Does your business make it easy for clients to do business with you? Are there things you could do better to make your business more customer-friendly?

At home, we have a swimming pool. Here in Australia, we’re coming to the start of summer so we’ve taken the winter cover off the pool and are starting to clean it and get it ready for the first hot spell of summer.

My wife took a sample of our pool water to a pool shop earlier this week and came home with a bunch of chemicals and instructions on how to clean up the pool water.

We started adding the first round of chemicals and tested the water and discovered the ph levels – which had been too high – were now very low. We’d obviously added too much acid and reduced the levels too far.

So today (Sunday) I took another sample to a different pool shop. You see, around where we live there aren’t too many pool shops open on a Sunday.

I walked into the shop and discovered two things – it was empty (apart from me and the staff), and they had a big sign up that said “No Water Testing On Sundays”.  I talked with a staff member and they agreed to test the pool sample and tell me what was wrong with the water.  10 minutes and $45 later I walked out of the shop with a fresh lot of pool chemicals and directions on how to increase the pH level of the pool.

Here’s what I find a bit strange about this experience.  Firstly, I’m quite surprised that very few pool shops actually open on Sundays.  The way I see it, most people do their pool maintenance on weekends, so I would have thought that would be a peak time for pool place to be open.  Most hardware shops experience their busiest times on the weekend – why would a pool shop be any different?

Secondly, if you’re going to go to the effort of differentiating your business by bothering to open on Sunday, why don’t you test water?  You see, the home test kits for pools only measure the chlorine levels and ph levels.  So if I do a home test and then decide I need to buy some chemicals, I’ll go to the pool shop with a set shopping list, buy what I want and then leave.  The tests that the pool shops do, are a lot more comprehensive and test the alkalinity and calcium levels.  This means that the more things they measure, the more things I need to fix in my pool and the more chemicals I have to buy.  By doing a pool water test, the pool shops have the opportunity to open up a conversation with me that could ultimately result in them making a bigger sale.

So why don’t they offer the water testing?

Maybe they’re concerned they don’t have enough staff to cover the selling and the testing?  That’s the only reason I can thing of.  The solution to that is pretty simple – employ more staff if you need to, but promote the fact you’re open and testing water on a Sunday.  This particular pool shop has a good mailing list (I know because I’m on it), and they could easily write to hundreds of customers telling them about their Sunday pool testing service and the benefits of getting a comprehensive water test done monthly.

As a side note, I was impressed with the fact that the staff member had the initiative to test my pool water.  I’ve talked in previous articles about the things to do to exceed your client’s expectations, and I was impressed that she did.  She was responsiveness and she did demonstrate empathy.

So, in your business, what things do you do that aren’t customer friendly?  What’s your equivalent of not testing the pool water on a Sunday?  In my financial planning business I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity to stay open late one night a week, so clients who find it difficult to come in during the day have a chance to come in to see us.

What do you think?  What can you change to become more client-friendly?