When you own your own business, nothing matters more to you than the quality of your work. You work hard to ensure that your clients get everything that they need from you and more. You out-hustle the competition, exceed expectations, and take price in everything you do.
And yet, none of this will matter unless your clients believe in you. In fact, even the best work can be ignored or rejected if it is not presented in the right way. While it would be nice if your reputation relied only on the superior quality of your work, reality is a bit more complicated than that. Out here in the real world, customer perception matters: Your clients need to be confident in your work if they are going to keep hiring you and use the services that you provide. Here’s how to make sure that your clients believe in you and the work that you do.
Dress for success
Whether or not a dress code helps a workplace is up for debate. But when you meeting with clients, there’s no question about it: You need to dress well and impress your clients with your professionalism.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear a suit; that wouldn’t be appropriate for some situations and lines of work. But you do need to make sure that your clothes are neat and clean, that they fit well, and that they are appropriate for the type of work you are doing and the types of clients that you are meeting with.
Talk the talk
It sounds silly, but certain types of business words and phrases are likely to impress your clients. When you know industry lingo, that demonstrates that you’re on top of the latest developments and best practices in your area of expertise.
This doesn’t mean that you should talk down to clients, of course. But it does mean that you should show a familiarity with the tricky parts of what you do. Ideally, your communications with clients will make them feel comfortable with your grasp of the tasks at hand while gently reminding them why they hired you. What you do is complicated stuff, and they need you!
Organized and customized
If you present reports and paperwork to your clients, you need to think about how those things are organized and presented. Are you using binders and folders to keep things straight and easy to access? And are those presentation folders and other organizing materials customized with your company’s brand? These materials are a great way to make a mark and demonstrate your attention to detail and commitment to quality to your clients. You could even add customized lines that address these materials to your clients. That kind of personal touch can make a big difference and inspire confidence in your commitment to doing to a great job.
A personal touch in your personal and professional lives
Work is important, but it’s not everything. And how you treat your clients when you’re not on the clock can really change their perspective on your business.
Try sending out holiday cards or birthday cards to clients. Keep in touch socially, if it’s appropriate. And within the business world, do things that are above and beyond your professional relationship, like referring business to them or helping them with unfunded projects. Showing that you’re not all about the money will show your clients just how committed to them and to your work you are. For you and your business, this is more than just a way to make quick cash: It’s a passion and a calling.