Welcome to week 5 of our Good Foundations series, and this time we’re turning our attention to Dependability. Now, I know that some people equate ‘dependable’ with ‘boring’ or ‘dull’ – but in the heady world of marketing, being dependable is (honestly!) a characteristic we should all be striving to achieve if we want our lovely customers to part with their money, and trust us to deliver the service we have promised.

If your prospects view you as anything other than dependable (trustworthy by another name), they will hold back from committing to buy from you, simply because they can’t be sure you will deliver what they want, when they want it, in the way they want. In other words, they need to feel that they can *trust* you before they’ll part with their valuable cash. This is particularly true in the case of service-based businesses because there isn’t a tangible (remember last week’s blog?) product that they can evaluate.

So, how can we make our prospects feel that they can safely depend on us to deliver? Simple – by demonstrating the following:

1. First and foremost – Do you always do what you say you will? If you over-promise and under-deliver your clients and prospects will soon feel let down and stop trusting you. You do NOT want this to happen as it’s MUCH harder to repair a damaged reputation than it is to build a good one from scratch. Far better to under-promise and over-deliver whenever possible. Clients will love you for it, and they’ll quickly become your best advocates – referring others to you because they know they can depend on you to deliver.

2. Do you turn up when you say you will? If you’re a personal trainer or a builder this means actually physically showing up at the agreed time, but if your business relies less on physical presence you might demonstrate this instead by keeping to agreed times for phone calls, or even sticking to a schedule for your email newsletter, blog posts or weekly Facebook Lives.

3. Do you ensure you always return phone calls within a sensible timeframe? You might even like to publish your target times on your website or social media sites (all phone calls returned within 12 business hours, for example). The same goes for email of course!

4. Does your business have a consistent identity wherever it’s displayed? Do you have brand consistency across colour, logo, fonts, style of image etc, wherever your business shows up? If not, you’re planting the seed of doubt in your prospects’ minds about your dependability.

5. If you make a mistake (we’re only human, mistakes happen in the very best of businesses) – do you fess up and put it right quickly? It’s never a good idea to try to deny it or pass the buck to others. Dependable businesses take ownership of their mistakes, fix them, and then take steps to prevent them happening again.

6. Do you always test your tech and tools for reliability? OK, so we all ‘buy-in’ tools that are indispensable in our businesses, but over which we have relatively little real control (e.g. accounting software, conference call systems, membership management systems, CRMs, etc). However, it’s important to do your due diligence to ensure these systems are – dependable – because they will form the basis of many of the touch points your prospects and customers will have with you – sometimes even the very first touch point. And we all know how important first impressions are. If your video call software cuts out when you’re trying to speak to a prospective client, it won’t leave them with a great impression.

7. And finally – do you try to give as much as you ask? Try to pay it forward – if someone you know is asking for help or advice, and it’s within your power to give that help, do it. We’re not advocating working for free – but a little helpful advice or guidance doesn’t have to cost you much to provide and can quickly start to build a reputation for you and your business as a dependable, trustworthy all-round good-egg.

So, these seven characteristics will help you to demonstrate how dependable you and your business are – what do you think, are there others you would suggest should be included here too? Let us know in the comments below.

Next week we’ll be covering the final characteristic in the series: Accountability. Make sure you don’t miss it.