Navigating the Dirty Work of Delegation
Most small businesses start with one person. Maybe a spouse or a close friend helps. But usually, it’s just you. You built relationships and earned friends out of your client-base. Do this long enough, however, and you’ll end up at a bit of a crossroads: you’ll need to delegate some work.
You might feel like the idea of shifting some of the work to another individual defies the very thing that made your business successful to begin with. In a sense, that is true. All things considered, people’s decision to spend money on you comes down to whether or not they like you. So, to involve someone new might make you feel like you’re betraying your #clients; or worse, risking their loyalty altogether.
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to bring along another person, whether that be your first hire, an outside contractor, or otherwise, the first thing you should do is find a way to be upfront with your clients. It’s time to establish yourself not as a person - but as a brand - whose values extend beyond your physical presence. But making that transition can be a little tricky.
Here are a few tips you might want to follow to in order to ease the transition:
Bring your new assistant along for the ride.
The easiest way to get your #clients familiar with a new face is to get that new face in front of them as much as possible! Before you’re officially ready to pass the reigns to your new help, bring them along for the ride. Involve them with jobs, even if it’s just to observe. Bring them along for meetings with your clients and work them into the discussion. “Have you met X yet? He’s joining the team and has been helpful with…” etc., etc.
Try your best to avoid the easiest option - the email introduction. The only time that would be preferable is if your correspondence with your clients is entirely digital. If that’s the case, then asking for a sit-down meeting with them might make them think something is up. The main goal is to make introducing your new team member seem natural, and not like you’re just preparing to pass the buck to someone else.
Involve your new help.
What is your new team member’s particular area of expertise? Find something small that you know they can accomplish successfully, and the next time your clients might need something like that done, ask your assistant to handle that.
But be careful how you phrase it! You want your client to believe that service has improved - not that you don’t have time to worry about their smaller query. Tell them that you have a new team member that is good with what they need done and you think they might be able to help them. Be sure to include yourself in the process - but this time as a supervisor.
Adjust your marketing.
Who is on your website? Are you the sole point of contact? Consider adding a team member, or making the point of contact seem more generic. Changing instances of “Call me…” to “Call us…” might seem like a silly thing to worry about; but it can make a world of a difference in the way clients perceive you - especially new ones that you want to condition to think of your business as more than just you.
As far as social media is concerned, spotlight your team members! A few smiling pictures of new folks you have working with you could go a long way to subconsciously introduce them to your clients, as well as engender some trust.
The more you do this, the more opportunities you create for your new team member to develop relationships with your clients: your main goal. People worked with you and continued to spend money on you because they liked and trusted you. If you bring in the right team members, then your clients will end up liking and trusting them as well.
Ultimately this will move you away from being an individual, and into being a brand with a team and a value system. Plus, it’ll help lighten your load and allow you to continue to focus on growing your business even more!