Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Telephone Connection

Last year, I met with the struggling owners of a weight loss franchise. Things were bad and they were making some hard choices to try and survive. They were cutting their hours to only being open 3 days a week with limited hours. I urged them to keep "the telephone connection".

This advice applies to many, many businesses, but for now let's continue with the weight loss story. To save money, they cut their hours. When a potential client called and they were closed, an answering machine would answer. But think about this from the potential clients perspective. First, it takes a lot of nerve to call a weight loss center and tell a live person, "Hi, I'm fat and I need to loose weight".
But when you get an answering machine, then you have to leave a message with your name and phone number, "Hi, I'm Chris Columbus and I'm fat and my phone number is...." (Yes, I know, the word's "I'm fat" are not spoken, but those are the emotions behind what ever the message is, and that is incredibly hard to admit, let alone leave that kind of message on someones answering machine.

Before I left their office that day, they made arraignments to have the phones forwarded and gained a few more clients in the next couple of weeks.

So, what's the answer? Be Available when your customers need you. This can be done as easily as having the phones forwarded to a managers or owners cell phone after hours. The number of after hour calls will be minimal, but if you are not available, you may never have a chance to help that potential client again. And one client is worth anywhere from 2 to 200 or more additional referral clients.

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