July newsletter – including a guest post from Ian Brodie

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

“Used to be a time when you would pamper me
Used to brag about it all the time
Your friends seem to think that you’re so peachy keen
But my friends say neglect is on your mind…
Who’s right?

What have you done for me lately?”

OK, so Janet Jackson probably wasn’t thinking about client relationships when she sang “What have you done for me lately?”. But the sentiment is just as apt.

Just like with personal relationships, we seem to spend most of our time focusing on “the thrill of the chase” and not enough time paying attention to our partner once we’ve hooked up.

All that effort nurturing a potential client: sending them articles to demonstrate our credibility, inviting them to events and introducing them to useful contacts to build our relationship.

Then they join us as a client and what do they get? A monthly bill and the odd “how are you?” phone call.

Meanwhile we’re off courting the next client.

Howard Feiertag and John Hogan, researching client retention in the hospitality industry discovered that less than 10% of clients are lured away by competitors. And only 14% leave because they’re dissatisfied with your product or service.

But a whopping 68% leave because of perceived apathy by their supplier.

68%!

Of course, the numbers may be different in your business. But I’m betting the number one cause remains the same.

And according to Fred Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect, keeping just 5% more of your existing customers will boost your profits by between 25-100% (largely because the cost and effort involved is just so much less than to win new clients).

So isn’t it time you took a look at what you did to nurture relationships with your existing clients – not just prospects. That you got proactive about how you keep in touch rather than waiting for them to call.

Because the last thing you want them thinking is “What have you done for me lately?”

——-

This article was written by Ian Brodie, a specialist in helping consultants, coaches, lawyers, accountants and other professionals to attract and win more clients. You can read more of Ian’s articles and get access to blogs and webinars here at www.ianbrodie.com

And while we’re in a musical mood…

 Imagine this…


… You’re going along the roads in West Bromwich town centre…you’re a town planner; or a councillor; a retailer; street cleaner; skateboarder; teenager; OAP; banker; teacher; road lights repairman; builder; landlord; shopfitter; fast food seller; busker; lorry driver; bus driver; taxi driver; or small child…


You’d be seeing different things, you’d all be right, but you also wouldn’t be able to see everything, you’re oblivious to others’ prime perspective. And that’s the way it is in business nowadays…


You may recall that I’ve spoken about the transition from the Industrial to the Information Age before – click here. You see, whatever the nature of our work, whatever our age, we’ve all got blinkers – I know my profession has.  And blinkers are debilitating.


But what happens if you take blinkers off? Well, there’s a whole new world out there, one of discovery.

Here’s a quotation from the book ‘Wikinomics – how mass collaboration changes everything’: ‘Companies are beginning to conceive, design, develop and distribute products and services in profoundly new ways. The old notion that you have to attract, develop, and retain the best and brightest inside your corporate boundaries is becoming null. With the costs of collaboration falling precipitously, companies can increasingly source ideas, innovations, and uniquely qualified minds from a vast global pool of talent’.


This represents a major change of perspective! At least it is for those who are noticing it happen. And have the courage to go on the journey.


Also in the book, there’s the story of Goldcorp, a gold-mining company. Its new CEO was very worried about the future of the business, so he instructed his people to find some major new gold deposits, even gave them $5m to do so. They used their old, trusted, techniques, and failed miserably. The business seemed to be going underwater for the last time. In a bold move, he posted the company’s detailed plans of its sites onto the internet – 400 megabytes of its ‘crown jewels’ – he made them available to anyone and everyone, he offered $½m for new deposits found. A big, bold move. It seemed like his final throw of the dice. All manner of people came forward – experts in mathematics, physics, geology, even the military and students – from around the world, and they used a wide range of techniques generally not used in the mining business. Over one hundred potential sites were identified, three quarters of which contained substantial deposits of gold, years were shaved off the exploration time, the company’s valuation soared from 100 million to 9 billion dollars.  You have to admit it’s a pretty decent return on the investment made!


You see traditional business thinking, of innovate, differentiate, and compete by having superior human capital, by focussing on customers, of thinking globally yet acting locally is dying. The world has moved on. The volume and pace of change being driven by customers is such that businesses’ own internal resources simply cannot cope. They’re stuck in the time for money swop trap – their earnings are limited to their own internal resources.


Some sectors such as medicine and IT have embraced collaboration as the new way of doing business in the 21st Century and are changing out of all recognition. Some of the giants of the Industrial Age – yes, even Microsoft who are rooted in the old Industrial Age and recently suffered its first loss – are struggling with the transition. Even direct competitors such as BMW and Honda are working together – they recognise that they’re better and worse than the other at some things, so they get together to harness their strengths for their own and their customers’ benefit. Most Black Country, indeed the vast majority of small UK businesses, remain a long way behind the curve, they’re still wasting time, money, resources using old Industrial Age techniques, trying to go it all alone.


The legal and accountancy professions are even further behind the curve – for them an open doors approach is completely alien. Many are hamstrung by high overheads. They’re not using collaboration for the benefit of their own businesses and they’re missing opportunities by not bringing their clients working closer together in collaboration. Yet many professionals, and their clients, are hurting – they’re putting in an immense amount of effort for the rewards they’re getting. At the very least they could be immensely more successful, productive, innovative, and efficient.


So how do you change this?


The problem is it’s a generational thing. My generation of Baby boomers who are holding the reins of the business world are used to the old ways of doing things. We’re blinkered. We fear taking the blinkers off. We were comfortable under the old corporate and command structure of business because we knew where we and everyone else stood. We struggle with the new technologies our youngsters take for granted. It’s almost as If we’d prefer to retain control of a business model that’s slowly falling apart than risk the crown jewels and innovate. Yet riches await those like the CEO at Goldcorp who embrace new ways of doing things.


The reality is that 20 odd years on from its creation, only now are we starting to discover the real commercial benefits of the internet – its immense power to share, communicate, open up information, create peer groups and create businesses that can truly act globally for minimal capital and virtually no ongoing cost. Pandora’s box is open and it’s not going to close again, ever. Embracing new ways of doing things, harnessing new technologies gives me personally great hope for the future of mankind as a whole – wouldn’t it be great if poverty and some of our worst illnesses were to be eliminated by everyone working far closer together globally? In fact, I think it’s the only way we’re going to get out of this financial mess we’re in. War’s not going to do it this time, the internet will. You see, I think we’re on the cusp of a major change in how the world operates, which should see a fairer distribution of wealth and the benefits of technology. It’s so very, very exciting; I just wish I was twenty years younger.


Here are a few questions for you:
1. Like the experts in Goldcorp, what are you not seeing?
2. What’s your approach to collaboration?
3. What are you really good at that others could be interested in sharing?
4. What are you not so good at or not doing which you can plug using someone else’s skills?
5. Who will bring your clients together to collaborate, if you don’t? How would this affect their relationship with you?
6. If you do bring your clients together, exactly how would you benefit?
7. Someone somewhere out there is willing to give their time and resources to you free or minimal cost. Who is it? What is it they can provide that you really need?


I’m giving a free seminar on the subject of growth through collaboration on 8 August, you can click here to book in.


And if you have any clients who are stuck in the swopping time for money trap, why not bring them along to the West Midlands Cashflow Club on 1 August – click here.

 

Paul Brindley

The 21st century insolvency practitioner

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