Customers or Clients?

October 19, 2017 Leave a comment

20 Under 40 20_3My October column for The Kitsap Business Journal/Kitsap Sun

Do you have customers or clients in your business?

This might seem to be a question without distinction. Some readers might think there is no difference between the two. I’d posit that there is a clear difference and that at the end of this column, you’d decide which of the two you want for your business.

We should start off by defining – according to me – the difference between the two. To be clear, one is not better than the other, so this isn’t a judgment. It’s simple defining two types of “buyers.”

A customer is someone that purchases from you without regard to whether there is a long-term relationship required. Professional skills, talents, and differentiation are rarely required for customers. You find customers at grocery stores, donut shops, fast food restaurants, clothing stores, and outlet malls. There might be some loyalty due to ease of access or habit. But overall, if a new product or service came around cheaper or easier, the customer will go elsewhere.

A client demands a relationship based on trust, respect as a peer, expertise, and knowledge. Client relationships are built around the ability to dramatically improve the condition or experience of someone, which results in the client’s loyalty and evangelization of the provider. You often find client relationships with doctors, attorneys, insurance brokers, real estate agents, and IT consultants. However, you can tell from my own personal life that I am a client for the following providers: my barber, my shoe shine guy, my dry cleaners, my regular coffee shop, and my grocery store. There are more but you get my point. The difference between a customer and a client is the level of importance that buyer places on the relationship. Anyone can be a customer, but not everyone can be a client.

Why do I make such a big deal of this? Simple. The more you work off a client based model – including the use of the word client – the more likely it will be that your client does three things: One, will continue to buy your regular products and services; Two, will utilize and become early initiators of new products and services; and Three, proactively send you referrals and become an evangelist for your work. While customers have no emotional attachment outside of price and ease, clients have a strong emotional bond to doing business with you.

Let’s consider two examples, one professional and one retail. Professional: Insurance is marketed in an obnoxious way. For the majority of commercials and national ad campaigns, humor and celebrities are used to entice people to shop with them. The reality is that insurance is vitally important to the ability of individuals and companies to financially survive a calamity. It’s no laughing matter. Customers of insurance companies care nothing about anything other than price. Clients of sophisticated and savvy insurance brokers worry more about losing their agent’s expertise and knowledge to help them overcome adversity than what the bottom line cost is. While price is always a consideration, the truest value is a person.

Second example: Retail: While I use a couple different grocery stores, I’m a customer for all except Central Market in Poulsbo. Why? Because when I go to Central Market, my experience is far better than anywhere else. I acknowledge that I may pay a little more, however I actually enjoy the experience of the store. The variety and diversity of foods, the ability to interact with experts in each of the departments, the smiling faces, and cleanliness of the store exceed what I experience elsewhere. They turned a normal customer experience into a client experience and in return they created an evangelist.

While customers certainly pay the bills, clients add value, wealth and profitable growth to your enterprise. It may sound easy to make this verbal switch, but it requires a mindset not only from you, but your employees. Let’s start with a simple 3-step process:

Step 1: Require that your entire organization refer to the people that fund your business as clients. Define what a client is, why they are so valuable, and how they should be treated. When clients are considered more than a customer, the attention to detail on how they are served changes. Try it and watch!

Step 2: Focus on outcomes, not methodology. Methodology is what you do (e.g. sell insurance and groceries). Outcome is the value clients receive (e.g. peace of mind and a positive experience). When you focus on outcomes, clients keep coming back in!

Step 3: Encourage referrals frequently. In professional services, this is more common. However, any business can utilize social media and other promotions to encourage word of mouth evangelism of you and your company.

BONUS: Thank clients early and often, not just at the time of the sale. There are many ways to express gratitude. Become creative based on your industry and services. The more creative and personal, the more your clients love you and will tell others about why you’re so great.

Bottom line: Every business can easily gain customers, but that is a fleeting and fickle romance. You want to create a long-lasting symbiotic relationship built on tremendous value and respect. So reduce the number of customers you have and increase clients. Your bottom line and your clients will thank you!

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Comfortably Numb

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40This weekend, Barb and I were ordering lunch at a famous marketplace in the International District of Seattle. I’d just placed my order for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with egg and bacon. While I was waiting for my lunch to be prepared, we were in line to order her a Thai lunch that she loves. Then it happened.

The fire alarm went off. It was evident by the ringing and flashing box on the wall labeled “fire alarm.” This place is huge and we, along with hundreds of other customers, simply listened to the blaring alarm as the the light strobe kept going. After what seemed to be about 15 seconds, we were ushered out by employees beseeching us to get out of the building. We all stood mere feet away from a building that potentially could be on fire! Even my lunch order got put on hold as the cooks sheepishly shuffled out into the street. All ended well with the fire department allowing  us back in after a short delay.

