How hard would it be for one of your clients or customers to replace you with an alternative provider?
I was thinking about this recently when a salesman came to my home. He asked if he could quote me a price to look after the trees and hedges, which surround our house. I said that I wasn’t interested. He then said that if I told him what my current guys charge, he’d beat their price. I explained that I still wasn’t interested. I thanked him for his time and he left.
Just think about that for a second. Because it contains a massively powerful marketing lesson.
Imagine being so valuable to your clients or customers that they send competitors away, uninterested in hearing about their lower prices or ‘better’ deals.
Let’s look at how this applies to you and your business and what you can do, to be (or remain) utterly irreplaceable.
If that salesman had been a little wiser, he’d have asked me what made my current provider irreplaceable. If he’d asked, here’s what I’d have told him.
The team who look after my hedges and trees have worked for us for years. They know exactly how we like things. They are extremely reliable and when we needed them in an emergency, they responded fast; removing a tree that had fallen down in a storm. They provide a great service, which they are well paid for.
They’re happy and we’re happy.
They’ve made themselves irreplaceable by building trust. They’ve earned that trust by doing great work over the long haul and being extremely reliable. I have recommended them dozens of times over the years to friends, all of whom are equally delighted with them.
There are 2 pieces of gold dust in the previous paragraph.
- The best way to become irreplaceable is to earn trust. It was during our first year with the tree company that they came out to remove that tree, which was blocking a road on a dangerous corner. They were here in 40 minutes and charged us their normal rate, when they could have exploited the situation. Their attitude to service has remained every year since.
- When a provider earns our trust and does great work, it’s easy to recommend them to our friends.
Clearly, every business owner should strive to make their business irreplaceable. It improves customer retention, whilst also generating a regular flow of word-of-mouth referrals.
It’s not about one huge action. In the above example, my tree problem gave them an opportunity to shine. However, it was followed by years of excellent customer service. It’s certainly not about being the lowest priced.
How do you become irreplaceable?
It’s about the daily interactions you have with your customers and your marketplace. It’s the compound effect of many positive experiences. You earn the position of being irreplaceable over the medium and long haul. Every interaction should be viewed as an opportunity to increase your value to your customers.
That’s how you earn (then re earn) the position of being irreplaceable. Yes, you need to re earn the position. If you earn trust and then casually assume you’re permanently irreplaceable, you’ll soon be replaced by someone who out manoeuvres you. A casual approach causes casualties.
Now let’s look again at my opening question. Ask yourself, how hard would it be for one of your clients or customers to replace you? If you don’t like your answer, do something about it today. Then make the process of being irreplaceable, part of the rhythm of your business.
Your reward is a business built on a rock solid foundation. A foundation of clients who regard you as utterly irreplaceable.