I’m no Toshua Parker. He owns the sole grocery store in the tiny Alaskan outpost of Gustavus, Alaska, which is only accessible by boat or plane.
When the ferry system couldn’t deliver supplies to his store, Parker took matters into his own hands. Together with members of his staff, he makes a 14 hour boat journey weekly to Juneau where he purchases enough food to keep his village fed until he has to make another trip.
Parker has earned the right to say “we’re in this together.”
What about the rest of us?
I don’t tell my clients “we’re in this together” because nothing has changed in our relationship. They still pay me to render services to them. I’m not making sacrifices, unlike Parker.
What about you? You might want to think carefully before you tell your clients “we’re in this together.” Do you really mean it?
In an effort to rescue the economy, the U.S. government has taken concrete steps to help individuals (with stimulus checks) and businesses (with loans and tax relief) weather the pandemic. Federal and state entities have stepped up with temporary relief for tenants (preventing evictions for a period of time) and those paying mortgages (by permitting deferred payments.)
With these actions, they’ve earned the right to say “we’re in this together.”
If you (like me) continue to accept your usual fees in exchange for your services, you haven’t.
Here are some things you might do to turn those words into action. I’m sure you can come up with others:
1. Reduce your fees either temporarily or permanently. Show clients this isn’t business as usual for you. Demonstrate you feel their pain (and their anxiety) and this is your way of helping.
2. Reduce your costs by having more virtual meetings and encouraging your employees to work at home. Pass on the savings in lower rent and higher productivity to your clients. When is the last time a client of an advisory firm received a notification that their fees were reduced? If you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself, this may be it.
3. Select some clients who are having an especially difficult time – either financially or personally – and reduce their fees. Show them you understand how the pandemic and the volatile market has impacted them. Consider suspending all their fees for a period of time (like six months.)
There’s an adage that “talk is cheap.” If you really want to show your clients you’re in the same boat, rowing in tandem, back it up with action.
Resource of the week:
This article discusses common clichés used in business and what they convey.