My toyful play with a classic phrase in the title of this post doesn’t actually reflect reality, as far as my life is concerned. I still get to play, but it’s struck me today just how hard we’re having to work to satisfy customers during ‘these <insert recession cliche here> times’.
Deals that would normally have taken one meeting and a couple of weeks of chasing now take three meetings and months of negotiations over price. Existing customers want it all without paying for any of it and, most importantly, the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ has never been held onto so dear.
Of course, I have no problem with the above. Why shouldn’t customers get the most out of their purchases these days? It just fascinates me, the way this recession has taken hold.
There’s no doubt about it, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. Things seem to be changing for the better but I have a feeling the additional work we’re all having to put in just to get the most simple of deals or jobs done will stick around for a long time to come. If not forever.
It also makes me wonder if we were doing something wrong before. Perhaps we were all too lazy? A bit blase, even? Certainly, at my company, we used to always have enough enquiries coming in to deal with. Every department was busy and we turned over a nice profit. Then it all changed. And I can time it. For us, from around February onwards, business changed as we knew it and we had some waking up to do.
We had to become more proactive. We had to seek new opportunities. It’s amazing how proactive you can be when you’ve got a blank order book staring you in the face and very few genuine opportunities in your pot.
I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of months. If your business is struggling, there are no two ways about it – you have to get out there and find opportunities. And this means doing things you perhaps don’t fancy, I’m afraid. Cold calls, both on the phone and via site visits. Scour Google and your competitors website for potential clients. They exist – you just have to sniff them out.
There’s no better time to start than now. With the recession gradually relieving its grip on the economy, both businesses and the public are feeling more confident about spending their money. The difference is that they won’t always be proactive in doing this – you have to tempt them, and you have to work bloody hard to do so.
We have a motto at work at the moment which is quite simply ‘delight customers’. I don’t need to explain what that means, but it’s a key phrase for any business wishing to get through this unscathed.