Most small businesses will go above and beyond to do a great job for their clients. You won't have too look far for a small business owner who's going the extra mile - be it ensuring that the meal you had was up to par, the work that was done on the house was done to specifications, or that your taxes were done correctly and you got the refund you deserve.
The truth is, they oftentimes have to. In order to "rise above" the bigger competition, small businesses have long had to rely on personal service and a more catered approach with clients in order to keep them happy, and paying over a longer period of time. They should be applauded for that, but sometimes small business owners aren't selfish enough when asking for customers to also go above and beyond in recognizing good work. It's probably rare to see someone pay more than the bill, even if the work was exceptional, but that doesn't mean a customer can't take steps after the work is done to show appreciation.
This week I had the pleasure of doing business with two young brothers that set out seven years ago to start their own landscaping company. Since then they have expanded and succeeded, and delivered far ahead of expectations with the project they did for me. In speaking with them and asking what I could do for them afterwards, a few things popped up. Personally, I'm going to do all of them, because I think a job well done should always be recognized.
But as a small business owner, these are the things you should "ask for" when the moment is right and you feel you've done a great job for your client:
"Tell your friends about us:" Referrals are always going to be the biggest reward for any small business, so encourage customers to spread the word. Sometimes people can be wary of "recommending" someone else, but chances are if the job was well done, customers will go out of their way to tell friends about it. And with a referral, everyone wins. The person doing the referring helps the small business succeed, the small business always appreciates it and continues to work hard, and the friend won't have to go through the hassle of doing their own research to find someone to work with. Referrals make the small business world go round.
"Leave us a good review on Google:" If you haven't noticed, Google Local listings are becoming more and more important for small businesses. When someone does a local search, local results pop up first, and those with reviews always have a better chance at succeeding. If your business has already claimed their Google Local profile, having customers leave a good review is almost as good as an in-person referral. Millions of people click on reviews when doing a search to verify the information and ensure that the vendor they are working with is sound. So by adding to the "hopefully" growing list of reviews, the chances you get selected over someone else increase.
"Like us on Facebook:" Of course this assumes a business has a Facebook page, but even if one doesn't, action taken on Facebook can help influence future purchase decisions. Since Facebook is the ultimate "friend" network, information on it will always be seen. If a customer mentions that they had a good experience with your business, chances are their friends are going to see it, and hopefully want to do business with you. As an example of the power of Facebook, I'm going to upload the pictures of the before and after of my recent yardwork, tag it with the company's Facebook page and post it next week. Not only will my friends be able to see the great job the business did, but they then can then tag/share those images with their fans, etc. It's simpler than uploading photos to a website and can increase the eyeballs seeing it rapidly.
"Can we get a quick testimonial?" Since a website is rapidly becoming the most important tool in the marketing tool box, you have to consistently keep it updated. The more "content" you have to do that, the better. Getting a customer to give you a quick one line sentence about the work you did can become a testimonial that is easily be placed on a website. Multiple ones can even be made into it's own page once enough are collected. Reinforcing the work being done with actual clients will always put a business in a better chance to succeed. If you can get some photos of the work you've done to put on your website, all the better. People are always looking for visual reinforcement of good work.
What do you "ask for" as a small business? Have you had success in the past being proactive with your customers?
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email email@example.com.
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.