Johann Wolfgang von Goeth, the famous writer and scientist, was quoted as once saying, “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.” His philosophy couldn’t be more true, and important, when it comes to running a business.
You know it as part of business 101 – always be there for the customer. You are supposed to always be at their disposal, immediately providing your service to them, and continuously be available. In other words, the world of business has taught you that you should sacrifice everything for the customer. But should you really?
The problem with always being there is that actions do speak louder than words. In short, your exceptional availability doesn’t become an amazing “wow” feature to your customer – instead it becomes an expectation. Think about a local store that stays open late or 24 hours, and you can see how that “wow” factor dissipates.
At first, you were kind of excited that it stayed open late or all night, and you appreciated it. You liked the idea that they were there whenever you needed something during those hours, even if you didn’t think you needed it much. After some time went by, you came to expect they would be open. And if you had run out at 1:00 a.m. to grab some antacid, you would have been really ticked off if their doors were locked.
That’s what happens when we make ourselves always available. Within a short period of doing so, when you are not answering the phone on Sunday night, all of a sudden your customer is annoyed and feels you let them down! They came to expect that you would be there at every turn and at all times.
Being available all the time for your customers may sound great initially. “Always at your service” sounds nice to both the new entrepreneur and the customers. But in reality, it is only a matter of time before it will force you to become a glorified slave to your business. It forces you to live in constant anxiety!
They key to business success is not becoming a slave to the work. Rather, it is taking the time to refresh and recharge. You must take a break, and by doing that, you will end up providing a much greater service to your clients.
Here is how you get started:
1. Step one is to tell your clients you will be on vacation for the next three days (even if you are just going to be sitting at home – after all, taking a break from the constant work is a vacation!).
2. During this time, turn off the phone and e-mail. This means that you need to refrain from texting, checking e-mails, etc. Although you may be whining about this step now, just trust me on this. Do nothing related to work. Just detach!
3. Spend those three days doing something else – anything that doesn’t have to do with your business. Spend it with your family, play a round of golf, hit the beach, or just clean the garage. But don’t sit and think about work!
4. Repeat this process at least every couple of months.
The first time you decide to unplug from your business and unwind, it will be weird. I will not kid you! And although you might think that your business is going to fall apart and that you simply can’t make it through the three days without at least checking your e-mail, you will find that you make it through just fine. By the next time you do it, you will have the hang of it and feel more comfortable.
But along the way, something else happens as well. Your spirit and love for your business will be renewed. And when you get back to work, to your clients you will have an energy for your business and for them that you haven’t felt in a long time. And that is a good thing! Don’t become hardened to your business and the service you offer. Do as Goethe recommended centuries ago and rejuvenate!