When Family Becomes Customers
On Brojid Money this week, I want to show you how to handle family and friends when they become customers.
The reality of life is that as a new starter or one who just wants to sell his expertise, most of your first set of customers will be your family—blood relations, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
They are usually the first because they are easier to convince since they trust you already or at least have an emotional connection with you. Or they just succumb to your pressure and disturbance-marketing.
In fact, often, your family and friends patronize you, not because they really need what you are selling; but it’s their way of encouraging you and supporting your hustle. It’s their expression of belief in you and your work.
When a family becomes customer, it simply means that they are taking your relationship with them to another level and common sense require that you don’t allow the relationship you already have died because of a business transaction.
Therefore, starting from the point of pitching your business to the point of delivering their products or services, you have a duty to ensure that you don’t do anything that will damage your relationship or adversely affect your business.
Achieving the tripartite goals of maintaining your relationship with family, satisfying them as customers while protecting your business interest is not a mean feat; it requires tactfulness, clarity, firmness and sacrifice on your part.
When a family becomes customer, don’t be carried away by the excitement of getting their money. Be sure you are actually selling something of value to them; be clear on your expectations from each other, put in your best to deliver the best to them just like you would do for a stranger and don’t succumb to any possible pressure of unprofessionalism from them.
Let me explain these points.
Don’t Sell Crap!
Before you step out to market any product or service to family, be sure that what you are selling to them is valuable. They are human beings and like every human, they want value for their money; don’t make them feel they wasted their money doing business with you.
If your product is not as good as the ones in the market, please don’t charge as much as the established brand. They will not patronize you or do that in pains; just to save face. In fact, you can give them a discount on what you are selling for trusting you to design their website.
As you market your products and services to people, I need you to understand that good marketing is not selling ice to the Eskimos; it’s helping them understand that a thick sweater is not a luxury, but a necessity. So, don’t just try to sell to your relations; be sure you are selling something of value to them. Don’t destroy your reputation before them because you want to make some money.
Be Clear on Your Expectations
Most times, when family contracts you for business, it’s informal. They don’t go through the process of calling your office or sending you a mail or through your customer care or with your client satisfaction system. In fact, they may even enter a contract with you while you are at a family dinner, after church service or when your mum mentions that you also bake cake.
The consequence is that the terms of your transaction are hardly defined and many business owners don’t make the efforts to determine it. As a result, they have lost valuable relationships because of the varied expectations from each other. That’s a blunder you don’t want to commit.
So, when a family is about to become customer, be clear to define your expectations from each other. Don’t assume that she wants a 5-level cake; ask. Don’t assume the colour or choose for her; ask. You may not give him a form to fill the way you would have if a client had walked into your office, but you can still get all the information you need to fill the form by asking.
You can just say, “Uncle, please you will help me answer some questions to help me determine exactly what you want on your website so that I won’t fall your hand.” It will make him relax and not accuse you of being too formal and gladly provide you with the information you need.
When you are done taking note of what they want and the specification they want, tell the cost implication and possibly send it to them again. You can just send them a message: “Uncle, like we discussed at Nkiru’s wedding, you need me to design for you a corporate website that sells your business, showcases your testimonials and past projects, has social media integration, email marketing system, podcasting system and payment system with custom email address. You will need to pay 85k for it and to help us get started; we need you to pay 35k”.
This is something he already knows but to avoid, “I thought you meant this or that,” just write it again as a text message or mail and send to him.
Clarifying your expectations from each other helps you know exactly what family wants and lets them know what it will cost to get them. It ensures that they are satisfied and equally saves you from the headache of doing the work again or having to supply product twice.
Over Deliver on Promises
Once they pay for your service, go out of your way to deliver what you agreed on. Many people fail to give family the best of their services or product because of familiarity and the near assurance that they won’t make trouble with them. Please don’t fall into that temptation.
Understand that every work you do have your signature on it—whether it’s done for your relation or your enemy—and they are marketing tools for you wherever they are exposed to. If I were you, I would make sure that I give the job my best.
Sometimes, family request a huge discount and expects us not to charge them as much as we should and because of that, there is the temptation not to give them the best. Again, resist that temptation.
That’s why I implore you not to charge anything less than what you can comfortably collect. In designing websites or even delivering any order for family or even pastor, the least they are allowed to pay should cover every expense I will incur; including internet access and possible call to them.
So, when family becomes customer, don’t reduce your quality or standard of service for any reason. Focus on delivering the best possible product or service you can and do your best to ensure that they are satisfied.
It’s annoying when you have relations who don’t bring you any business; but when you prove that you sabi your work and have satisfied them, they can easily and boldly refer others to you.
Even if they want to manage it like that, don’t agree because they may not be there to explain to the person who will be wondering the amateur who built their website. Stick to the best possible standard no matter how small your business is; that’s how to grow your business to become big.
Beware of Unprofessional Practices
I expect that you should have a customer satisfaction system which is a strategy you deploy from the point of customer acquisition to their declaration of satisfaction. You should also have business policies that protect your business and that of your clients. Sometimes, family members demand that we drop such systems and policy just to satisfy them. Beware of such pressure.
Such a policy could be a financial commitment before you start their job. It should at least help you cover the cost of getting the production materials and other costs you may incur. This is very important especially in Printing where you need to pay for paper and impression.
It can also be about who you handover organization’s websites and passwords to. This helps you ensure you don’t give it to the wrong person and if you hand it over to the agreed person, you can at least deny any trouble that may ensue from that in future.
When family becomes customer, be clear on your expectations from each other, be professional in your dealing with them and put in your best to deliver exceptionally to them. Your job has your name on it and it’s as you prove faithful in a seemly small job that God commits bigger one to you.
PS:You can learn more ion this from our 10-minutes podcast on this same subject When Family Become Customer.
PSS: Next week on Brojid Money, I will show you practical things to do to avoid crises with family and friends when they become customers.
You can read more of this kind of post on our Money Money Magazine, every Tuesday. For quick tips we share with youths every Monday, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin @BrojidWorld
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