Every small service business gets them: people fishing for free help, or asking twenty questions so they can go off and do it on their own. If you don’t have an established way to help them easily and convert them into paying clients, you are missing out on business and going crazy, I’ll bet.
Cody Heitschmidt (@codyks) mentioned to me that he gets three or more calls a week from people wanting his free advice so they can do their own websites. What can he do to convert these people to potentially paying clients, without driving himself to distraction and bankruptcy with giving free help?
Educate them on your terms
Create a standard booklet you give to people that want to do it themselves. Invest a few hours in creating a simple how-to booklet, and recoup those hours you would normally spend trying to assist the freebie-seekers. You probably have all the info you need on your blog.
Why not do workshops? Charge a modest fee. Then Do-It-Yourself-ers can be encouraged to take the class. This lets you group up the learners, help them all a certain amount, get paid for it, and allow some of them to see that they really do want professional help. Then the next time you get hit up for more free advice, you can hand out a flyer for your workshop.
The goal is to give them some help, but do it in the least time-intensive way possible. And to make them as likely as possible to come back when they graduate to wanting professional help. The more you give away, the more you get, if you are smart about how you do it.
Cody already teaches classes, and he has plenty of clients. But we all need ways to give good customer service, even before the person becomes a paying customer.
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs, whether in a small town, the big city, or in between. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a community project!
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