I remember vividly in grade school being taught what to do when a fire alarm sounds. You get out. Now. My wife, fellow customers of the market, and myself were basically all numb to the alarm. We’d become too comfortable thinking that it couldn’t be really dangerous. It would soon stop and we could go about our normal business. While fortunately in this case it wasn’t serious, what about the next time?

I suggest we’ve all become comfortably numb (apologies to Roger Waters and the Pink Floyd gang). A fire alarm not immediately heeded is just the tip of the iceberg. How many of us will numbly start our work week today bemoaning the start of a new week; mindlessly repeating tasks from the week before (same old, same old); and “ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, fritter and wast the hour sin an off-hand way…?” (Okay more Pink Floyd…I will stop…maybe)

Many of us are guilty of wasting days by being anxious, stressed, complacent, and maybe worst of all, bored. Regardless of whether we own, manage, or work in a business, each day is rife with opportunity. I got the chance to both hold and simply stare at my beautiful three-week old granddaughter. That time, that moment won’t come again. I soaked in every second of it. While more may be like it; that moment is singular. I’m ready for the next one…

Your moments are singular. Don’t waste them with worry, regret, or boredom. Find a way to embrace the day, honor the struggle, and find opportunity that won’t come this way again. The rinse and repeat with eager abandon.

Quote of the Week:

“Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun…”

~ Pink Floyd – Lyrics from the song, Time

Don’t miss the starting gun.

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Extra Points: Respect Is Your Responsibility

October 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Harvey Weinstein. Fired by his own company’s board of directors for allegations of sexual assault on many women – his employees – with whom he had power over their careers in his hands.

Cam Newton. Lambasted over social media for his callous comments to a female beat writer for his employer, suggesting it was “funny” that she was asking football questions of football players. His embarrassed employer, the Carolina Panthers spent the next couple of days trying to put out that fire.

These are two high profile situations this past week around the topic of discrimination. While the former is certainly more heinous and likely criminal, they both speak to responsibility employers have when dealing with employees and the potential consequences. These two cases made the headlines; the vast majority of them end up hidden inside the walls of small and medium-sized business around the country. These employees damaged by discrimination, harassment and bad behavior don’t get the same press, yet deal with the consequences of it.

Here’s the deal: Discrimination and liability for actions happens to all genders, to all races, to all religions, and to all ages. What your employees say and how they behave around each other is your concern as a leader. I’ve seen situations where lawsuits came up out of the blue and employers literally had no idea because they didn’t see the signs, or even because they were the problem.

Disaster recovery is often thought of as the steps taken by an organization after a devastating fire or natural disaster. Just as deadly to your company’s brand, reputation, and bottom line is a bad culture that doesn’t recognize the rights and respect of its employees. How your company treats, respects, hires, promotes, and manages conflict with your employees is paramount to your ultimate success. For starters, it’s the right thing to do. After that, it’s going to be those companies that create growth and prosperity for themselves and their employees.


Quote of the Week:

”Go after what you really love and find a way to make that work for you, and then you’ll be a happy person.”

~ Tom Petty

I’m so glad Tom Petty took that advice and made music for the last four decades. We never met, yet his music holds a large segment of the soundtrack of my life. Thanks for running down your dream, Mr. Petty…

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help creating an emergency crisis plan for your business or family? Call me and let’s schedule a meeting to talk. The time to act is before you need it. Email me

Shrimp Tank Podcast: Rachel Young

October 3, 2017 Leave a comment

Our last guest on the Seattle Shrimp Tank was Rachel Young of Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes. Rachel’s business took off after her appearance on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Listen to Rachel’s story and learn why her cupcakes are out of this world!

To hear the entire podcast, go to our website.

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: What Legacy Are You Leaving?

October 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Last week, my wife and I were blessed with the addition of our granddaughter, Eleanor Grace. Needless to say, it was one of the best moments in our lives. We couldn’t stop just gazing at her. It’s surreal when your daughter becomes a mother and you gain an addition to your family.

Barb and I have two wonderful daughters that have grow into terrific young adults. As I contemplate the enormity of that simple statement, it becomes clear that one of the redeeming parts of growing older is the genetic and personal legacy you leave. We look at our family and realize our DNA and the people we are live on through our children and grandchildren.

Businesses also leave a legacy. Strong enterprises produce a healthy and content work environment for employees and their families; happy clients that are better off for having worked with them; and a community that benefits from their success. Like parents growing children into strong people and productive citizens, CEOs and company leaders have the task of growing strong company cultures and a legacy of productive enterprise. And also like parents, protecting that legacy becomes a primary objective that involves strategy, implementation, and accountability.

