Recently I wrote about how computer consultants could find an entirely new set of clients, and maybe even a new place to live, by building connections with hotels and resorts. It only makes sense to develop relationships where one client is in a position to refer you to many more. Additionally, I have also written about the importance of referrals to any consulting career.
This week I had an experience that expanded this concept even further. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but, as with many good ideas, I only discovered it in the course of my work. It is a natural part of any consulting business that you often make clients of people who once worked for you. In my case, a contractor who remodeled part of our house has hired me several times over the last few years to maintain his office and home computers. When he launched a new endeavor, running a high-end photo studio, he called me in once again.
As it happened, this studio was connected to a property management company that owns both residential and office properties. In fact, they were remodeling part of the photo studio building into office suites which were rapidly filling up. Before I really knew what had happened, I became the de facto computer consultant not only for the photo studio and the property management company, but everyone who rented from them. Through this one connection, I have added 3 new clients in the last 2 months. Even better, they are all at one location, so I can make one visit to handle a number of problems. Sweet!
You don’t have to wait for situations like this to just occur, though. There are a variety of ways that you actively and aggressively pursue these opportunities. First, start with your existing clients. Do they have the ability to make you the default recommendation for all their clients? Maybe they haven’t even thought about it. You need to plant the idea in their mind and see if there is a way for you help to make it happen. You should make it as easy as possible for them, too. Give them special business or referral cards and include a code so you can track the source of all your referrals.
Depending on the nature of your current clients, though, you might need to look for other methods of expanding your client base. Using my experience above, one great source could be courting property management companies. As I said, I never really thought much about these companies, but now I keep seeing greater and greater opportunities there. You don’t necessarily have to pursue the big companies that run huge high-rises, either. Connecting with the owner of a local mini-mall, or a small group of office suites, is a great place to start. In some ways, you might even generate more work with these smaller groups since there tends to be more turnover among the clients. Since most of your work will probably come from new tenants moving in, this will probably be a bulk of your work. These small organizations are also a better place to start for an individual consultant like myself. Since the number of clients is limited, and in one geographic area, you should be able to serve them by yourself.
Now, of course, if you can partner with a larger company, it could be a major stepping stone to growing your business into a major consultancy. Think of the number of individual businesses in a typical high-rise. Also, think about the specialized needs of one business over another. You might have medical practices, law firms, online services and more, all waiting for someone with your technical expertise.
Take some time to think about the possibilities and I am sure you will discover a number of ways to expand your business. How about partnering with your banker? If they deal with small businesses getting loans to start their business or expansion projects, the companies might also need help with their technology decisions. Finally, check out all the small computer sales and service shops in your area. Do they offer on-site service? If not, perhaps they would recommend you to their customers.
Imagine all the possibilities and I am sure you will find a lot of opportunities. Can you set up a meeting with the owners of that high-rise office building on the corner? How about the small set of office suites above the dry cleaners? How about that 5-star resort in Beverly Hills, Sedona or Las Vegas? It is possible that their clients might just be your clients, someday, soon.