Can being the customer make you better at business?

At certain points in your life you become a customer of new things. For example when I was on maternity leave, for the first time in my life I paid to do all sorts of baby related classes like massage, music time and my favourite, baby sensory.

Being a new customer or trying a new product is an exciting prospect, it’s a world of possibilities, and if you’re lucky like my friend Vicky, being a customer can even lead to a business opportunity.

Baby sensory, (Vicky’s favourite class too), is basically an hour of visual, auditory and tactile fun, aimed at developing physical contact and communication between you and your baby. It operates as a franchise business. For an initial fee and a rolling charge, you buy the franchise territory, are armed with all the kit you need including a marketing plan, and are fully trained to lead the hour-long classes. On top of that you are secure in the knowledge that you’re buying into a proven business model in a growing market.

Vicky has a clear advantage as a potential franchisee as she’s already been a customer and therefore knows all the things that delighted her and conversely, all the things that failed to meet her expectations.

For example, as the class Vicky went to grew, it took more time for the leader to collect the props between activities. This became frustrating for mums whose babies were getting bored. Experiencing this first-hand gives Vicky a real head-start as a franchise owner and as long as the franchise model isn’t too restrictive, she can deliver a product that parents will love, based on what she enjoyed herself.

Another advantage is that Vicky knows the truth behind how quickly her business might grow. When she started as a customer, there were just 6 parents in her class. The business model suggests she runs at 20 per class but she knows from experience that it will take time and hard work to reach capacity. Her business plan needs to address this.

When Vicky was a customer, she referred 6 friends to her class and as a result got 6 sessions free herself. As the franchisee she knows to account for this in her finances. She also knows it’s a great marketing technique so can plan to maximise its potential.

Being the customer puts a different spin on things. Often customers don’t tell us when there’s a problem, they just up and leave. It’s important as a marketer or business owner, to find out that it’s annoying when it takes too long to collect the props, or that your new customers will come from word-of-mouth so this should be your focus.

Being the customer can help you make better business decisions. So how will you be your own customer?


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