’m only interested in helping leaders of independent businesses grow consistently, reduce unnecessary stress and make more money.
And it strikes me that the next 6 months are the opportunity of a lifetime!
Customers will be desperate to get out, and to start interacting with local and independent businesses. We’re all fed up with Amazon and the like, and we recognise the importance and joy of good independent businesses!
So, this restart gives these businesses a magical opportunity to get and keep hordes of new customers.
The problem is that all the talk seems to be of ‘getting’ them … and there’s very little about how to keep them.
But it’s common sense surely to focus on how we’re going to KEEP them BEFORE we focus on how to get more of them: anything else is wasteful at best and suicidal at worst!
So my tips are: Be different and better:
- Don’t focus on grabbing all the profits you can for a few months: focus instead on how you can tie elastic and velcro to every single customer you deal with … for huge success over the long term.
- Don’t think obsessively about marketing and how to get new customers at the restart: focus instead on systems to keep going the extra inch with your people, your systems and your customers, so, over the long term your business will grow and grow.
- Don’t panic and be sucked in by all the hype. Spend a lot of time honing your values and your processes up front and make sure everyone in your team knows why you’re doing what you’re doing (your ‘customer focused mission’), how their role makes this happen (the ‘customers real needs’), how they’re going to be held accountable to this, and how they can keep going the extra inch.
Then you can watch the magic happen not just over the next six months, but over the next decade!
And if you’re really serious about getting it right, perhaps even consider having a coach (trained in ‘Slow Selling’ of course!) to help keep you on the straight and narrow as you go …
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