The Front Gate

My brother has built a tremendous business creating estate gates in some of the most prestigious areas of the country. For decades he has integrated cutting edge technology with unique design to deliver hand-crafted, one of a kind driveway entrance gates. He coined it as “The New Front Door”, and aptly so. His discerning clients have come to rely on the security, beauty and reliability that the systems provide. In the event a service call is needed, his swift response is matched only by his effort to not just restore or repair an issue, but to improve upon it.

We had dinner not long ago and I asked him about his ‘staying power’ in what could be considered a limited growth space. The question was in the context of how many estate gates can you possibly keep supplying?  His response was pragmatic and thoughtful. He explained how the specifics of each design are tailored to the individual, from “conception to completion”. As families’ needs change, his designs can change with them. When technology advances, his customers want to stay up-to-date. As a result he stays relevant, developing and delivering new ways of home automation. Although he gets referrals, he considers his existing client base to be his greatest source of revenue because he continues to evolve with them. His clients love the aesthetics and feel of driving up to something so elegant and customized.

I thought about the concept of this front gate. Although most of us don’t assemble one in a physical sense, we certainly present one each time our clients interact with us. It’s not just about a mahogany office or an upscale location, it’s a mindset we embody. Whether we work from home, have face to face meetings or simply answer a telephone, the first impression the client gets sets the tone for the rest of the dialogue. They too have an appreciation for passing through a front gate designed especially for them. Keeping a ready reference of upcoming events, milestones, birthdays, local events, new grandchildren, weddings and the like can add such value towards building a solid foundation. An email or call for no reason other than to check in and say hello can be the precursor to unanticipated business, and a relationship that transcends just performance or product.

All too often people sense a rushed feeling, a terse tone, or a scripted interaction. Our front gate mentality can be the difference maker and game changer in how our clients perceive and relate to us. The more we know about them, the better we can evolve with them. There is no one size fits all service model, as each person is so uniquely different. Although it may seem too time consuming to spend a few extra minutes delivering that “wow” factor because there may be ‘more important things to do’ to make money, just remember, there is no revenue in the absence of relationships. The magic happens in the margin.

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