November 8, 2010

Are you afraid they won't need you?

Here's a quick follow-up to my post about giving vs. hoarding, about the conviction that you have to save all your best info for paying clients and never give anything away for free.

Another problem I run into with clients is that, not only do they not want to give anything away for free, but they don't want prospects to learn how to "do it themselves." That is, if I teach you how to do what I do (sewing, carpentry, interior design), you won't hire me to do it!

This is just another path on the road to becoming Stingy McStingerson. You can never teach your prospects everything you know. You can never give away all your expertise -- it's just not possible. Holding back makes you seem less than helpful, and all about the green stuff.

And so what if you do teach someone a trick that they can use when fixing the sink or repairing a bike tire? Does that mean they'll never need you for anything else? In fact, they may still come to you for a bike tire repair or sink fix, because they just don't have the time or inclination to do it themselves.

I have a client who's a seamstress. She's afraid to teach anyone sewing techniques for fear that they won't hire her. Well, guess what. I know how to hem a pair of pants. I even know how to MAKE a pair of pants, although I haven't done it in years. But do I have the time? Sometimes. Do I really like doing it? Occasionally. But for those other times, I take the pants to my seamstress. And for more complicated alterations, I don't even bother doing it myself, because I don't want to take the chance of ruining an expensive item of clothing.

My husband recently needed a bike tuneup for a triathlon. He knows how to do it himself, but he took the bike to a shop because 1) it hadn't been done in a long time and needed a thorough going-over and 2) he wanted to make sure his bike was in its best condition for this important race. He could have done it himself, but might have missed some issues with gear shifting that the bike shop caught.

It's okay to teach your clients what you know. It's okay to show them how to do it for themselves. They will still need you. They will still refer people to you. They will appreciate your generosity and yes, they will repay you with their business.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Ola Silvera said...

This was an eye-opener for me. Thank you for posting it what you're saying makes good sense.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thank you for your comment, Ola. I'm glad you found this post helpful!

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