The warehouse store Costco is known as much for its low bulk prices as it is for its cheap gas. Here on the expensive, driver-focused West Coast, the Costco gas line can go dozens deep, because the gas runs from 25 to 50 cents lower per gallon. Traffic jams are common. But one simple move could change that.

In the last few weeks, West Coast Costcos added a small electronic sign: A red light/green light that shows passengers when one of the many gas pumps is open. There is already less rubbernecking and confusion.

Clarity and communication with a simple sign. Here's how this could change your own business.

Make it easy for people to find you

I've spoken at a bunch of media conferences supporting Bring Your Worth, and there has been a consistent reminder being shared from the stage: You need a website. You need an email address. You need a way for people to connect to you.

It sounds basic, but, to paraphrase Tara McMullin, we can be so focused on our business that we forget about the business of our business.

When I did my first major book more than a decade ago, I put myself on a scrappy, bootstrapped book tour. I came home excited and exhausted. Weeks later, I found a message in my website spam folder from a major media outlet asking for an interview. It was, like, a month late. I hurriedly contacted the journalist. Still haven't heard back.

Today, my contact info is on my website, it's on my social media, it's on my email signature and most of it is on my business card. If you need to find me, you can find me.

How many hoops does someone have to go through to let you know they exist and want to work with you?

Make it easy for you to serve others

Here's a strongly proven theory: If someone asks for your services on the spot and you can't serve them, then the chances of your having their business later is near nil.

I've experienced this on the road, at book signings, and even when people asked to join the app I founded. You do your pitch or, better yet, do no pitch and you've got them interested. "Great! Can I get it?"

"I don't have any on me, but let's talk later when I have more."

"I ran out of books, but give me your email and I'll let you know."

"I don't have a product yet, but I can text you when our app is available in the store."

This is the equivalent of Costco not having the gas signal: Having an interested party that has no easy way of knowing when they will be served.

There are many, many solutions to removing the barriers between you and the community you need to serve. A few more include

  • always having extra product on hand;
  • creating an automated email list to contact those interested when your product is ready; and
  • investing in an online calendar system (I use Calendly) so people can easily create meetings with you.

The latter was a game-changer for both my consulting and my coaching businesses. You connect with someone at a busy conference and want to have a post-event business meeting. How many follow-ups does it take to make it happen? You meet a potential client and need to set up a time to speak rates and frequency. How long is it until your schedules actually coordinate? For me, it takes a second to send an online link to allow them to pick a time on my calendar.

It is my gas pump signal: This pump is free, so come on in. Where could your business use a gas pump signal?

Published on: Sep 5, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.