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Wine and Olive Tapas

You can wine them and dine them, but it is going to cost you.

For the small consulting firm and independent consultants, building strong customer loyalty can make or break your business. Weak customer loyalty, at the very least, will make the struggle to keep your sales pipeline full a lot more difficult.  Strong customer loyalty will provide dividends for years to come.  Some of the common approaches to loyalty building are:

  • Wine and dine (or lunch and brunch) your clients
  • Provide outstanding service
  • Be professional

Spoiling your clients with good meals and drinks is fun for all involved, but I do not recommend this as a general rule. There are too many ways for this to go wrong: company policy violations (improper gifts), setting a precedent for future dealings, liability concerns, and the risk of being the next big thing on YouTube.  Reserve this for post-go live celebrations, if you must.  Providing outstanding service is an obvious choice and professionalism speaks for itself, though the monetary value of either is difficult to quantify.

I have found one method that is not as obvious, but is absolutely effective and profitable: adopt your client’s vision, mission, and culture.  There are three steps to doing it right, which I term the RDI MethodReconnaissance, Disguise, and Integration.

Step 1: Reconnaissance:  [continue reading…]

Unknown American Mountain

Your remote worker is somewhere in this picture.

An interesting article from Harvard Business Review arrived in my email this morning that I want to share:

Why Remote Workers Are More (Yes, More) Engaged.

Two points that stand out to me are:

  • Absence makes people try harder to connect
  • Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools

I agree with Mr. Edinger for the most part, but one point that he omits is the perspective of the remote worker.  [continue reading…]

Arby's Roast Beef SignWhat does a fast food restaurant and IT consulting have in common?  They are both businesses that rely on face to face communications and relationship building to help create loyalty and repeat business.  What can we learn from Arby’s that can help improve our relationships with customers?  And why Arby’s in particular?  Isn’t Arby’s just a fast food chain?  That is what I thought, until I started noticing something very strange and exciting when visiting two Arby’s restaurants.

In 2010, I was working with a client in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  One of the most convenient eating establishments was Arby’s and I would eat there every two weeks or so.  I had the most unusual experience when I would visit; the order taker/cashier, Pearl, kept a pom-pom next to her register and waved it every time she greeted a new customer, always with a cheerful hello and a big smile.  The cheerfulness was contagious, and the restaurant was a very popular lunch spot.  I could not help smiling every time I visited.  Aside from the general nice feeling, the other thing that struck me was that they asked for my name.  When my food was ready, it was served to me by name.  [continue reading…]