How Does a Business Keep Customers Happy?
Although it is hard to generalize, I do think that we can pinpoint a few reasons why some freelance businesses have the “It Factor” and others do not. I suggest that at the top of the list is this:
The best, most successful, most popular self-employed business people do their main job exceptionally well.
These folks know that, while there are all sorts of things that go into the business success equation — having sufficient capital, good locations, exceptional customer service, and so on — the most important thing is that they are great at doing that thing they are hired to do.
If yours is a restaurant, offer great food. If it's a dry cleaner, get the spots out!
The best, most successful, most “popular” self-employed business people do their main job exceptionally well.
Here's a simple, but significant, self-employment example: We have a housekeeper that we love. Now, that is no small thing. My sweet wife is a bit of a clean freak and over the past few years we have had a hard time finding someone worth keeping around.
Then we met Nona.
You can tell when Nona has been to the house — it's sparkling clean, and every nook and cranny has been mopped or scrubbed, shined or cleaned. It's no wonder then that we have recommended her to several of our friends. It's also not surprising that Nona's dance card is full.
Nona is a reminder that people patronize your freelance business because you can perform a service they cannot or do not want to do, or you offer a product they want or need.
If you do that adequately, they may come back, but probably not. If you are good at it, they will likely become your customers. But if you are great at it, they will become your cheerleaders and you will get that all-important buzz.
Creating New Customers After You’ve Gotten the Buzz
You get people to come back time and again, and give you that much desired word-of-mouth-advertising, when you do what it is you are supposed to do exceptionally well. Think about the businesses you like best. I bet there is something they do better than anyone else. That's the ticket.
Consider for instance how many different phone companies you have had over the years. If you are like most people, you have had gone through a few and then settled on one. Why is that?
Undoubtedly, you had a bad experience or two with a couple and vowed never to give them your business again. But equally, you also found one that did what they were supposed to do well; namely, they offered you good phone service at a reasonable price. No hassles, no rip-offs.
Another example: Like many people, I enjoy renting and watching movies with my kids. And some of the movies we like best, that we see again and again, come from Pixar — Toy Story 3, WALL*E, you know, the greats! Has Pixar ever made a bad movie? Not that I can remember. They excel at the one thing they are supposed to be great at: making entertaining movies for children. As a result, they make a lot of money and have a loyal following.
Lesson for the Self-Employed: Be Exceptional
Yes, doing your job exceptionally well seems like a simple concept, and indeed it is, but that does not mean everyone gets it. How many freelance businesses fail to excel at their core function? Far too many. Either they don't get what their real job is, or they spread themselves too thin, or they are too busy focusing on other, less important matters.
Whatever the case, while they might stay in business, they likely won't get far.
The best businesses know what it is they are hired to do and put sufficient energy, effort, resources, and commitment into doing that thing to the very best of their ability.
Self-employment and entrepreneurship is not for sissies. If you're going to do it, better do it right, or you won't be doing it for long.