Why going the extra mile is always good for business

Building strong, long lasting relationships with clients is the holy grail of sales. The more people you have on your database who trust you, who value you and who will always take your call, the more opportunities will arise. And sure, some people won’t let you get near them, I can count more than a number of people, who, no matter how hard I tried to connect with them after a project, clearly just didn’t want to know, but they are the minority.

Developing a strong relationship with someone takes time, perseverance and a whole host of very specific things, but one thing that I’ve always felt goes further than anything else, is going the extra mile. So what do I mean by that? I mean by understanding that something that might be small to you, might be a big deal to them, something that they’re stressing about that you have the power to help them with. It’s about dedicating that little bit of time from your diary, to make a big difference to them.

I’m not one for judging, nor do I have huge amounts of data to support this, but in my opinion, there are a lot of businesses and business owners out there, that really don’t care about how their clients feel about them, about whether they’ve done everything they could to support them, whether they’ve really helped them solve their problem, and that makes me sad.

We all need to make money, our businesses won’t survive without it, but it’s rather short sighted to not understand that a client isn’t just a client for now, they are a client for the future. It’s actually rather expensive to have to find new clients all the time, you need people to come back for project number two and three.

A lot of businesses can only see the job that’s right in front of their face and don’t even take the time to get to know the client – which by the way is a great thing for any sales person to do – they don’t give themselves the chance to understand that in 3 months time Bill is launching a new product and is going to need help marketing it.

And yet for all those businesses out there that just want projects done and out the door, there are so many who really do put their customers first, and it opens up huge opportunities for those of us like this, who really enjoy going the extra mile for our clients, no matter what that looks like.

When should you go the extra mile?

Let’s be realistic, we all have, or have had a client who whether deliberately or not, somewhat took the piss. You know the type, the one who constantly changes the brief, who is always spotting small faults and flaws and is never quite happy, the ones who will turn a small tweak into a major redesign or recalculation. And yet, they’re difficult to get mad at because above all else, they’re a nice person and they really value what you do, they just want to be helped.

Going the extra mile isn’t about devaluing your services, nor is it about giving away loads of work for free, it’s about helping people overcome challenges, by helping them out with the small things and just being a good person to do business with. As I’ve already said, what’s small for you, might be big for them, so it’s worth the time to help them with it.

I know of businesses or will charge for everything, and I mean everything, little things that will only take them ten minutes to do, that they could do on their lunch break or whilst they’re waiting for something else to happen. And these are the little things that can go a long way in helping out your client, building that long lasting relationship and going the extra mile. It is in these minor things where most of our client’s stresses lie, for them it’s the cherry on the cake, the finishing touch, the bit they’ve been up all night worrying about.

At Warpline, we get asked all the time by our clients to make tiny tweaks to videos or pieces of design work that we finished months ago, we get asked questions on how best to host videos, how to use YouTube or Vimeo, and sure we could charge, but why would we? So what if we finished that video two months ago, if the tweak is only going to take 10, 15, 20 minutes, then we’ll just do it. We’ll help set up YouTube channels and show them how to upload a native video to LinkedIn. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

If someone has a question, even something that’s slightly outside your remit, why would you not sit down with your client for 15 minutes and help them understand. You’re not too big and important to not have the time to spend a few minutes on the phone, or on a video call with your client to show them how to do something. Do you really want to charge them £15 for those 15 minutes, just to show someone something that you’re already an expert in? Why would you not share your knowledge with them and help them out?

We see random acts of kindness all the time on social media, videos on Facebook showing people helping out the homeless, some teenagers helping an old lady with her shopping. Do you think they charge that old lady £20 for the 20 minutes it took to walk her home with her shopping? Of course not, they did it because it’s the right thing to do.

The story of the £1 cups of tea

A colleague of mine, who also plays in a band, once told me a story about a small music recording studio that used to charge musicians £1 for a cup of tea. Now this wasn’t even a fancy cup of tea, this was a bog standard PG tips. My colleague and his band were working on a new album and needed a private rehearsal space to work on their music. Sadly I know for a fact that this put off my colleague and his band from ever going back, because they didn’t feel valued or wanted, they felt like they were nothing more than a booking in the diary.

This small minded thinking actually cost that recording studio a lot of money in the long run because my colleague and his band hired multiple rehearsal spaces throughout the development of their album and then booked a recording studio when they were ready to record and mmix their album. All things that this studio could have supported them with. Was that £1 cup of tea worth missing out on the nearly £1000 worth of additional work? Musicians spend a lot of time and money on their music, for some it’s just a passionate hobby and for others it’s a dream of becoming a rock star, but regardless of which it is, why on earth would someone think it’s a good idea to charge for tea, considering you can pick up a box of tea bags for £1.60.

So how does this turn into business?

So going the extra mile all sounds great doesn’t it and we all want to help others, but we obviously need to grow our businesses and make money, so what does this practically mean for your business?

If you can build a loyal base of clients or contacts that believe you have their best interests at heart, then you will never be short of sales opportunities, why, because they will remember what you did for them and then will always choose you first.

Imagine this, you’ve just launched a new product, something a bit different to your usual services. You’re excited and you’re ready to launch, but now you need clients, how do you go and find them? You could run social media adverts, you could go networking, you could do a whole host of things, or you could ring up the 53 people that you’ve been building relationships with, that you know will always take your call. Now sure, some of them won’t buy, some won’t need it, some won’t be ready, some won’t like it, but some of them will be interested, and because they already know you, trust you and because you’ve helped them in the past, that sale or conversation is going to be a lot easier to have.

What you do is up to you

Ultimately you have to decide for yourself what you are and aren’t willing to do for your clients. I’m not suggesting you give everything away, I’m not expecting you to give away hundreds and thousands of pounds of billable time, but think about the little things, think of the things that will only take 10, 15, 20 minutes, but that that client will remember for a long time. You need to protect yourself sure, but are you really so afraid of giving a little bit extra? Is your business so fragile that you feel the need to charge for literally everything?

Now I’m not saying my opinion is right or wrong, it’s just the way I go about things, but I know for a fact that every single one of those people that me and my team have gone the extra mile for, have really appreciated the time we spent with them helping them out. How do I know? Because they’ve told me, or they’ve told my colleagues or they’ve told some of my other clients.

Going the extra mile is always the right thing, period, until the end of time. The more good deeds you put out into your community, your network and your database, the more good things will come around, and isn’t that worth the effort?