I Just Met My Daughters

Last week, I wrote about how we were going to Uganda to pick up our daughters ... well, I write you from Kampala now -- and today, we brought the second of our daughters, Hope (age 5), into our care here ... for good.

Two nights ago, we met Lily (age 8 ) for the first time. And, while paperwork legalities are still in process, the really interesting thing was how "ready" she was already -- especially in comparison to her new sister, Hope.

It's all so overwhelming, and frankly, pretty difficult to take a break from the intensity of it all and write a few things, as I need to do today.

But as I see it, there's this extremely interesting parallel to the process of adoption and "attaching" to a family and what happens when a person comes to YOUR office and/or becomes a client.

And the difference between how Lily (fostered by an American, cared for in a private home, and with whom we've Skyped about a dozen times) and how Hope (who's been in a group orphanage, with very little "preparation" for what it would mean to be in a family, and with a seeming hesitancy about any muzungus (foreigners)) have integrated into our home-away-from-home, here in Kampala.

Here's what I've seen...and how it relates to YOUR business:

1) When Lily pulled up to the house, I could hear "DADDY!" being yelled from inside the car. She jumped out, ran over to us and gave us all a big hug. You see, Lily, had been prepped for who we were, what we're about, and what our relationship is going to be like. She was abandoned before the age of 1, at a refugee camp on the Sudan/Uganda border, and has lived the last 8 years or so in an orphanage.

Three months ago, however, a friend of ours (living in Uganda) brought her into her home. When she found out that we were adopting, she asked us to consider this girl. We said yes. Since then, she has been cared for, communicated with (we've exchanged gifts, letters, videos, photos and more), and essentially loved from across the ocean. Our friend has taught her (as have we) what it means to be a Hagerty.

Takeaway for your business: What are you doing to prepare your clients--and leads--for what it means to be one of your clients? When I was directing the marketing for a multi-million dollar tax firm, I had our offices set up signage, client-intro packets, scripts and a whole variety of elements--all of which together communicated "what it means to be our client".

Our clients referred their friends, they came to our offices in a timely manner (with all of their paperwork), they examined their own situations to determine if they needed other services, and they gave us glowing testimonials.

None of that happened by "accident" -- instead, it was a culture we created with regular communication, multi-media touches (newsletters, email, signage, etc) and by having our staff feel like ambassadors of "our" way of doing business.

And, just like Lily, our clients came into our offices knowing what it meant to be one of our clients. Because we'd prepped them.

2) Sweet, little Hope is going to take special attention and care to effectively communicate how much we (already) love her, how we will never leave her, and how THIS lodging transfer is gonna be permanent. Many former-orphans struggle to "attach" to their adoptive families. (The disproportionate number of adoptions are extremely smooth, of course, though the ones that aren't get all the attention -- but this can be a very real dynamic.)

Former-orphans in such cases, typically, have not ever been cared for in a meaningful way. And many of your new (or even regular) clients come to you "burned" by relationships with former tax pros and ESPECIALLY by other businesses, in general.

They need to learn that YOU are gonna be different. That your business is going to communicate with them on a regular basis (and not just to send them a bill). That you are going to recognize their birthday. That your staff will be responsive to their needs. That they can reach you easily.

All things, of course, which we are having to communicate to little Hope.

(One of the coolest things about this process has been to see how Lily has "owned" the process of caring for Hope. Some of your greatest client evangelists will be your new clients -- don't neglect them, and fan that process into flames!)

So my friend ... pay attention to these dynamics with your clients. Make sure that you create a distinct way of doing business, and that your clients understand it.

That's a recipe for deep client relationships ... and deep profits.

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