On 7/30 Fritz, my dog, graced us with his Top 10 Management Tips. Fritz and I spend a lot of time together and I am routinely amazed at what he knows and does. I have always (foolishly) considered myself to be the provider and Fritz to be the customer but I realized this morning, I have that backwards. Fritz is a classic small business executive!
This morning, as usual, I started to close a phone call and Fritz was sitting up, ready to go play / walk / do something. Since we have only worked together for nine months, I was surprised at how quickly I came to expect this behavior. But from Fritz’s perspective, how did he learn what the end of a phone call sounded like? He can’t understand the words and he certainly doesn’t understand what that black thing that is constantly near mom’s head is, so how did he learn? HE OBSERVED. He knew what he wanted (my attention) and he observed what happens right before he could get it. Now he also did experiments – climbing up my chair at various intervals – but he quickly learned that the black thing took precedence. But he also learned over time that there was a certain cadence to my voice as I wrap up a call. “Great! Talk to you soon! Bye” translates to “now I can pay attention Fritz” in his mind.
Okay – that’s all nice Kath, but so what? Well, if you are a small business owner, it is a good bet you don’t have a magic mirror that lets you see into your customer’s operations. You don’t know what they are doing when they finally pay attention to you. So what can you observe? What can you take from Fritz and use yourself to learn how to be ready just at that moment the customer has to choose to make another phone call or pay attention to you? How can you be sitting up ready to play?
The advantage you hold is your ability to communicate. Fritz can’t ask me “what is that black thing and why do you care?” but you can. Talk to your customers about how they made the decision to come to you. How did they remember you were the solution to their problem? What trigger led them to notice you were ready to play?
Think about it, call your customers, try some experiments. For me, well, it is time to go throw the toy in the yard.