Daniel Nixon, Managing Director, Foundation One
Here’s a deceptively simple question for you: How does your company provide value to its clients?
If you answered with some version of “by doing x and doing it well (or better than our competition)”, let me suggest you’re missing a key point. Providing value to your clients goes well beyond what your company does.
One reason many companies fail to build long term relationships with clients is that they don’t understand this.
Doing your core business well is vital – but clients are unlikely to see that as adding value. Why? Because for them, that’s simply what’s expected of you.
For example, our company maintains commercial buildings. If you watched our team at work, you’d see them checking, maintaining and fixing the things that keep commercial buildings operating. It’s important, necessary work. And we strive to do it well.
But from our clients’ perspective, the kind of value that gets them excited only shows up when they can see that what we’re doing enables them to achieve their business goals. Unless you provide that kind of strategic value, you’ll struggle to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Most of our clients are commercial property managers. Their main concern is enabling their clients to gain maximum value from their buildings over time without undue worry about compliance, health and safety, cash flow, or any of the other myriad issues that come with owning a commercial building. We’ve made it our business to enable our clients to deliver value to their clients.
When you are in the swamp with your clients, helping them get their clients onto solid ground, you’re a strategic asset.
Now here’s the key point. With that in mind, we’re clear that we’re not in the business of doing things. We’re in the business of delivering outcomes.
If you want to be a strategic asset, you have to be clear on the outcomes you’re delivering, and own those outcomes like your life depends on it.
It’s not as complicated as it might sound. We still repair, maintain, install, refurbish, reinstate and build. But always with the intention of helping our clients better deliver on their promises to their clients.
That means we also anticipate issues and talk to clients about them before they blow up. We look for opportunities to do things more efficiently, or defer costs to facilitate cash flow.
We hire not just for technical competence, but also for strong communication skills and a great customer service attitude. We stand behind all our work, fixing things quickly when they go wrong and making sure our quality standards are high enough that things rarely do go wrong.
We hire people who can deliver on those promises and we give them autonomy to solve problems without sending clients up the food chain until they reach a decision maker.
It’s not complicated, but it’s not always easy either. Which is one reason it’s not common.
My point is not that we’re a model of how to run a business. Like everyone else, we’re always looking at how we can do better.
My point is that real success comes from going beyond the doing, and putting your attention on delivering outcomes that your clients regard as offering real value.
Do that, and success will not be far behind.