How do I do business with you?

I recently had the opportunity to do a presentation to a group of female entrepreneurs. We were talking about Relationship Marketing. One of the things we talked about was the three-legged stool. The three-legged stool is representative of the three things you need in your business to be successful. Miss one and your stool falls over.

One of those legs is communication. I shared stories to give examples of how this works, especially in today’s world. With you, I will share my experience with my recent trip to the wine country here in Ontario.

I like wine. I didn’t always but I do now. White, red, rose, bubbly… I love them all. Each having a reason or place on my dinner table or celebration. I’m no connoisseur. I just like what I like and enjoy sharing a good bottle with my husband and friends. Because I love to support local and I love to try new wines, I try to do a couple of trips to Ontario’s wine region each year. When I go, I select some wineries and we take our time. Going from one to the other based on how the land on the map. Simple. If we have good, friendly hosts, it makes for a great day.

However, we are now living in a world that is learning to do business again amongst our need to keep the spread of a virus to a minimum. Thus, I knew my usual method of heading out to wineries was not going to be possible. Although, I didn’t know what was possible. What I did know is that there a great website for Ontario wineries. This is where I started. I selected a region and started looking at the available wineries.

I selected wineries with the intent to find different varieties and price points. I also knew of a few I didn’t really enjoy and few I loved. I put together a list. About 15 to start. I knew I could only do about 4 and now I needed to reduce the list.

I went to each website of the wineries I had on the list looking for the answers to my questions: Were they open for tastings and if so how did it work?

You may be wondering at this point “Jennifer, what does this have to do with communication?”. Fair question. If I was asking this to do business with these wineries, how many people are asking this about your business? And how will your customer or potential customer know? I know businesses are of various sizes and have various resources. However, you must find a way to communicate with your customers. Right now more than ever, what customers need to know is are you open for business and how do I do business with you?

Let’s go back to the wineries. Many didn’t tell me if they were open for tastings. In fact, the websites had not been updated since COVID or were still only advertising curbside pick up. Those came off my list. Some told me they were open for tastings but didn’t tell me if there were restrictions, limitations, or what their processes for tastings were. Others told me I needed to make reservations and pre-pay for the tastings. Some even made it easier for me and told me how to make the reservations.

In the end, I selected 4 wineries, 4 wineries that told me that they were open for business and how to do business with them. The spots for tastings are limited and thus I recommended booking early and being a bit flexible in your schedule. We ended up driving back and forth along the same road as we travelled to wineries based on our reservation time, not where they were on the map. However, we had a fabulous day. Everything played out as it was supposed to. We had a delicious lunch and found some great wines for gifts this Christmas. We also finished with a delicious Cab Franc. We had time to pull into a park before heading to a small restaurant for dinner.

A perfect day and over 2 cases of wine purchased from wineries that answered the questions: are you open for business and how do I do business with you.

Those that made my initial shortlist but didn’t answer these questions, they were missing the communication leg of the stool. The didn’t get our visit because we didn’t know. There are other businesses that I have looked at doing business with but they also don’t tell me easily if they are open for business or how to do business with them.

Think about your customer or potential customer. What questions do they have and are you answering them easily? If you aren’t sure… reach out to a customer that you know is loyal to you and ask them. You might be surprised by the answer.

I’d love to hear your stories of companies that have done a great job of communicating with you.

“Your ability to communicate is an important tool in your pursuit of your goals, whether it is with your family, your co-workers or your clients and customers”

Les Brown