By Eric Woodruff, CPA, CCIFP
Partner, Audit & Assurance Services
As we continue to face COVID-related restrictions and challenges, it’s vital to do everything you can to stay ahead of the competition. And to do that, you need to think outside the box — innovate to succeed, or in some cases, to merely survive. The hospitality industry has been decimated, but look at those that are surviving, and understand how they have had to change to merely stay in business.
Don’t be afraid to be different from your competition. Many times, it’s the differentiating factors that make you BETTER!
One way to be different is to truly get to know your customer — keep a keen focus on their wants and needs. Make your meetings with them more than a mere business transaction. Ask about their broader objectives and how they want to be served and what type of relationship they are seeking. It’s all about going above and beyond, and yes, that takes time and commitment, but the effort is usually rewarded.
One area in which it’s especially important to exceed expectations is responsiveness. A good rule of thumb is to respond as soon as possible, even if you can’t help the customer with their particular need at that moment. Just respond to let them know you saw their message and will assist them as soon as you are able. Also ask them their preferred method of communication: email, text, phone call, etc.
To stand out from the competition, maybe you need to consider breaking past the standard 8-5 timeframe. Keep in communication during the evenings and on weekends. And don’t assume that your clients are business-as-usual when it comes to communication.
Again, being a different and better business is about doing more than what’s expected. As an example, in our business, if there are extenuating circumstances, we will hand deliver a work product to our clients rather than relying on the post office or FedEx. We do this because we want clients to know they can have confidence in us to deliver results and serve them in the manner they prefer.
We also want them to know that we want to make it very easy for them to do business with us, and to do that, we know we must be accommodating.
Times like these put businesses to the test. To survive and thrive, you need to stand out. Don’t be afraid to change. With change comes opportunity! You should seek to stand out from the crowd.