Your Mistake, My Money

The electronic ink flows faster than a western river after the spring melt as small business owners and entrepreneurs discuss how to grow their businesses. How can we get more customers? How can we sell more? How can we get referrals? Here is an idea: do what you said you were going to do and return calls.

Here is a brief and hopefully not too boring example of what has got me stirred up this morning. My house needs a chimney repair. We called one local contractor who visited our home, scribbled a quote with his pencil on the back of a business card (really!) and told us that he really wanted to do the $1,600 job. We called him back to make the appointment. And called. And called again. Tony, where are you?

As I sit writing this, I am waiting for another contractor who committed to a visit during a time window that ended 30 minutes ago. We called this guy from his colorful – and presumably not free – ad in one of those coupon magazines that fill the mailbox. Tick tock, tick tock.

When I get inquiries from potential clients, I always respond right away. There are simple technology tricks to make this possible, solutions like smartphones to get emails and voice-to-text email alerts of office voicemails. Almost always, these people express delighted surprise that I get back to them so quickly because my competitors don’t. They lose, I win. I get paid, they don’t.

Woody Allen famously commented that success is all about showing up. I think he was right. In business, success can come from something as simple: return the call. Show up and win the business, because others have not yet figured this out.

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