It was a fixture on Beechwood Avenue until Saturday night. Yes, our beloved New Edinburgh Pub closed its doors for the last time. I happened to be in Ottawa on the weekend of the closure and it took me by surprise.
I know restaurants come and go. But I was pretty sad and nostalgic about the loss of this well worn corner pub. It was the go-to place for many of our family gatherings - we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and sometimes, nothing at all.
The booth by the window was the perfect perch to people watch and gab. And they'd happily pull a bunch of tables together to feed our big clan.
It was the last place we ate before our 17-year-old son left the nest and moved to Ottawa for the summer...one last meal before launching!
So you can imagine my excitement when I drove by the shuttered Pub the day after it closed and saw a large rack on the sidewalk out front, filled with a hodge-podge of items - everything from pizza pans to shot glasses. They were cleaning out! My son and I doubled back, parked, and grabbed a few goodies. Liam took the practical approach and grabbed glasses, a dish bin and a few odds and ends for his kitchen. I saw some water jugs and thought they would be perfect mementos of our favourite family restaurant.
I was sure my kids would see the sentimentality in these well-loved gems and be super thankful that I was able to score one for each of them. Ahhh...a little piece of history.
Nope. That's not what happened.
My daughter recoiled in horror when I handed her the worn plastic water jug. Ewwww...I don't want that! Even after I explained the sentimental value of these items, she laughed and ran empty handed, away from the car.
My oldest son took a couple of the smaller jugs, not because he felt even a drop of sentimentality but because he thought they would be handy in his kitchen.
Turns out, as usual, I assumed wrong.
That made me think about all the things I might be assuming wrong in my business.
Are you making assumptions about what your clients need, and what they want? Quite possibly.
Here are 3 Things You Should Never Assume About Your Clients...
1. Don't assume they communicate the same way you do.
Understanding how your clients like to talk to you sounds simple but it's so important. Some of my clients prefer email. Some text me. Others use the phone. A few used to prefer carrier pigeon, but I put my foot down. If you haven't figured out how your clients want to connect, you should ask them! (or text them...)
2. Don't assume they have the same priorities as you.
You can assume your clients have the same priorities as you—especially if you’re collaborating on the same project. But you'd be wrong. In fact, your clients often have more pressing work to get done before focusing on the things you're working on together. And chances are, they hired you take on the things they can't put at the top of their priority list. Get over it.
3. Don't assume you know how to best help them.
Lately, I've been simply trying to ask, how can I help? The more I assume what my clients need, the further I get from the truth. That's because I'm not asking, and not listening! Practice listening carefully. Ask questions and get the conversation going. It will help clarify the problems so you can come up with some real solutions. No need to guess. Who knew?
And don't overestimate the sentimentality of your kids. One person's priceless memories are another person's disgusting garbage. Does anyone want a plastic water jug? Two?
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The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small businesses connect with their customers online.