So, I’m in the midst of renovating my townhome in Atlanta. The kitchen is done, and the upstairs bedrooms and baths are next.
The guy I’m working with was incredibly hard to nail down. He first came by to discuss the kitchen in mid-November of last year, but it wasn’t till mid-March that he finally got started. He doesn’t always return calls promptly, and his smiling “don’t-worry-it’ll-all-be-okay” responses—in broken English—to requests for specificity on time and expense were, at the outset, borderline maddening.
And, there’s no one else I want working on my house.
I’ll happily deal with the delays, the occasional radio silence and the vague, happy-face answers. Why?
Well, for starters, he’s just done an amazing job so far. The quality of his work is outstanding. Moreover, he’s got a naturally creative mind—always coming up with great ideas for this or that space—and if there’s multiple ways of doing something, he’ll always suggest the least expensive one, yet still get great results. And all that wasn’t reason enough to love him, he’s amazingly reasonable, to boot.
(By the way, if you live in the Atlanta area, no, sorry, you can’t have his name. Not till I’m done with him, anyway… 🙂
All the above is great, and definitely a “best-of-all-worlds” combination one virtually never finds, but it was something else that really cemented my attachment to him…
He’s committed to delivering a superior product—even if it means more work for him (understand: he worked on a fixed labor cost, not by the hour). An example…
I brought him two samples of backsplash subway tile—one a rustic travertine, one of tinted glass. I asked him which he thought would be best. He looked at them both, looked at me, and holding up the glass tile, said, “This one would be a lot easier for me, but this one (holding up the travertine) is the one you want to go. It’s harder to work with this material, but you’ll be much happier with the outcome.”
There were plenty of other similar little examples, where his desire to have me be happy—no, scratch that, thrilled—with the outcome, trumped any clock-watching on his part.
Bottom line, he’s spoiled me terribly, and even though, as I write this, the delays in getting started on Phase 2 are giving me déjà vu, it doesn’t matter. I’ll wait.
Of course, I try to never miss opportunities to map the experiences I have in one part of my life onto the others. This guy is a living example of how to build rabidly loyal clients.
What might it do for our commercial freelancing businesses if we shifted our focus from clock-watching and making sure we didn’t get taken advantage of by clients, to looking for ways to make sure our clients are thrilled with the work we do for them?
Sure, all we have is our time, and we can’t give away the farm, but assuming we’re earning a healthy wage, and have factored into our quotes some time for “hiccups,” what could cultivating a “service” mindset do for our practices?
In addition to ensuring our work plate always stayed full, and our fees stopped being questioned, what might it do for our spirits, our souls? Because, I’m telling, this guy is a happy man. Full of joy, goodwill and sunshine. Just the kind of person people love to work with.
Have you run across people—outside of our profession—similar to my friend above, who inspired you to raise the bar on your commercial writing offering?
Have you adopted a “service” attitude in your practice, and if so, can you share specific examples of its impact on your client relationships?
And if you have developed that mindset, how do you balance it against the need to earn a fair wage?
And if you haven’t adopted that mindset yet, has this piece given you some ideas, or affirmed some feelings you’ve already had about how to run your copywriting business?
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