Create Value

This is one of the chapters from my recent book on client relationships.  Enjoy :)


Creating value for your clients should be at the forefront of your mind when you work in a service-based industry like engineering and consulting. Here’s the secret to making it work for you: always do more than you are being paid to do.

Let me explain with a quick story.

This kid knocks on my door and he’s probably eight or nine years old. He looks at me and says…

KID: “I’ve got a little push mower and if you want I can cut your lawn.”
STEVE: I said, “Okay sure! How much is it?”
KID: “$25.”
STEVE: $25! That is pretty high!!”
KID: “Okay, I’ll do it for $15.”

He dropped the price right away. I thought it was a good deal.

STEVE: “Oh wow… that sounds great! Can you cut the front and the back part of my lawn?”
KID: “Ok. But if I have to cut the back too it’s $25.”
STEVE: I said, “Okay, fine.”

To be honest, I thought it was quite the rip off (I have a tiny lawn). But when I realized he was only 9 years old and looking to make a little extra cash, I figured what the heck.

Just as we agreed and made our deal, my neighbor looked over at the nine year old and said, “You know why he’s giving you the $25 to do that? It’s because he’s doing you a favor.”

I guess I was. So this young kid starts cutting away at my lawn with his manual mower. I go upstairs and I am typing away on my Macbook.

Ten minutes later I hear him knocking on the door. ‘Geez,’ I thought, ‘Is he already done?’ I go down stairs and open the door, and the kid is standing there.

KID: He looks up at me and says, “I’m finished.”
STEVE: “You’re finished?”
KID: “Yeah, I finished the grass. I am all done.”
STEVE: “Okay, can I have a look?”
KID: “Yeah!”

So we go and we take a look at the lawn – the front and the back lawn. As I’m looking around, I can see all these little mo-hawks everywhere, like he missed a bunch of spots. I looked at him the way my dad used to look at me when I did something wrong.

STEVE: Then I say, “You know, you missed all these spots.”

I am being really particular, but the kid says…

KID: “Okay, I will cut those spots too!”

So I go back up stairs and he goes to trim the spots he missed. Five minutes later he comes knocking on the door again and says, “I’m finished!”

I think to myself, ‘He’s finished? He only spent 5 minutes out there!’

So I go out with him again and walk around to check out the lawn or the second time. He has got those mo-hawks all cut down now – which is good – but I take a closer look and notice he’s missed some spots by the fence. He didn’t trim the edges.

STEVE: “Did you trim the edges by the fence?”
KID: “I don’t have a trimmer,” he says.
STEVE: “Well, you could you use mine,” I say to him.
KID: “Okay,” the kid says.

So I pull the trimmer out of the garage and I show him how to use it. He has never used one before – he’s only 9 years old – but he figures it out and starts cutting away to trim the area by the fence. It’s funny because he can barely hold this grass trimmer. He has his eyes closed and blades of grass are flying everywhere.

Not even 5 minutes later, he comes back and knocks on the door again. I bolt down the stairs and open the door and he says, “I’m finished!”

I go outside and take a look at the fence and the trimming. I thought he did a pretty good job. So I went to give him the money and his mum was actually waiting in her car to pick him up.

So just before I gave him the money, I think to myself, ‘I’m going to ask him a question that will help him.’ Then gently I say to him, “Hey, you know I am curious. Do you want to make a lot more money cutting lawns?”

With a lot of enthusiasm he says, “Yeah!”

Then I say, “Do you really want to have so many clients coming in to pay you to cut lawns that you never have to worry about knocking on another door ever again? In other words, do you want people come and hire you?”

And he is like…“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!”

“Okay,” I said. The next time you go to cut a lawn, make sure to always do more than you are being paid to do. Don’t just do a little. Do more than what you are getting paid and if you do that, you will always have plenty of people sending you money to cut their lawns.”

He goes, “Okay” with a smile on his face and the $25 in hand. He walks over to his mom’s car and they drive off. They funny thing is that six weeks later he came knocking on my door and he asked me if he could borrow some money from me!

I’m not sure he got the lesson, but hopefully you do. Here it is again…

“The next time you offer engineering and consulting, make sure to always do more than you are being paid to do. Don’t just do a little. Do more than what you are getting paid to do and if you do that, you will always have plenty of clients sending you money.”

The same applies to consulting or to any other type of business. Always do more than you are being paid to do.

The more abundantly you give the more abundance you will have. When you give value unconditionally – in other words there is no attachment to your outcome – you will receive more in return than what you are giving.

Employees are the worst for this because they only give a little and expect a lot in return. If you want to make more money in your job, then start giving unconditionally without any attachment to your salary or pay.

You can offer value through your creative ideas or ways for your company to be more productively. You can create value by inspiring others, paying attention to detail and going the extra mile during a crisis situation.

In his book, “Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur,” Sir Richard Branson was asked a really good question that brings the point home. It was during the global financial crisis in 2008-2009 when things weren’t looking too good financially for most of the world. An interviewer asked him…

“What would you say to someone who just lost their job? Someone who desperately needed money, what would you say to them?”

Branson replied… “The most important thing to a business is money. Many people try and think of ways for the company to make more money and that is fine, but the other side of the coin is how can you save the company money. I would tell the person who just lost their job to think of some innovative ways to help that company save money and then pitch it to the CEO or VP or someone of influence at the company. If they see the validity in your idea, then all you have to do is name your price.”

The key is to provide value – to help your clients in innovative ways that makes them better at what they do or helps them profit from your service.

There is so much truth in this. If you can pinpoint the problems that a company has and then propose your solutions for it, they will see great value in your solution and will want to pay you handsomely for that service.

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