How A Preventative Mindset Can Tap Into A New Customer Base
Every successful business owner understands the importance of being proactive. But it’s becoming more important to be aggressive about searching for ways to improve your business because these days, your customers are more proactive than ever. Some of them are extremely motivated and involved, and they want your help — sometimes before they even seem like they should need it. Pay particular attention to customers who don’t seem to be part of the demographic you’re targeting. You could be letting a lot of incredible opportunities slip through your fingers.
Because if you haven’t noticed, there are several things that happen when you have a proactive customer.
Customers are now telling you what you should sell, not the other way around.
It used to be that a business could get away with creating a product and service and telling the customer they needed it. You can still do that, but more than ever, consumers are the ones telling business owners what they need. For instance, you’ve probably heard of secret menu items, which are not listed on the menu but are available for customers who request them. Restaurants never, or rarely, create secret menu items; the customers come up with these ideas on their own. In fact, that’s how McDonald’s came to add the triple breakfast stack to their menu. It started off as a secret menu item.
If they wanted to, restaurants could effectively say, “Look, buddy, we have a menu for a reason. It simplifies the system, so people don’t wait too long for their food. You may want some special meal, but sorry, no can do.” But the smart ones, of course, understand the value of keeping the customers happy, so provided they have the ingredients on hand, they agree to make what the customer has ordered and keep the patron satisfied. That’s certainly a reasonable approach to sales, but you want to empower your employees to occasionally “break” rules if it’s feasible and a customer has an idea for a product or service that you don’t offer.
Many customers want to fix problems before they become problems.
In fact, I’d argue that’s why identity-theft protection and warranty services have flourished in the last 10 years or so, and why the insurance industry has thrived for at least a couple of centuries. People want to head off potential issues at the pass.
That can be an opportunity for any business that specializes in fixing problems.
For instance, in the medical spa industry, we’ve noticed many millennials and Gen Z consumers are seeking out “prejuvenation” treatments. That is, they’re beginning anti-wrinkle and anti-aging treatments before they start showing signs of aging. That can sound crazy at first, but it makes sense, if you think about it, and it’s a reflection of where our society is. The economy is doing well, so people have more money to spend on maintenance and preventative projects. We keep our cars well-maintained rather than drive our vehicles into the ground. Homeowners quickly learn that if you ignore home maintenance issues, they just get worse. Why wouldn’t people want maintenance projects for themselves? Making it easier for consumers to prevent a problem can open up new revenue streams.
For instance, if you have a tax service that is busy mostly in the first quarter of the year, you might want to offer new services or hold free or paid workshops for consumers interested in working on their taxes through the rest of the year, rather than days or weeks before April 15. Some plumbing services offer maintenance membership services where they treat customers’ waterlines regularly rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. Olive Garden’s “buy one, take one” promotion solves the customer’s problem of what to make for dinner the next day. Think about how you can help solve future problems for customers.
Help your business model by fixing problems ahead of time.
You could argue that, by helping people head off problems, you’re taking away from your core business. For instance, one could maintain that if you help a client with their tax problems throughout the year, or you help people remain looking younger longer, you’ll change your business model. Instead of helping people with big problems, you’ll always be doing smaller preventative jobs. But, of course, the world doesn’t work like that. You’re always going to have consumers who are proactive and those who are reactive. By taking the initiative to cater to the customers who are always ahead of an issue, you’re simply casting a wider net.
But it’s more than that, too. By always looking ahead for future problems to fix and having a “prejuvenation” mindset, your business model will rejuvenate and be stronger than ever. Your employees will be smarter and more knowledgeable, understanding even more about what your company does, and so will you. So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your youngest customers can’t possibly understand your business when they ask for something you haven’t started offering yet. They often learn from the older generations’ mistakes, and if we’re smart, we’ll learn from them.