Jacky Leonard's blog

Too much business?

Categories:  Business Coaching, Being on purpose

"Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity."

H. Jackson Browne, Jnr

It appears many small businesses owners and sole traders don’t need new business.  I make that statement on the back of my personal experience and from information received via friends and colleagues.  Frankly I’m flabbergasted at the number of businesses that fail to follow a hot lead.  Don’t they know how difficult and costly it can be to find new customers?  Why would you bother to invest in promoting your services if you have no intention of following through?

Recently, I wanted a few jobs done around the house so I checked out the local directory and asked for recommendations from people within my online network. I called 9 local business to request quotes for the various jobs, some from the local directory others via referrals. I got through to them all, we exchange information on the phone and I was booked in for an appointment.  They each dutifully arrive, 7 of the 9 even turn up at the agreed time; then after a short assessment of the work, they promise to send a text or email within a few days and yet 6 out of 9 never get back to me...even after I call to chase the quote. 

Now there could be a number of reasons for this including:

  • The recession is over and they have too much work...is there such a thing?
  • They didn't like me (hard to believe I know), although even if this was the case I'm not sure why it matters in this case
  • They've stopped trading...this would not be surprising given their lack of response
  • They can't be bothered - good old apathy

One thing is certain if you fail to follow through with a customer who has already identified a need, shortlisted you to help fulfil their requirements and given you an opportunity to quote, you miss the opportunity to convert a red hot lead. Now, I can understand if you decide not to quote, I've done this myself because I don't believe I'm a good fit for the client, but even then I’ve made courtesy call to explain.  To come out to see a prospect and not follow through is simply barking mad and a waste of time for you and the prospective customer.

With businesses going to the wall, often due to an inability to anticipate customer needs, offer innovative solutions and stay ahead of their competitors, can SME's afford to be so blasé?  Customers are not easy to come by and often expensive to acquire; can you really afford to pass them by when they make a direct approach to you?

One thing is for sure, if at some time in the future I have more work on offer, I won't be contacting them and will certainly not recommend them to my network of friends, family and business contacts.

It's been a lesson for me. I've began re-evaluating how I interact with prospects in terms of response times to calls, enquiries and requests. If, like me this has made you think about how you do business, give yourself a pat on the back, because complacency will send you down the road to ruin.