Last week while speaking with a prospective new client, towards the end of the conversation she said something that caused me to pause in the middle of my sentence. I had been explaining to her the process of how I performed editing/ghostwriting and my general business practices when she said, "œWow! It sounds as if you"™re a very honest and ethical person!"
After digesting what she"™d just said, I responded, "œWell"¦ isn"™t that the way that everyone should conduct business?" to which she responded, "œNo, unfortunately, not everyone is as upfront as you are."
Later that afternoon as I was winding down for the day, I started reflecting on the words she"™d said to me, hence the reason behind this posting.
How are YOU showing up in YOUR business?
I am a solopreneur, so I get to wear all the hats in the running of my business. Yes, I"™ve contracted out the tasks that I don"™t particularly like doing, like accounting, (thank goodness for my long-time buddy and number-cruncher, Sandra Drisdelle), and anything that has to do with the back-end working of my website, (Jef Keep, I am SO glad you"™re my best "˜virtual"™ friend), but all of the business decisions fall on my shoulders. It"™s me who must take full responsibility for securing new clients, ensuring that my existing customer workload is performed on time and correct the first time round, and generally making sure that my business continues to thrive.
I only have so many hours in a day in which to activate my three working brain cells to produce stellar copy, or magnificently manipulate syllables and syntaxes in manuscripts. I really don"™t have a lot of time to waste, so I tend to be "˜up front"™ and "˜out loud"™ as the saying goes with all my clients.
Let me explain where the honesty part comes into play with me. If a client asks me to do something that is out of my realm of expertise, I politely tell them that I"™m afraid I can"™t help them, but I do offer names of other qualified people who might be able to assist them. What do you think would happen to my reputation of being expedient if I said, "œSure, I"™ll take care of that for you!" and then had to spend 5 hours of billable time, wasting my clients money trying to figure out how to install a widget on a whatcamacallit. Imagine the "˜sticker shock"™ they"™d experience at month"™s end when they received my invoice. Can you say "œOuch?!" Can you also say "œGoodbye client?"
Let me give you another quick example. I"™m often asked to give estimates on how long it will take to edit a full manuscript. I usually ask authors to send me a sample chapter (which I edit for free) and then try to calculate how many hours it will take to whip their musings into shape. However, (here comes what I refer to as the "˜honesty +integrity cocktail"™) I always tell them upfront that I cannot guarantee the number of questimated hours as chapters often differ in a book, then I offer to give them periodic progress reports so they"™ll know how many hours of time I"™ve used at any given time. This way there are no hidden costs, I"™ve reduced my client"™s level of worry about billing, and I make doubly sure I keep in constant contact with them throughout the process. A happy client equals a very happy Marlene.
So, how do you run your business? Do you make an effort to inform new clients of exactly how you operate, or do you "˜assume"™ that they should feel privileged just to have you as a supplier or service provider and not question your business practices? Do you over-promise and under deliver instead of the other way around? Or are you still using the sales pitch mantra of the "˜70s"™, the "˜BBB"™ method? You know, the good old "˜Bulls%*t Baffles Brains"™ theory? (Good luck with that!)
I"™m known for not having much of a "˜filter"™ between what I think and what I say, and for me that works just dandy. I definitely "˜walk my talk"™ and when I make a promise, I do my utmost to keep it. I learned a long, long time ago that it"™s easier, safer, and so much less stress-inducing to be upfront about what I can or cannot do for my clients.
Ask yourself this week if there are certain new practices that you can implement into YOUR business to create winning partnerships with your clients. Try adding larges doses of honesty mixed liberally with integrity into your client relationships. Perhaps, like me, some of your favorite customers just may also become a few of your absolute best friends!