November 18, 2022
Recently I needed an electrician to do some work in our home. I asked someone whose opinion I trusted very highly of an electrician who performs superb work and will show up at the appointed time.
I received my recommendation and sent a text first thing in the morning. Late that afternoon, I received a reply. He asked what I needed, and I responded with as much detail as possible. He told me he’d be happy to do the work, and that he could do it on a Friday in two weeks.
This answer wasn’t the one I was looking for, as I was hoping to get something done faster than that. The work wasn’t so urgent that I needed someone faster, so I got on his schedule for two weeks out. He came out, did the job quite well, and I was delighted with the recommendation and the service.
Imagine my reaction, though, if the guy had immediately responded to my original query, didn’t ask what my problem was, and told me he could be at my house in 30 minutes.
Some people might see that as quite fortunate for them. For me, given how busy I know that the best electricians often are, I’d suddenly wonder what might be wrong with this guy.
The stench of desperation would be in the air.
In the professional services world, availability can send signals both ways, both from providers to clients as well as the other way, from clients back to providers.
Professional services providers, there’s a downside to sending signals, inadvertently or on purpose, that you’re too available. Your prospective client might think that the reason it's so easy to get an appointment is because you don’t have any clients. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got plenty of business, but they just happened to reach out at exactly the right time for an open spot on your calendar. A client might sense neediness for business which doesn’t exist at all.
Here’s another area of availability which signals neediness: that advertised seminar or workshop advertised which, day after day. always seems to have “just four slots left,” and those slots are offered at a discount “so we can wrap up registration.” Please don’t do this. I dare say that the marginal revenue you get from one or two more buyers isn’t enough to compensate for the stench of desperation inflicted on those who might buy your services in the future.
Recognition of availability flows the other way, too. After telling the electrician what I needed and him determining that I wasn't an emergency call, what if I'd gotten angry that he couldn't come out that day? I'd be signaling I'm not someone he should take on as a client. A decision on his part to rearrange his schedule to take me on in these circumstances would likely prove to be a mistake.
Pay attention to availability, services providers, both how you communicate it, and how your prospective clients communicate their understanding of it back to you.
Image created using Craiyon (Formerly DALL-E Mini)
(This blog post was also posted on LinkedIn.)
©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray
About me: I help solo or small professional services firm owners with the confidence and positioning necessary to improve their pricing and change the trajectory of not only their business but their life.
I have a podcast called The Price and Value Journey, which features interviews with industry leaders and audio versions of my blog posts. You can find the podcast on your favorite podcast app.
I also have a book coming out in 2023: The Price and Value Journey: Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices to Grow Your Business Using The Generosity Mindset.
For more information, go to PriceValueJourney.com