I'm an honest person. Ask anyone who knows me to use two words to describe me and chances are they'll be "direct and honest". My former boss added loyal to the mix (I suppose I am, but it sounds too much like a description of a dog!).
Over the summer, I spent a good amount of time working with Karrie Kohlhass (ThoughtShot Consulting). One of the first things she said was "we have to present your authentic voice". If your marketing is authentic, you'll find the right clients. Interesting.
This week, I attended a webinar by Kent Lewis (of Anvil Media fame). The webinar was "Building Brands and Managing Reputations via Social Media". One of the things Kent stated was you have to be honest in your communications.
So I'm feeling pretty good that even the marketing peeps think honesty is the best policy. Now, with that in mind, I have to put my money where my mouth is and behave in my business honestly and directly.
I have a client who is having a tough time in the current economy. I've been working with them for a couple months and I've saved the owner thousands of dollars in taxes this year. I assume he's happy with my work and paying my fee. However, I've been struggling with the client lately because the package they signed up for isn't the package they need now.
They signed up for a large monthly package and now they really only need a quarterly package. What's a girl to do? I can keep taking the money and call it compensation for the money I've saved them. That's an okay thing to do; it's ethical. But is it authentically who I am? No. I struggled with this in the back of my mind for a week. You see, I do have capacity right now, so cutting back my revenue is not a good thing at all.
I met with the owner today. I called the meeting to talk cash conservation (and revenue generation). I honestly expected him to say we should revisit their agreement with me. He didn't. As we were tying up the meeting, I did it. Honesty came before my bottom line. I told the owner that he isn't using the full package he originally bought and due to his current circumstances, he should consider moving to a smaller package.
If a client needed a larger package to accomplish their goals, no one would hesitate to upsell. I rationalize that the reverse should be true as well regardless of the impact on my personal bottom line. It really goes back to treating others like you want to be treated. I would certainly value someone who put my needs ahead of their own pocketbook and I assume that's true of others too.
In this case, the owner was amazed that I offered up this solution. Of course, I took the opportunity to suggest that he refer my great, honest service to all of his friends. Maybe my honesty and authenticity will lead to a better bottom line after all (or at least some good karma).