What kind of legacy are you leaving for your company, it’s employees, and your clients?

Quote of the Week:

”It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

~ Frederick Douglass

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help creating an emergency crisis plan for your business or family? Call me and let’s schedule a meeting to talk. The time to act is before you need it. Email me

Extra Points: Be Part of Something Larger

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40This is Part 4 of a four-part series this month in honor of National Preparedness Month. Thank you fore bearing with me this month to ficus on readiness and preparedness. In order to be “unleashed” both personally and professionally, you need to make sure you are able to be resilient when bad things happen as they always will. Today’s’ message is focused on the concept of being part of a something larger than just us

We all share this big planet together. Being a lone wolf is perilous; as Rudyard Kipling taught us, “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”

In order to survive and ultimately thrive out of a calamity, we wolves need to band together and be a resource for each other. The ideas and concepts from the past three weeks need not just suffice for your family and your business. There is great opportunity to share with neighbors (of whom we’ve already discussed); your faith-based organizations; your professional and personal associations (e.g. Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce); your school districts and college campuses; and other groups that you consider as part of your own pack. 

You are encouraged to check out the Ready.gov website that is filled with resources for all your groups. What better way to impact and improve the lives and future conditions of others than to share, participate, and build a stronger pack?

There is also a fabulous program meant to train people to be first responders and help each other. It’s called Until Help Arrives and information can be located here – Learn more.

Final thought: In my life I’ve observed that the greatest and most heroic acts of courage and compassion by humans to other humans have been shown in times of crisis. While that will continue to be the case, let’s also work to try and prevent crisis and be prepared to accelerate recovery and reduce loss of lives. That’s the ultimate wolf pack and truly being unleashed for everyone.

Next week, we resume our regular programming. Thanks for reading!

P.S. Follow me on Facebook. This month, I will be doing a Facebook Live segment on how to pack a “go bag” in case you must evacuate your home and one that you should keep at work in case you get stuck and can’t make it home for days. I’m also posting daily tips on Twitter.

Quote of the Week:

”Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

~ Mark Twain

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help creating an emergency crisis plan for your business or family? Call me and let’s schedule a meeting to talk. The time to act is before you need it. Email me

Extra Points: Practice & Build Out Your Plans

September 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40This is Part 3 of a four-part series this month in honor of National Preparedness Month. While this may not seem to be the sexiest of topics, you need look no further than the wreckage left by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to understand the life and death issues faced by you, your family, and your business.

Week 3 focuses on creating and practicing your plans. This reminds of being a high school basketball coach. Each week, the coaching staff would put together a plan for the two teams we would play that week. We would then focus our practice and preparation on that plan, including very specific situations that would simulate the games. Creating a plan to survive – both in your personal life and for your business – demands the same process.

Step 1 is to actually think about, write, down, and communicate a plan. This step is for both your home and business. You should include things like first aid kit locations, emergency funds access, critical document storage, evacuation planning, and how everyone will communicate. Very few small and medium-sized businesses ever get past Step 1!
If you are a business owner, you have a responsibility to your employees and their families. If you have a family, you have a responsibility to them. Not doing so is negligent and dangerous.

Step 2 is knowing how to access community resources. This means shelters, food banks, and other resources that your local, county, and state emergency management teams have created. I know in my city, City Hall is designated as a community shelter in an emergency. They will provide heat, shelter, and food for those that have had some impact and are vulnerable. Do you know where your emergency shelters are in your city or town?

Step 3 is practicing your plan. I often tell business clients that while the fire extinguishers mounted on the walls in their business are nice, they are useless if nobody knows how to use them. You can have an evacuation plan that fails miserably if nobody knows it; a communication plan that falls on deaf ears if it hasn’t been tested; and someone become injured or die because they never practiced how to stay alive and guessed wrong. Bottom line: practice your plan to assure the safety and well being of the most important people in your life.

There is a fabulous program meant to train people to be first responders and help each other. It’s called Until Help Arrives and information can be located here – Learn more.

Next and final week, we focus on getting involved and being part of something larger. Being “safe out there” is incumbent on planning ahead.

P.S. Follow me on Facebook. This month, I will be doing a Facebook Live segment on how to pack a “go bag” in case you must evacuate your home and one that you should keep at work in case you get stuck and can’t make it home for days. I’m also posting daily tips on Twitter.

Quote of the Week:

”To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”

~ Confucius

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help creating an emergency crisis plan for your business or family? Call me and let’s schedule a meeting to talk. The time to act is before you need it. Email me