Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Not To Do When Following Up With Clients

Once in a while, it’s really good to be on the other side of a business deal. It gives you a different perspective and a look at how you should, or should not, deal with your clients.

We had some work to do on our house. After years of contemplation, yes, years, we finally decided to get some estimates.

My husband went to a home show and met two potential contractors.

The first pulled out his appointment book and scheduled a date for an estimate. The second took our number and said he would call to schedule the estimate.

The day of the scheduled estimate, we had a family emergency. I called to cancel the estimate and told the contractor one of us would call to reschedule. The next week, my husband called and rescheduled. Unfortunately, without so much as a phone call, this contractor never showed up for the estimate. As my daughters said, we were stood up. We never heard from him.

The second contractor called and a date for an estimate was scheduled. He showed up at the appointed time. It took about a week but he called and then dropped off the estimate in person.

In the mean time, my husband met the friend of a contractor we had heard of before. We had his name tacked up on the bulletin board in the kitchen but didn’t have his phone number. Now, with the information we needed, we contacted him for an estimate. He, too, came at the appointed time. He said he would fax the estimate to us in a few days. After waiting a week and a half and not receiving the faxed estimate, we contacted the second contractor and awarded him the job.

Just this morning, over 2 weeks later, the third contractor called to ask if we had received the fax. I said no and asked him when he sent it. He told me it was sent almost two weeks ago. When he asked if he could have the number again, so he could send the estimate, I told him we had already awarded it to another contractor and were half way through the project.

It immediately struck me that, if he had called to make sure the fax went through, he may have gotten the job.

Follow up is so important.

In re-reading a section of The Wealthy Freelancer by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia, I found the suggestion to follow-up with a prospect the same day you send a proposal a bit brazen. However, after my experience with this home repair, I am rethinking this position.

Had I been the contractor who had not called to make sure the fax had been received, I would be kicking myself. He may have lost the job simply because he didn’t follow up!

Perhaps follow-up the-day-of is not such a bad idea. It just might net you a project otherwise lost.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Referrals from unlikely places

Every business needs referrals. They often come from satisfied customers raving to a colleague or friend about your service or product. The colleague may have a similar problem and they give you a call.

It's a great way to get new business.

Recently, I received a referral. It wasn't from a colleague. It wasn't from a friend. It was from my daughter. Wow!

Now, a referral coming from a family member isn't unique. What surprised me the most is, my daughter is 14 years old.

I work from home, so both my kids are aware of what I do. I just didn't know they were paying attention enough to spot a potential project and make a referral. But that's exactly what happened.

OK. As a mom, I sure am proud of her. But the point is, referrals can come from anywhere. Share what you do with others around you. You never know where your next referral will come from.

If you have had a referral source that surprised you, please share it below.