Are you assisting your competition?

It always astounds me, when in conversation with people, that they are not sure why business is quiet at the moment.  They have been running around town handing out quotes or busy doing jobs at one end of the pipeline and forgetting what’s happening at the other end.  Does this sound familiar?

Without some system in place to capture those contacts when they are made, how can you possibly stay in touch and convert them to a client?

So, are you just grooming your competition by letting them go?

Let me share a story …..

I’ve been seeking a tradesperson to do a job around my house – a sizeable job of painting in the inside – worth a few thousand dollars. I contacted five of them, three of them answer their phone promptly, one goes to message bank. I leave a message to call me back – hopefully within 24 hours. That was 4 days ago – he has totally missed the job now and wondering what the hell went wrong.  The fifth one didn’t answer at all nor had a message service so he was out of the picture.

The other three tradesmen kindly organise a time to come out and do a quote.  I’m pleased now because I’d like three quotes to compare. Two of the tradespersons turn up at the arranged time, the third one turned up a few hours earlier than arranged as it was convenient for him (but didn’t call to see if it was convenient for me). I let him in to do the quote anyway.  All three tradespersons spent up to one hour assessing the home, discussing the job and my preferences and timing etc. They all send through the said quote promptly within 24-36 hours.

Two quotes were within reach of each other, the third one was nearly double the price. From the two quotes that were reasonable, only one rang me a few days later to see if he could book the job in and if I had further questions. He was flexible, courteous and competitive in pricing – and successful in securing the contract with us. Then we get a courteous call one week before the job was due to commence for him to come over for a final discussion, confirm process and colours etc. The job was commenced and completed exactly as he had advised and quoted. Excellent work in fact. Then a follow-up call to ensure we were happy with the job. Impressive because that level of service doesn’t happen very often anymore which saddens me to think how easy it was to just pick up the phone.

But what about the other tradespersons that were not successful? Why were they not successful?
After all, they only needed to keep track of whom they had quoted work for and follow them up. They had already invested an hour of their time (or more) in a site inspection and preparation of the quote. Not to mention the business set up costs that need some return on investment. So indirectly, through their inability to follow up or respond, they actually made the job easier for the successful tradesperson.

This story is just another scenario of those in this world that are still trying to work out ‘what the hell went wrong’ when in fact, it’s because nothing is happening at all.

Had all the tradespersons (and I’m not really picking on them), but if they all had a system in place to follow up, record the potential client’s details and stay in touch, then the competition for the job at stake would have been increased greatly.

I’m not an advocate for hounding the hell out of anyone that has been in contact with you.  There is in fact some clients that are just not a good fit. Generally, that is a priced based decision but it can also be that your product or services are not appropriate. You need to let them go.

Do you manage a CRM program or system for capturing that data on potential clients and reminding yourself to follow up?  Have you some other source of database like a mail list? And do you use it?

I had a conversation with a real estate agent some time ago – he was in a small country town which has now grown astronomically – he was complaining that business was quiet. Previously his clients would buy a house in town, stay for many years and then just automatically come back to him because he was the only agent in town. But along came some competition with a marketing strategy. They had systems in place. They were on top of their game. The new agent contacted everyone in town to introduce himself and then stayed in touch, listened to them and basically got himself out there so others would know he was open for business; a strategy that has paid off handsomely.  Consequently, there are now a couple of agents in that town and the original agent has closed his doors. He is probably still wondering ‘what the hell happened’. He was too complacent and only reactive to inquiries instead of actively seeking inquiries through marketing himself.

The other amazing opportunity that is too often lost to the competition is when you are not maintaining any further communication after the job and leaving your database idle.

At a recent meeting with a new client, where each contract is worth in excess of $20,000, he admitted that he had failed to stay in touch but rather just hoping and wishing that that type of contact would come back to him again.  It takes 7 times more time, money and effort to find a new client than it does to keep an existing client warm for the next opportunity. So why don’t we do it?

With so many platforms available today to enable us to stay in touch, it should be part of any business systems today. Marketing is not something you do when business is quiet. Marketing is not something you do when all other tasks are done. It needs constant commitment and constant work.

If you are time-poor, then consider outsourcing your marketing so you can stay focused on your business.