Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Retaining Focus on Key Clients Results in Long-Term Loyalty

With the economic turbulence of the Recession, many clients are searching for ways to cut their costs. Combined with increased competition for fewer opportunities, many A/E/C firms perceive a decline in client loyalty. In response, many firms are quick to throw in the towel and spend their resources searching for new, replacement clients. While feelings of frustration are natural under these circumstances, losing focus on your key clients will cost you dearly.

As a Principal in your firm, you should increase efforts to strengthen and protect those relationships. Following are three tips to strengthen relationships and keep competitors at bay:

1. Spend more face time with your clients. Even if they say they don’t have any work right now, show them that you still value your relationship with them when the well is dry. Take your relationship to a closer level by replacing e-mail communications with telephone conversations, and telephone conversations with face-to-face interactions.

2. Improve your understanding of their business. When your client is under duress, it’s a great time to get them talking about what is happening in their industry and their organization. Talking about it will help to relieve their stress and at the same time enable you to develop a better understanding of forces that drive their organization, understand where opportunities currently exist and will be created in the future, and bond with your client.

3. Find ways to help. While listening to your client, try to identify small things that you and your firm can do to help them deal with their challenges. This can range from helping them connect with others that can benefit their business, to keeping them up to date on market trends, regulatory developments, and other information important to their success. Be a valuable resource to your clients and they will want to keep you nearby.

While we promote the concept of firing bad clients, it’s very important to protect your relationships with the good ones. If you’re like most A/E/C firms, a large percentage of your revenue is derived from a small percentage of your clients. Stick by these clients, show them some love, and protect these relationships—especially when the going gets tough.

For more tips on how to be a great Principal and lead your firm out of the Recession, come to PSMJ’s A/E/C Principals Bootcamp this fall. Participants will spend two intense days learning from, and networking with other senior leaders and aspiring Principals from around the industry. And with 7 locations across North America, you’re sure to find a Bootcamp near you!

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