According to Miriam Webster “one-offs” are limited to a single time, occasion or instance. I see MANY small business owners making the mistake of looking at customers as a one-off and also looking at one-off projects as real opportunities rather than the tremendous problems they really are!
One-offing Your Customers
I know, that sounds kind of bad AND it is! When we are in the trenches selling out products or services it can get really easy to become laser focused and lose the big picture. Your product or service may not be the answer to every problem and it is disingenuous to try and make it fit. Also, getting money from a customer one time (even a lot) but burning the relationship is SO not worth it!
The first goes along with the old saying, “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I worked for a GREAT company a while ago who operated like this. They were SO passionate about their product that they answered every question with “well you should use our product for that…and that…and that”. They also NEVER talked about any solutions other than their product, even if their solution was not in the best interest of the client. Humans recognize quickly that someone is doing this and then apply a filter to the information, always looking for the “gotcha” rather than listening to benefits.
The other half of this is sucking a customer dry with EVERYTHING you can take, burning them out for any future sales and losing your credibility at the same time. I know, a bird in the hand and all that BUT the lifetime value of a customer, their referrals and their goodwill is worth SO much more than taking everything you can get and leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Be honest with yourself about your motivation and make sure that you are doing what you can to serve your clients fairly and they will stay with you, bringing in way more than you could have made on one single transaction.
One-offing Your Projects
This one is SUPER easy for small business owners to do! It is always tempting to bring additional revenue to your company by taking on a project that is SORT OF like what you are doing now. A great example is our blogging product – we sell self-hosted wordpress blogs on Godaddy hosting. We have a 5 page, single spaced process to how to set it up and make it web ready ON GODADDY.
There are about a million other hosting companies and sometimes we have potential clients who would like to use their own preferred host. That is great for them, bad for us. Figuring out how to build blogs effectively on two different hosts would be inefficient, three would be terrible and ten would be absurd!
Make sure that you know EXACTLY what your company does and doesn't do. Have referral partners that you can send people who don't fit to. I KNOW – as entrepreneurs we think we can do anything! Just remember that learning to do something special for one customer may never transfer into revenue from anyone else and takes away time from your core business!