Don’t Offer Services In Areas Where You Are Not A Subject Matter Expert
Often there is a temptation for business owners to take all sales leads that come their way, especially when a business is starting out however, I would caution against offering services in an area where you are not a subject matter expert as this can lead to irreversible reputational damage.
What Are The Consequences?
Loss Of Reputation
As a subject matter expert, customers and potential customers will see you as an expert in your field, and are willing to pay appropriately. If you have some expertise in an area where you customer is looking for advice, you may be tempted or you may be tempted to provide that service at a reduced fee. If you are not 100% confident that you can provide the best advice to your client, there is a risk that the service you provide will be substandard, leading to a dissatisfied client.
Loss Of Trust
Trust is a vital part of the client relationship and as we know, we look to build good client relationships to ensure repeat business. Providing poor advice leads to the erosion of trust, which is often irreversible.
Legal Claims and Insurance
Poor service can be costly to clients and can result in legal claims. Professional Indemnity Insurance can be put in place for services offered but premiums and re-insurance options can be compromised if there are one or more claims.
As an accountant, I have often been asked to provide advice in areas where my knowledge can be limited for instance in areas like tax and investments. I have a basic knowledge in these areas and can probably add some value, but often the areas are complex and need specialist advice.
Previously I engaged a client, as an accountant, without properly scoping the clients project at the start. I discovered, after some time, that the best solution for the client was a tax expert so I was not making good use of my time or the clients time. I referred the client to a tax expert. The client was not too happy as time had passed.
I have worked with a client, in the past, where the clients bespoke back office operating system was not on a platform that I was familiar with. I worked with the client and used this system but was not as efficient as normal. The job was ok but overran and as it was a fixed fee, I took the hit.
What Is The Alternative?
Richard Branson once said “Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and your business will thrive”.
- If you don’t have subject matter in an area of expertise ensure that you hire someone that has the specialist knowledge required.
- Ensure that you build a good network so that if a specific area of expertise is needed you can outsource to a member of your network.
Both of these solutions will not only build your credibility with your client but also with your network and your business will benefit from the potential referrals from both of these streams.
Don’t offer to service aircraft engines if you have only serviced car engines. Letting customers know what you don’t do can often be as important as letting them know what you do. Customers should be for the long-term and being clear about what you offer and don’t offer will help strengthen relationships. Selling something that you don’t have to offer is not a very credible proposition.
- Identify your skills and knowledge and start from there.
- Become an expert within your field.
- Protect your reputation.
- Develop trust at all times.
- Hire the best talent
- Grow your network