We all want to do business with people we can trust to keep up their end of the bargain. There is little more stressful than giving our business to someone who turns out to be unreliable. With the push to buy local, there are often good options of local vendors that you can choose to do business with. However, sometimes the tried-and-true businesspeople that you have come to know and trust are not in your immediate area.
What do you do? You have a choice to make, whether to look for a local option or to go with the seemingly “risky” one, to get involved with the out-of-town business owner. From my own perspective, I work with clients nationally, so with internet communication, smart phone, and regular mail and courier services, it has never been an easier time in history to place and complete a long-distance order. You or people you know probably do it everyday! Here are some of the things I do personally in order to build and maintain trust with clients who are researching my services from afar:
– Contracts. Be sure to have them available, just in case. Most of my work is done on good faith, but when clients outside of my local area cannot meet with me in person, I make sure I have a contract available so we can see each other’s commitment in writing. This doesn’t have to be formal; it can even be a preliminary copy of the invoice in PDF format that they can reference, which acts as a contract.
– Regular communication. As fast and easy as email is these days, whether from your computer, iPad or smart phone, make sure to communicate regularly with clients at each step of the process, to set their mind at rest and keep them in the loop of the project.
– Pictures. As part of regular communication, I often take and send pictures of work in progress directly to the client in an email or a text message so that they can rest assured that the project is being completed and that the materials they send aren’t just sitting there! (Believe me, you never know. :))
– PayPal. Make payment smooth and easy using a method that out-of-town clients can utilize without further snail-mail, such as PayPal. The invoice gets emailed and the payment is received. Done.
– Free return shipping. As an incentive for people to book online, I frequently offer free return shipping, so that beyond mailing materials / stationery / guest lists to me, the clients don’t have to do anything else. The less we ask them to do, the better.
Remember, the name of the game is keeping you stress-free!