People do business with people……

People do business with people they know, like and TRUST.

People may know your business. They may even like your business. But they won’t do business with you or recommend you to others until they TRUST your business.

That’s why building trust in your business is vitally important. But how do you go about building trust in your business? Here are my five top ways to build trust.

Get recommended

Recommendations and endorsements are the life blood of business. What other people say about your business is a thousand times more powerful than anything you say yourself. That’s why recommendations are number one on the list for building trust.

But not all recommendations are equal. Look at the two recommendations below that I have on LinkedIn.

The first is much more powerful than the second. So how do you get more recommendations like the first one? By asking in the right way. It’s a three stage process.

Stage 1 – get a verbal agreement from the client that they will be happy to give a recommendation.

Stage 2 – write to them, reminding them of the agreement and giving them a structure that would be helpful for you. The biggest hindrance to giving a recommendation is not knowing what to write or how to structure it. Take that problem away.

“Hi Jim,
I’ve really enjoyed working with you over the last 3 months and it’s great to see you make such great    progress in your new role. I was wondering if you would be able to give me that recommendation we discussed on LinkedIn?
It would be really great if you could describe:
• How things were before we worked together
• What it was like working with me
• How working with me has changed things for you
I know you are really busy, so I’d be happy to send you a draft recommendation you can edit if that would help.
Regards, Allen”

Stage 3 – thank them.

It’s simple when you know how!

Get qualified

Qualifications give you an independent stamp of authority from a professional body. Some people will only work with suitably qualified people. But what if there are no professional qualifications for what you do? That’s where the phrase “qualified by experience” kicks in. If you are starting out in a business that is related to something you did as an employee, you can refer to the experience gained as an employee.

You can get recommendations from colleagues, bosses and clients from the company you worked for to substantiate that.

You can also write articles, publish papers, write case studies and contribute to discussion groups in ways that clearly demonstrate your depth of experience.

Deliver value

Deliver value to your prospects and not just your clients. Your clients have the right to expect value. That’s what they are paying for. But if you deliver value freely to anyone seeking it you will be demonstrating your expertise (reinforcing you ‘qualifications’) and showing people that you can deliver for them.

If you deliver something of value to someone free of charge they are much more likely to trust you to deliver even more value when they pay. There will always be some cynical people that just keep expecting free stuff, but they are unlikely to ever pay a fair price for anything you deliver so they are not the customers you want.

In my motorhome hire business I soon realised that the customers looking for a deal were ones that expected more and more for less and less and didn’t actually take care of the vehicles. Now if people ask for a deal I suggest they try another company wore in line with their price bracket.

Deliver great service

Whether or not you get formal recommendations, great service spreads by word of mouth and builds huge amounts of trust. In another example from the motorhome business we had one client that went on holiday to France with two sets of friends. The friends had hired vehicles local to them in Bristol whereas out customer had come across to the Hampshire-Surrey border from Kent. The friends were so impressed with the quality of our vehicles and the service we delivered that they have booked their 2018 holiday with us rather than the local supplier.

Don’t despair if things go wrong though. Problems can occur no matter how great the service and attention to detail. It’s how you respond to the problem that determines the perception of quality. The original hire to France that I just mentioned very nearly didn’t happen because we had a major fault on the vehicle. It was covered under warranty but there was no way of getting the work done in time through the dealer. We kept the client fully informed. We gave them options in case we could find a solution, but managed to find another way to get the vehicle fully serviceable. It was that whole open communication process that served as a mark of the quality of our service.

Compare that with a situation I faced some years ago with a local restaurant. We had booked a table for 4 and turned up at the appointed time. The manageress told me she had called and left me am answerphone message several days ago that there had been a mix up and we had double booked with a wedding. I explained that no such message had been received and asked what she was going to do. Her response was that we would just have to go elsewhere. She clearly felt it wasn’t her problem. We had arrived by taxi so had no transport but there was no offer of assistance to call a taxi or find an alternative restaurant. Disgraceful service.

I wrote to the owner who did his best to respond in the right way. A full apology and a free meal for 4 should I be prepared to go back. We did go back for the free meal. The same manageress was on duty but still didn’t apologise and when the bill for the drinks arrived, the food charge was also on there so they had to be asked to remove it. No recommendation for them and the restaurant closed down a few months later.

Awards

My final tip for building trust is to win awards. Even if you don’t win an award, getting nominated and/or being a finalist is still a huge accolade. One that you can shout about for weeks leading up to the announcement of the winner and for years afterwards.

Whatever business you are in, there will be awards for that business type. There will be local business awards in your locations and there will be awards for how you run your business or make use of tools like social media. Whatever the awards they are an opportunity to get your business promoted through someone other than yourself. Even if it is you posting on social media about your nomination, it’s still someone else stating you are worthy of being nominated.

Just this week we had an award winner within the Guildford Hub. Gemma Cockrell of Ways Gone By won the Mpower Women in Business award for Courage. It was richly deserved as Gemma had battled three diagnoses of breast cancer to launch her own range of nature skin care products free of harmful carcinogens. We helped Gemma celebrate at the Hub this week:

Building Trust

Building trust takes time and effort. There are no quick and easy solutions. As with all aspects of business, it’s even harder if you are doing this alone and in isolation. That’s where a business community like the Guildford Hub can help. We provide a supportive, collaborative environment to educate and inspire businesses to achieve more. Why not come along on a Monday morning and see what I mean.

Your first visit is free.

Book here: www.guildfordhubevents.com

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