6th October 2016

No service, big opportunity

Trying to upgrade my satellite package resulted in the phone call not being answered after 20 minutes of trying. Not once, not twice but three times. Calling my local Audi dealer to book the car in took twenty minutes for the call to be answered and the promise of a six week wait for a so called courtesy vehicle. Three calls to the doctor’s surgery ended up in three voice announcements that they were closed, for lunch, training or something else. Who would have thought that organisations could make the spending of money so difficult?

Now I accept that I am old enough to no longer need to apologise for being a grumpy old man and I will spare you the whinge because, when all said and done, the point that we mustn’t miss is that this far into the twenty-first century good service is as rare a thing as it has ever been and as long as that is the case it provides a huge opportunity for the entrepreneurs among us.

Peter Drucker observed “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” Things are changing so quickly now that we don’t have to look very far to find either it or the opportunity that it presents. The challenge really is in knowing and understanding what customers want.

I read a book once that suggested ‘when they zig, you zag’. When the majority are seeking low cost, low service models they leave in their wake dissatisfied customers who don’t want the standard, mass produced, homogeneous, take it or leave it beefburger but are prepared to pay for something better. Of course there will be those who will say that the customer only ever wants to pay the least they can for as much as they can get, and they may well be right; but not for all of the customers and not for all of the time. There will always be customers with different priorities and therein lies a whole raft of opportunities.

The fact that those more discerning customers are more scarce and therefore more difficult to find (and probably to satisfy) should be a challenge that the smaller business owner embraces willingly because that is the market that the ‘mass’ market caterers are unlikely to satisfy.

Too often I suspect too many of us are chasing the next new idea when we might be better mastering the successful, effective and profitable delivery of an idea already in existence. We don’t need to invent a better mousetrap just figure out how to deliver the current mousetrap in a way that fits our customer better.

Being better than the rest isn’t rocket science. The tradesman that turns up on time, that is clean and tidy, that is polite, that is personable and professional will never be short of clients. What will it take for your firm to be better than your competition? Sometimes it is as simple as answering the damn phone.