Unless your product or service is one-of-a-kind, you've got competition. To beat them, you have to make sure you're the key company, the one your customers turn to above all others. How do you do that if you're new and small? Try these strategies:
- Use your size. You're new, small and aggressive. Be more flexible than your competitors. Be willing to break self-imposed rules. ("We need 24 hours to fill large orders.") Promise personal attention--since you are the company, this shouldn't be difficult.
- Service. Serve the customer above everything else. In the overwhelming majority of cases, service, not price, makes the difference in getting an order and keeping a client for the long term.
- Stay in touch. In an age when even the smallest business can have cell phones, pagers, voice mail, fax machines and e-mail, there's no excuse for not being on call for your customers. That doesn't mean you can't have a life. It just means you can respond to inquiries with little delay.
- Sacrifice. Take the occasional hit on profit, lose a little sleep, do a little more without always sending an invoice. If you help a customer once or twice without looking for a check in return, you'll be remembered. When it comes time for that customer to place the next order, you'll undoubtedly top the list.
Errands by Evans, (626) 355-9193, KThomas@mail.unihealth.org