When it comes to your business development ethos, are you a giver ... or a biller?

28 Aug 2017

During the first 90 minutes of my holiday the other Saturday I came into direct contact with 2 very different approaches to business development. Although they were ostensibly different businesses - the first was a car hire company the second a campsite - they were both scrapping for a share of the same audience, the endless conveyor belt of tourists passing through Bordeaux airport.

Let's look at the car hire company first.  Despite the fact they were one of maybe 8 or 9 concessions in a row, they made no effort to do anything more than marginally under the minimum.

Every line of their scripted disinterest ended with either a new way to bill me ("and if you do x, we will add y to the bill"), a way to upsell me with more comprehensive insurance cover or an opportunity to persuade me to upgrade (to a car, we soon found out when we got to the car park, that was no bigger than the one we'd booked and stuck with despite the not insignificant price hike).

Their crowning glory - and I'm guessing this is a reaction to the fact today's increasingly fuel-efficient cars no longer allow them to operate their traditional full/empty petrol tank scams - was to tell me I could valet the car totally myself or €15 would be automatically taken off my credit card. Since when was it the hirer's responsibility to clean a car?  Surely that is one of the few privileges of the hire agreement?  What next?  A €1 per millimeter charge for any reduction in the depth of tred on the tyres because I'd had the temerity to drive the thing on the open road?

To say I felt undervalued for my custom would be something of an understatement.

Fast forward 90 minutes and we arrived at the camping site that would be home for the next week.  Like the car hire desk the site was only one of the endless sites that lined all of the local roads, all of which to the untrained eye looked pretty much exactly the same.  Unlike the car hire company the family who owned and ran the site had obviously realised that meant they had to do something to help them stand out and garner a bit of goodwill to make sure that those who happened upon them stayed a little longer and those who'd booked in advance might recommend or return.

There is a well-worn cliché in marketing that the smallest actions have the greatest impact; this was obviously something the owners had picked up on.  Aside from making check-in as easy (non-existent) as possible - appreciated as we'd been on the move since 4am - there was a bottle of wine in the fridge as "a little welcome gift" and a small subtly logo’d box on the kitchen table that held all those things you tend to forget like wipes, scourers, shower stuff and washing up liquid.

Client experience is something the professional services are thankfully working harder and harder to perfect. There is greater choice in the legal and accounting sectors than ever before and an increasingly savvy client base with an increasingly keen eye for added value not to mention a bargain which once combined are the factors driving increasingly promiscuous purchasing behaviours. 

This is why it is absolutely essential you continually look at how you operate and how you treat and reward your clients.

Is your existing model set up like the car hire company, i.e. to bill as much as possible in the short term because you're there and can provide the basic service required.

Or do you operate like the campsite?  Do what's required but are prepared to do a few little extras to make your clients' lives easier and, at the same time, engender the goodwill that retains clients and encourages repeat purchase and possible referrals in the long-term. 

Posted by Douglas  |   0 Comments

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