I work with owners and managers all the time, talking about various parts of their businesses, but one aspect that gets little thought is the definition of their ideal customer. I realize that we would all like to take care of everyone who calls our business, but we need to put some thought into our ideal. You might be thinking, Why?

Clearly defining your customer puts everyone in your organization on the same page. Left on their own, your people will build an ideal made up of various individual ideas they think might lead toward a successful business. For example: A customer service representative (CSR) who lives in an apartment might tend to book a large number of tenant calls because that is his or her particular life situation. Your business could potentially suffer because your customer should always be the property owner. The CSR doesn’t see the tough time your technicians have with getting work approved, or problems in accounts receivable created by not collecting at time of service.

Without clear definition, your people will make up their own rules. Dispatch fees and trip charges are another area in need of clarity. Left with a choice, our people will waive those fees if the sun rises, but your customer is someone who doesn’t think twice about a charge to send a highly trained professional to their home. If someone can’t afford an initial $99 charge then what are they going to do when it’s time to pay for the repair?

In a company where the customer is clearly defined, your CSR might tell the person who has an issue with the dispatch fee that, “All of our customers pay that fee to have us send a technician to their home.” In a business with a clearly defined customer, if your CSR still encounters resistance, he or she might wish the customer the best of luck. But have the CSR remind them that if anything goes wrong or doesn’t feel right with one of the companies coming out for free, please give us a call back — we would love to come to your home and design a solution to perfectly meet your needs for only $99.

Customer definition is done by every industry in all aspects of business. We who work in the trades are a bit behind in this aspect, because we want to help everyone. Make a run at defining your customer. Get everyone in your organization involved. Then start to craft your business to best serve those people.