Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Like the popular motel commercial you hear on TV; the question is also applicable to most of our customers who have clients not hundreds of miles away, but sometimes just down the street. Through the prism of over 30 years watching and participating in the Atlanta/Georgia market, we’ve rarely seen a period with so many people as frantically busy as at present.
While we are busy today, there will likely be a time in the not too distant future where business slows down or becomes more competitive. While the number of suppliers has been contracting, that trend will not continue indefinitely. Where there is profit, there is competition. The same goes for subs as well. Each month our Business Facts Report dutifully reports dozens and sometimes hundreds of new companies either being created or moving into our market that are construction centric. Today we have spot shortages; tomorrow there will be surpluses in labor and suppliers.
Those of you old enough to remember the cyclical nature of housing and commercial construction probably also remember how important relationships were. What was true then, is still true today. Ask yourself the question; how well do I know my customers? The answer is usually not well enough. There are myriad ways to meet new prospects and rub elbows with old customers. Whether you have a sales force or not, it is important to reach out on a continuing basis to make your client base feel both appreciated and to have an ear open for what your clients perceive as issues that you can help them with.
Listen to all problems you hear from your clients as an opportunity to move closer to them. It is just not enough to evaluate what you hear as mere grumbling. Instead, realize that perceptions, real or imagined, form the basis for a cognitive mindset by your clients that transcends reality. One of the hardest business lessons to learn is that perception frequently trumps reality. All of us should realize that a negative perception today can lead to a lost customer tomorrow.
So, as to the question, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” the answer is simple. You can never go wrong by maximizing exposure to your customers. Find innovative and effective ways to listen to your clients. The axiom that finding a new customer is many times more costly than keeping an old one is still true. Find the time in your schedule to have face time with that oh so important individual…your customer.