Neighbor/competitor/family member/friend/postman: “So, how’s work been lately?”
You (business-owner): “Oh, you know. Keeping busy.”
Sound familiar? For business-owners, “keeping busy” has long been a
trusted stock response to polite inquiries about work. It’s taken to be
a good thing, the alternative to not being busy and, thus,
not being profitable—especially now, in the midst of recession. But the
fact is that being busy and being profitable don’t necessarily go hand
in hand. You can be working seventy hours weeks and still be scraping
by while your expenses just keep piling up. It’s a tricky situation.
All businesses want to increase clientele, but is it worth it to have a
hundred clients if you could make the same revenue working fewer hours
with fifty clients? I say no; no, it’s not.
When you’re busier than you are profitable, it usually comes down to
one reason: You’re underselling yourself. You’re giving away a product
or service that people obviously find valuable. And a funny thing
happens at that point: Customers’ perceptions of your product or
service changes. They actually begin to value it less. After all, how difficult can it be to replace the cheapest guy on the block?
I’m not saying that there isn’t a value in, well, value.
There’s a place for sales and discounts, and when incorporated within a
larger sales strategy they can be quite effective in garnering new
business and increasing customer loyalty. But in the end, companies
need to value what they provide. Because in my experience, it’s the
customers who are willing to invest a little more that appreciate
quality work and come back for more.