Follow in the footsteps

It wasn’t a planned stay, we happened to react to an invitation – perhaps because we were at the right place/right time, we were available. Our hosts here in Broome were planning on a 4500km road trip next morning to Brisbane and were looking for a house-sitter:

“Here you go Charlie, take the keys. Look after the house for us. The spare car is yours and the ‘cold ones, are in the fridge!”

Next morning, at dawn Gail and Rob disappeared Eastbound. I can vividly remember standing on the drive … ‘next time.’

Broome lies 1500km North of Perth, has a residential population of around 15k, swelling to three times that during the Tourist season of which we were the latest two. After a couple of days we’d had enough of the beach life and the understated hospitality when dear wife decided that now was a good time to apply a little ‘retail therapy.’

The local Mall, accompanying traders and souvenir shops had been assessed and quickly dismissed as ‘nothing special’ and as we put the feet up and away from the afternoon sunshine plans were being laid for an alternative ‘therapy.’

Then a voice from the other side of the fence …

‘You need to visit Maeve. Maeve and Dave, just down the road!’

Our ‘neighbour’ had overheard our conversation and suggested there may be a suitable spot to visit, ‘just down the road.’

Helpful she thought. Nosey I’d suggested. So with about 40 minutes drive in mind, we made plans for the next excursion.

We set off early, the mercury was at 30 degrees celsius and climbing with the only obstacles anticipated being a diversion past the local crocodile ‘refuge’ and the mandatory hostile farmer … we eventually found our way.

More a homestead than a retail destination I climbed out of the car and proceeded to assist Mrs K … just as baying hounds were heard and observed, galloping single-mindedly straight toward us.

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With much fuss we soon found out these hounds were more a welcome party as we were soon introduced to Dave, perched high on the veranda with a big smile and a very welcome ‘cold one’ already on offer.

My wife continued through the door and was immediately browsing. ‘This is nice ..’

‘Be with you in just a minute ..’ came a voice.

‘That’d be Maeve?’ I asked.

It was some ten minutes before Maeve appeared, by which time Dave and I were indulging a second ‘glass.’ Sue and Maeve had themselves struck up an understanding over a favoured Chardonnay and I clearly noticed that dear wife had now progressed from ‘browsing’ to ‘selecting.’

We spent time with the lovely Maeve and Dave. Sue was happy and as we proceeded to move toward our ‘wheels’ I couldn’t help but ask …

‘How did you manage to have the dogs offer such a unique welcome?’

To which Maeve replied:

‘Our dogs know that customers keep them fed. Our dogs offer a welcome to each car and guide them to the house … in exchange for their favoured snack of the day of course.’

‘Nice touch.’ I thought to myself.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to Broome and couldn’t help but discuss what we’d experienced.

Maeve and Dave had moved out of the ‘city centre’ some years before. Their aim was to provide a service that offered more. A customer ‘journey’ – literally.

Not budget. More exclusive with ‘bells on’ and with the added value. The offer is quality, it’s unique and it’s hand-in-hand with exceptional customer service together with their own ready made referral source …

‘you need to visit Maeve …’  I recalled

Personal recommendation. Nothing beats it.

Some weeks passed when Sue and I returned home from our visit to West Australia.

The usual post covered the hallway and amongst it all I noticed a postcard. It was from Maeve and it read:

Dear Sue and Charlie …

Thank you for coming to visit, we really appreciated your custom, lovely to meet you.”

regards Maeve, Dave.

To understand where we should position ourselves in business we need to observe. Observe what it may be our customers really want and work out how we can provide this.

Follow in the footsteps of our potential customers, then ask:

Can we confidently refer our own business?

Pre-sales over espresso?

Deirdre and I were enjoying our ‘one to one’ over a great espresso – right after our network Forum when suddenly she came out with a statement that took me back a little …

“I really do need to start getting some orders out of the group soon; I need to make it pay.”

I hadn’t seen this side of Deirdre before. I mean, we’re all working hard (to work smart) in cultivating the business aren’t we? For some of us we simply needed to ‘try the different angle’ I replied.

So we chatted and I suggested to her that if she stays true to herself, supports her group and continues to offer help when required – and of course take any additional exposure offered, all things being true, the reward for all the effort would be plain to see.

“I hear you, I just need to start picking up referrals otherwise it’s not worth my while.’

worth while

‘Not worth my while?’ I poured more coffee.

It’s times like these that bring a certain salience to the purposes of network relations. I couldn’t help myself; I had to ask what was her while worth? What was the number?

I’d made my own calculations. We don’t ‘pay’ a member fee, there is no training programme to support and neither do we have a compulsory promotions strategy. The only numbers were the lunch and the time spent away from the office …

OK, I know I’m biased. Networking has been a great support for my own business and I do understand that some who inhabit ‘network-land’ need to be claiming reward for their ‘relationship building time’ and efforts spending their ‘worth’ but I really don’t ‘get’ the time limit for referral when the bigger picture is there to see. We know it takes time to gain the confidence of others so that when I introduce Deirdre to Dear Fred who introduces her to Joe Bloggs who happens to need a whole host of regular purchases … then of course there are the other outlets they may have …etc.

Sure, the ‘hunter’ sales mentality is still around; it has to be for some like Deirdre who inhabit ‘sales’ or ‘account management.’ For me this won’t change until the ‘culture’ of the organisation itself evolves.

These days it’s so much easier to buy much of what you want, at the price you want when you want online and the ‘hard sell’ just does not form part of the culture.

We need to give more time, give our audience reasons to engage us, to learn and understand our offer. ‘Pre-sales service’ plays a much greater role than many realise and even though it wasn’t working with Deirdre’s company, I’m sure many ‘savvy’ businesses are beginning to see the light.