If you are a small business owner or a contract worker, chances are you have felt the punch of the stalled economy right where it hurts the most – the wallet.
I know that in my business, projects have dropped drastically. Though I continue to market, and network and advertise as I did prior to this year, I’m seeing more and more that people are holding back on hiring someone right now.
Business is slow. I’ve been questioning lately how to turn that around. I do know from interviews I’ve done that people are starting to talk about opening new companies again. This had seemed to stop for a while, but the chatter is there, and I do see some action as well.
In the meantime, though, those of us who rely on selling a service to others – especially if there are many other service people out there – are having a tough time.
Think about it: how many different landscaping companies do you see driving around your neighborhood this summer? Each company needs customers – how are they attracting new customers when the competition is so fierce and the economy at such a standstill that many are renegotiating what is really important to pay for and what can be done on their own (as we have done this year, doing away with the landscaper altogether to save a few hundred dollars each month).
Times are tough for contract workers and small business owners, so what can we do to attract new clients? Do we need to lower our fees? Market ourselves harder? Offer incentives for signing up with our company over the competition?
How do we not only put ourselves out there as a potential business to consider but actually catch the client
Andy McClure, owner of Sherpa Business Development, a company designed to help businesses get ahead, says, “To combat the scarcity and pricing pressures I have spent time teaching my clients that each customer relationship MUST be treated as a lifelong endeavor.”
One question I have had lately has been about lowering prices. After all, how do you compete with a million other companies if everything else is the same – product, time frame – but price? When clients and customers are looking to save a dollar or two here and there, do we need to consider lowering our prices to gain new customers?
McClure says maybe – but that you should be getting value in return. “When a business owner considers the potential Lifetime Customer Value of gaining that new client, they will realize that they can afford to discount if they have a follow up plan that will nurture that relationship to gain repeat business and introductions to others.”
McClure adds that a business person may offer a plan – lower fees for referrals and testimonials by the client if the work is done well. This gives the client something of a break when it comes to payment and it gives the business owner potential future business as well.