CompaniesMay 30 2013

Good standards and a high-quality service

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ByPeter Williams

This month I will continue the theme but from a different perspective with an emphasis on service.

I have often said that we can learn a lot from other industries and countries and I reflected on this while on my recent holiday to Peru and Ecuador. When my partner and I were planning our trip to South America I conducted an enormous amount of research, largely on the internet. In the end I booked the trip through Llama Travel, a specialist UK travel company. As you will see later, this proved to be a good choice but even as I completed the selection process, it made me seriously question my own business model. As readers know, in addition to being a non-executive director of the Beaufort Group of Companies, I also run a small consultancy business. Like many readers I have built up my business by reputation and word of mouth and in my two years of trading I have attracted more business than I really wanted (I am supposed to be semi-retired).

Clearly it is nice to be in demand but I only ever take on cases or clients where I am confident that I can add real value and while I am not cheap (but as the only doctor of financial planning in the UK you would not expect me to be), I have never lost a client because of price.

Looking back on the past two years I realise that some of the initial inquiries that I subsequently turned down could have been avoided had the potential clients had a better understanding of my business and the services that I could provide. This would have saved considerable time for both the potential client and myself in meetings or conference calls – time that I do not charge for.

The above revelation takes me back to Llama Travel and my South American holiday. In the same way that I used the internet to help me decide who to use, my firm, Williams Goddard Consulting, probably needs a web presence. I am not talking about an all-singing and dancing interactive website, but a simple website that clearly sets out my firm’s philosophy and expertise. While there is a danger that having a website will increase the number of inquiries, it may also filter out cases that are non-starters. Certainly something to think about going forward.