I’d been noticing an interesting situation that continued to happen, but said nothing to anyone about it. What’s the situation? Building fires but getting no heat. Here’s how that was working:
Customers request I prepare a quote for doing Very Important Project A for them. They get excited about my solutions. Love my body of work. Then…nothing. Follow-up after follow-up (me to them, them to me) and they keep talking about the thing. Even making appointments to continue with it, but…cancelling.
What was going on? Is it me? Have I lost my credibility? My mojo? Talent? Abilities? Inspiration? Did I get lazy? Forget what customer service is all about? Were they hiring others and just didn’t have the heart to tell me? What?
Frustrated, I finally began confessing my sad tale to others I knew. I thought they could tell me what I was doing wrong. You know, give me much-needed feedback. Tough love, right? I was surprised to hear many tell me they were having the same responses from customers hot to trot but very few pulling the trigger.
So, now that I knew it wasn’t a lack in me, blinders off, I was able to see the entire situation. What did I find? I found my customers had stresses on them as well.
Their own customers were slow in implementing or purchasing — or going out of business, so cash flow was negatively impacted for things my customers wanted to do.
Stressing them to the max and diverting attention from business, many are dealing with aging parents, health scares of their own, and/or children and grandchildren drama.
With small businesses taking the brunt of these blows, additionally the many impossible-to-keep regulations over-bloated federal and state governments force on business have shuttered many a door.
So there isn’t even any replacing of lost business as folks just hunker down.
After a long period of silence one of my customers called me and he said — I quote verbatim, “Angela, we’re not cheating on you. We love you. We haven’t hired anybody else to do what you do. It’s just our business is very bad and has been for a while.”
That was kind of him to say, and I thanked him. Warmed my heart and salved my ego. Still, money has not been flowing my way like it used to because money isn’t flowing their way. Since that call two years ago, business ramped up for them and I’ve done more projects, but not near what we used to do ten years ago.
This company produces products for two industries both of which rely on a robust economy: Construction, and delivery vehicles, transportation, farming, mining, and lawn care.
Their products are great, well-respected, and used by everybody. They white-label some of their products for worldwide known companies with massive marketing budgets and distribution systems. And still business is down. I write this article for a couple of reasons.
One: To say do not despair. Those seeing a reduction in business may not be doing anything wrong. They may also have tried all sorts of things to stoke the flames and are not seeing good for their hard work.
Two: To say ignore the pie-in-the-sky experts. With feel good quickie quotes meant to highlight you are doing it all wrong — Buy their book! Attend their rah-rah seminar! Let the vibrations of the universe work for you! — well, your best interests are not being served because reality is being ignored.
You aren’t crazy.
You aren’t lazy.
Things are just hazy in this business climate right now.
Financial, industry, technology, and business bubbles are bursting all over the world. Hopefully the fog will clear and the fires we are building will produce some heat.
Stay strong, my friends.