One of the best ways to make your company a better place to work while driving up the value of your company is to structure things so that your customers are happy to deal with your employees rather than insisting on speaking with you directly.
You probably know that intuitively, but recently we did some analysis with the 14,000 businesses that use The Value Builder System and I can now tell you that it's scientifically true.
When we analyzed our data we found that the average multiple of pre-tax profit offered to the typical business was 3.7 times. When we isolated those companies where customers insist on speaking with the owner, the multiple dropped to 2.9 times. Likewise, when we looked at companies where the owner does not know their customers personally and rarely gets involved in serving a specific customer, their value went up to 4.5 times pre-tax profit.
To maximize the value of your business and ensure your employees have the elbow room to do their job, your goal should be to quietly slip into the background and let your staff take center stage. Here are eight ways to make customers less inclined to call you:
If you display the bio of key staff members on your website, re-order the list so that it is alphabetical rather than hierarchical.
2. Hire a guru
Today, you're probably the person on your team with the deepest technical expertise in your industry. That probably served you well in the early days but now that your goal is to maximize your company's value, you need someone with more technical industry knowledge to play that role for customers with hard or complex problems.
If your surname is in your company name, consider a re-brand. There's nothing that makes a customer want to deal with the owner more than having the owner's surname featured in the company name.
4. Hire a President
Giving someone the title of president conveys the message that they have real authority to solve customer problems.
5. Use an email auto-responder
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Work Week among other books, made the email auto-responder famous and it can serve you well. Set up an automatic response to anyone sending you an email explaining that you are travelling or attending to a strategic project and unable to answer their question immediately. Instead, train customers to direct questions to the person best suited to answer them quickly.
A word of caution using this strategy: if you continue to answer customer emails after setting up an auto-responder, it's going to become transparent that you're just trying to hide behind your auto responder and it will diminish your credibility and may anger some customers. If you set one up, you need to be ready to let others step in.
6. Take someone with you
If you do need to meet with a customer face-to-face, always have someone on your team accompany you.
7. Let others talk
If you have a group meeting with a customer, insist that your employees play a role. Discuss before what each person's role will be so the customer sees a team rather than you and some helpers.
8. Play hookey
If you have the kind of business that customers visit in person, set up a home office so you can spend more time away from your location.
For a hard charging A-type entrepreneur, the steps above can be difficult and feel counterintuitive. They may even have a short-term negative impact on your company's sales, but once you get your customers trained to go to your team, you'll be able to scale up further and ultimately maximize the value of your business.