To control your time, you must have a System.
Systems should not be created to hamper us with a mind-numbing process but to give us a working day with some structure.
I heard a thought-provoking idea on Twitter: “Follow a Plan, not a mood.” If you don't, you're missing deadlines or opportunities!
Group your customers by size, value, and impact: A, B, C or D.
- The A's are your Advocates: clients who have bought from you will buy again and will recommend you to others. These are your dependables. They're doing business with you right now or soon. They are your bread and butter.
- The B's are not top of your list, but they are potential A's or C's - the next line of potential or actual revenue. You're A and B lists may well represent 80% of your revenue, so to devote appropriate time to them.
- The C's are budding B's or D's. You cannot do without them.
- The D's may be hard work and low yield. They want everything at rock bottom rates and may be late to pay you or need to be prompted several times. They are often the biggest drain on your time. Does this sound familiar?
Once you've established your lists, you can decide how much time you dedicate to each. (No, not all customers should be given the same amount of time and effort!)
Saving time with your D customers: If you had more A or B customers, could you do without the D's completely? We suggest you do a time versus effort review and then do one of two things:
- Suggest to the D customers that through inflation or the fact you haven't increased your rates for X years, their next order will increase by 12% (for example). Then ask yourself if that price makes handling that client and his demands more worthwhile. Or they may walk away.*
- You can offer them a silver, gold or platinumservice. Each offers more and with a 'guaranteed response time' of 24 hours, 3 days, 5 days, etc.. and it escalates in cost. Explain that they are currently effectively taking a gold service but only paying for a silver. Then ask them if they're ready for an upgrade.
*Just make sure he walks away amicably and that he understands that you must increase your tariffs. He could be back later or introduce you to others.
If you are offering a silver, gold or platinum service across the board explain what exactly fits into each price band, you'll soon find that clients realise that you're serious about your pricing and that, if they're paying the Silver rate and want more, there's an upgrade. Simple. So many tradesmen and others get asked, “Would you mind just doing X….?” And the client can get quite shirty if they're charged a supplement. Always make clear what your price does and does not include to give you the chance to uplift them to the next price level if they wish.
Time Savers - Setting up a “Dashboard”
A Dashboard is another way to control your time and effort so that you're concentrating on your most important and critical jobs first. The metaphor works exactly as a car dashboard guides you with speed, temperature, etc.
Colour code Red, Amber or Green to indicate how important an issue is or it may become. Next to the issue, flag the next action, who is responsible and keep you/team on course. Red Issues – are the top priority, Amber – potential issues, Green – stay aware. Review and adjust your dashboard, promoting and relegating tasks daily.
Test your Dashboard on a whiteboard grid or as a spreadsheet, list your critical or most important issues and use them to guide your business. If there are other people in your business, the Dashboard provides you all with one common language – so that each of your team understands delivering on time and highlights all the issues of the day. Even if you're on your own it keeps you on course.
We've mentioned Customer Life-Time value. It's one of the things that businesses forget, that is, for example, they have been a loyal customer (even on and off) for years and you are always their first port of call. Why change your plumber, builder, hairdresser, after all? Why? Because loyalty should be earned not taken as God-given right. The Dashboard keeps you focussed.
Call us to talk it through.