A ringing telephone can be music to your ears. Hopefully, it means that potential customers have heard about your services and are eager to learn more. Or, a caller may have an assignment that is right up your alley. New business creates opportunities for more work by providing solid experience to offer other customers, as well as those all- important word-of-mouth references from your satisfied customers.

To make customers feel special, set aside some time to treat each one like the center of the universe. By focusing this way, you could save hours of other relationship-building efforts. Ask the customers about their problems, successes, and plans. The more you listen, the more you’ll know what kind of work your customer is open to, and what buttons to push to get it. Know and meet the needs of your best customers, and know and exceed the expectations of all your customers.

Who is your source of income but your customers? Don’t taint this source through poor customer relations. By endangering the relationship even once by overcharging, shoddy work, cutting corners, not following through on service or promises, or by poor attitude, you lose the confidence and respect of the customer, and you can never return to the original relationship. Even if you make some adjustment, the memory still exists. Remember that a good source of additional business is through customer referral. Don’t expect a good recommendation from a dissatisfied customer.

When dealing with new customers, particularly on jobs that will generate a large sales volume, call for references. You can call past contractors and supply houses to determine the type of customer the individual or company is to work with. Are they cooperative? Do they pay on time? Do they require a significant amount of changes while the work is in progress, etc.?

Many business owners feel that more business is better business. This is not always true. The quality and confidence of your customers is more important than the number. Developing positive relationships with potentially repeat customers based upon respect and dutifully earned trust is difficult and slow, but worthy of your efforts. You should be in a constant search for new good customers, as all businesses lose customers. The sad part is that many times no one knows why a customer went elsewhere.

Mike Holt’s Comment: This newsletter article was extracted from my Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we encourage your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. Please respond to

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