If you find yourself in a position where your customers always insist on speaking with you directly instead of your employees, then you might want to consider shifting your structure so you can improve the value of your business and attract more serious buyers when you are ready to sell.
Here’s why. A business that can thrive without the owner at the center of all its operations is more valuable because processes can run smoothly with OR without you. If you’re too stuck in the weeds, you’ll have a difficult time improving or evolving – and your employees won’t have the opportunity to grow and become advocates for your brand.
To maximize the value of your business, you should set a goal to quietly slip into the background and let your staff take center stage. Here are five ways to make customers less inclined to call you:
Re-rank. If you display the bio of key staff members on your website, re-order the list so that it is alphabetical rather than hierarchical.
Re-brand. If your surname is in your company name, consider a re-brand. There’s nothing that makes a customer want to deal with the owner more than having the owner’s surname featured in the company name.
Hire a President. Giving someone the title of president conveys the message that they have real authority to solve customer problems.
Use an email auto-responder. Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4 Hour Work Week among other books, made the email auto-responder famous, and it can serve you well. Set up an automatic response to anyone sending you an email explaining that you are traveling or attending to a strategic project and unable to answer their questions immediately. Instead, train customers to direct questions to the person best suited to answer them quickly. (A word of caution using this strategy: if you continue to answer customer emails after setting up an auto-responder, it’s going to become transparent that you’re just trying to hide behind your autoresponder, which could diminish your credibility. If you set one up, you need to be ready to let others step in.)
Play hookey. If you have the kind of business that customers visit in person, set up a home office so you can spend more time away from your location.
For a hard-charging A-type entrepreneur, the steps above can be complicated and feel counterintuitive. They may even have a short-term negative impact on your company’s sales, but once you get your customers trained to go to your team, you’ll be able to scale up further and ultimately maximize the value of your business.