This blog will be a little different. I would like to share something that happened and leave it as a cause to think about things in your own business and how you both see and engage with your clientele.
If your business is anything like mine, we thrive on repeat clients and referrals. We rarely accept new clients, so keeping our existing client base is extremely important. Often times, this is more work than earning new clientele by yourself. If you drop the ball with one customer or lose their business for whatever reason, it can have a domino effect in the same way one existing client can bring many other great clients through referrals.
A few weeks ago, a relationship I had with someone took a hit. We had done a lot of work together over a 10-plus-year period and everything was great. A special project was in the works. The legwork was done, but then they went to someone else over a small difference in price. In fact, I had actually offered to match the price because it was small. I had sacrificed a lot to cultivate this relationship and was quite shocked to say the least.
For me, it really got me thinking about loyalty, and fair and unfair expectations of our clients and ourselves. Do we have a right to feel and think this way? We don’t own these people or their cars, and we certainly do not have the right to make decisions for them. However, at the end of the day, we are all human and subject to our emotions and our ego. So, it’s important to both go through the motions, but also observe what’s really bothering us. After all, when you’re dealing with any form of conflict, your perspective is everything.
It is unfair to expect a client to pay more to go to you, unless they absolutely know the quality difference is worth the price. After all, you do get what you pay for. Is it convenience? Is it location?
Reflecting on Relationships
Some things to think about as you navigate relationships in your business:
1. Is it fair to expect the other party to have some loyalty? In this industry, I think it is fair to expect this. The automotive industry is all about relationships.
2. But what is loyalty?
3. Are you giving a “deal” expecting them to show up to your shop the next time they need something?
4. Does your definition of loyalty align with your clients’ definition?
5. Why is your client coming to you? Location, price, quality, etc.
6. Set boundaries for yourself. Anticipate these things and understand that no matter how much your protect yourself, these things will happen.
7. Manage your situations with grace, respect and integrity.
The wonderful thing about business ownership is the endless opportunity to both look within and constantly improve the way you see the world. Without some adversity, we have no way to challenge ourselves and our thinking. The more we improve, the more our business does, too. In the long run, we will be better for it.