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Edition 48 – What Line of Business Are You In?

I was washing my brand new Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint one Saturday morning a couple of months ago thinking to myself, what a great car that John Bainbridge of Macarthur Ford sold me. I’ve known John for over twenty years, since his hair was dark and mine was present!

I’ve bought a number of cars off John over the years. Even before I was buying cars off him, I was always popping in to window shop and have a chat with him. He remembered, took stock of our conversations and waited for the day that we finally did business with each other. I’ve already briefed him on my next purchase from the Ford stable, which will also be loud and fast. He might have noted it in his CRM. He might simply store the information away upstairs. However, he knows I’ll be back.

As I’m washing the black duco of this iconic Australian motor vehicle, I was thinking that whilst to most people I’ve bought a new car, I don’t actually consider that John has sold me a car. Instead, he sold me a dream. He sold me the realisation of so many years of wanting “that special car”. In essence, he sold me a lifestyle.

Whilst I’m suddsing up to keep at the task at hand on that Saturday morning, it got me thinking about family business and, in particular:

  1. What do you think you’re in the business of; vs,
  2. What is it that you truly achieve for your clients & customers?

A typical family law Solicitor might help you with your divorce and help guide you through the legal minefield that family law is. A great family law Solicitor, on the other hand, will work with their clients to create a brand new life, free of stress & upset & full of optimism for the future. A lifestyle.

A builder of aged care facilities doesn’t build a building. They’re building a huge leap in the quality of life for those who can no longer live independently. For the families of the residents, you are in the business of giving them no further worries about their loved ones living alone.

Most of us can’t figure this out for ourselves. That’s because most of us are not that good at holding up the mirror and seeing ourselves for who, or what, we really are.

So, the best way to work out what line of business you’re in is to:

  1. Ask your customer why they deal with you?
  2. Ask your staff why they work for you?
  3. Ask your suppliers what is different about dealing with you vs. the myriad of others they deal with?
  4. Have someone work with you to facilitate this process?

By asking outsiders how they perceive your¬†business, you will gain a sense of how your family business is portrayed to the world. How you’re perceived by others may be completely different to how you’ve always perceived yourself. That revised perception may completely re-frame how you consider your family business, what opportunities you see for your business and what market challenges you should be staring down.

This Week’s Tip

If you stop & think differently about the line of business you’re in, what is it that you really do in your business? How does that frame your perception as to who your competition is?