Updated: Jun 19, 2018
How many times do you say “No” to your customers? No matter what size business you operate, a single business cannot meet ALL the needs or requests that customers have; although Amazon is testing this theory for sure.
Practicing hospitality within business gives us the opportunity to meet the needs and requests of our clients, customers, and guests, even if we are not the one directly providing the service. How do we do that? By creating a network of collaborative business partners and friends.
So often we think about other businesses as being competitors instead of collaborators. If we can shift our focus off of ourselves and only what we get from the customer’s transactions, and instead think about how to really meet the need of the customer, you will become a collaborative business within your community.
A competitive outlook will take very little time and yield very little in relational customers. A collaborative outlook will take considerable time with a customer, but yield an abundance of relational customers. For example, let’s say a first-time customer comes to you for a product or service that you are not able to provide. How would a competitive approach compare to a collaborative approach?
You: Hi, welcome to ABC Services. How may we help you today?
Customer: I am looking for a purple garden hose that automatically retracts back into the storage box with a foot pedal thingy.
You: No, we don’t have that here. Is there anything else I may help you with?
Customer: No, that was all I was needing. I guess I’ll keep searching.
You: OK, have a nice day!
You: Good morning! Welcome to ABC Services, my name is Shelley (as you reach out to shake their hand). What’s your name?
Customer: My name is Catherine.
You: Catherine, it’s so nice to meet you. How may I help you today?
Catherine: I’m looking for a purple garden hose that automatically retracts back into the storage box with a foot pedal thingy.
You: Wow, that sounds like an awesome thing to have! Is this for you or a gift for someone else?
Catherine: Well, it’s for my husband. He loves to garden, but recently had surgery and is having trouble bending over. And my favorite color is purple.
You: That’s so thoughtful of you to think about helping him continue to enjoy his garden during this difficult time, and I love the color purple. We have lots of garden hoses including the hand crank type that retracts the hose into the box. I don’t have the foot pedal type or the purple color garden hose. However, here’s what I can do. Let me call over to my friends at XYZ Lawn Supply. I was just over there for a meeting last week and they were showing me the exact item you are looking for. Let me make sure they have it in stock and if so, I’ll let them know you are coming over. Would you like a bottle of water while I call? Feel free to look around while I’m on the phone.
Catherine: Thank you, yes, water would be great, it’s so hot outside today!
You: (making the call to XYZ Lawn Supply) George, this is Shelley at ABC Supply. I have a wonderful lady in my shop looking for a purple garden hose that retracts into the box with a foot pedal. I was at the networking meeting at your place last week and thought I saw that at your place, is that right?
George: Oh, yes, and we have it with a purple hose!
You: That’s great. I’m going to send this nice lady over to your place to look at it. Her name is Catherine and I’ll let her know to tell you I sent her over.
George: I’ll be watching for her. Thanks for the referral, Shelley.
You: Anytime George. I’m glad we could help her.
You: (Turning your attention back to Catherine) Catherine, good news! XYZ Lawn Supply has what you are looking for. They are great people over there and will take good care of you. (You hand her a piece of paper with their name, address, and phone number on it). I’m glad we could help you find what you needed. Is there anything else I may help you with today?
Catherine: Not today, but I’ll be back sometime. I saw some really nice things in yours store.
You: Oh, that’s great. Catherine, it was so nice to meet you today. I’ll look forward to seeing you again. Have a great day and I hope your husband recovers well from his surgery.
When you incorporate hospitality with your customer’s experience, you will build relationships that will bring them coming back to your door, along with referrals. You can say YES to all your potential customers by:
Making them feel welcomed, special, and important through excellent hospitality
Establishing collaborative business partners so that you can say YES to your customers indirectly.
Hosting a collaborative business networking meeting each month at different businesses so you can know what products and services your collaborative partners offer to your customers.
Hospitality in Action Tip #14
When a customer has a need that is beyond your services, connect them with a collaborative businesses partner who can help meet their need.