Expert Author Susan Leigh
As a small business owner it's important to be prepared to go the extra mile in business. The self-employed and small business owner can find significant ways to gain an advantage over medium or larger businesses, the big guys who may be tied to a specific range of goods and services, catchment areas or opening hours.
By being flexible and less rigid in their offerings the self-employed and smaller business owner may well be able to provide a more adaptive, tailor-made service to their customers and clients.
Let's look at some tips for going the extra mile and competing with the big guys in business:
- Anticipate your customers' needs. I was impressed the other day when my accountant phoned me to make an appointment to call round and complete my annual tax return. Typically, I hadn't even begun to look at it and, like many people, dread it, often leaving it until the last-minute. I appreciated my accountant being on the ball, giving me the nudge to do something that needed to be done, and sooner rather than later. Personal service like this, anticipating what needs to be done via a familiar, recognised point of contact establishes good relationships with your clients and customers.
- Say 'no' if something is not within your area of expertise. It takes courage to decline business but it demonstrates integrity and respect for your own reputation and your customer's needs to be prepared to say 'no' to work that you cannot do to a satisfactory standard. Going the extra mile means staying true to your promise to do the best you can for your clients. If you take on work and then have to try to bluff your way through it can cause frustration and resentment in both you and your client as you both want the delivery of your usual high level of customer service.
- Be willing to recommend customers and clients to other businesses and providers who may, in certain circumstances, be able to deliver a better quality job than you. Going the extra mile means being committed to consistently providing the best workmanship by whatever means. Doing this enables you to establish yourself as a person of character and integrity. Bringing other businesses on board may result in you cultivating relationships and being able to deliver a wider range of good and services, enabling you all to grow and become more successful.
- Provide freebies. Providing quality literature, workshops, seminars and networking opportunities allows you to keep in regular touch with your customers and clients, introduce them to any new innovations and changes in your business and educate them about your industry. You establish yourself as an expert, someone who's generous and supportive of your customers, who's prepared to go the extra mile.
- Introduce your customers and clients to each other if you think there's an opportunity for them to form meaningful business relationships. By supporting your customers to grow and become more successful you help them to strengthen and improve their businesses; you all benefit as a consequence.
- Be honest if things go wrong or if you've made a mistake. Most people accept that mistakes happen occasionally. Being honest about what's happened allows your customers to plan or make adjustments if necessary. Equally, be open and honest about timings, deadlines and costs. It lets your customers know what to expect, what they're dealing with and as such, plan around it. Again, integrity, honesty and mutual respect are important when you're going the extra mile in business.
Thinking outside the box, anticipating your customers needs, being prepared to deliver exemplary customer service can set you apart from your competition and ensure that your customers continue to seek you out. Going that extra mile maintains your excellent reputation and continues to support your business success, even when competing with the big guys.