before during after

As a small business owner, there are many ways to look at your business. I have found that one of the most useful ways is to look at your business as three separate companies, or “business units”:

The Before, During, and After Unit

This line of thinking was taught to me by marketing guru and “I LOVE MARKETING” podcaster, Dean Jackson.

The Before Unit, the During Unit, and the After Unit are each run by a manager. I realize this is not usually the case as many solo entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of employees yet. But stay with me and use your imagination. If you don’t have anyone helping in your business, then YOU will be the manager of each unit.

The Before Unit

You are the manager of the Before Unit. Your only job is to get new clients for the business. You will attract new customers, get them interested in your offering, and then eventually get them to sign up for your product or service. That’s it. 

Everything to do with the customer, before she officially becomes a customer, is your job. In our “Before, During, and After” hypothetical world, you can forget all about what happens when they become a customer and what happens when they become a Past Customer. That’s not your job!

You will do whatever you can to turn leads and prospects into customers. You may nurture them or hit them over the head with a hammer – whatever it takes. Then once they sign on the dotted line, you march them over to the manager of the During Unit and pronounce: “Here is another customer for you”. You walk away leaving your new customer with the During Unit manager and go back to work in the Before Unit.    

The During Unit

Your job as the manager of the During Unit is to provide the best possible customer journey possible. From the time you are handed that new customer, until the time they no longer are considered a customer, that is all you. 

In some businesses, the During Unit is a short period of time. For example, if you sell cars, you find a car for the customer, do the paperwork and watch them drive away. In other businesses, a customer will be a customer for years….or for life! For example, if you sell an ongoing subscription service, you will have a long During Unit.  

Regardless of how long they are in your During Unit, you are responsible for making their time with you smooth and pleasant. 

At the point they are no longer a customer, you will take them by the hand and walk over to the building that manages the past customers. There you will introduce them to the After Unit manager, say goodbye, and go back to working in the During Unit.  

The After Unit

The After Unit is all about staying in touch with your past customers. Depending on your business, past customers can be a goldmine that many business owners overlook. Besides the fact that past customers can become customers again, they can also be a great source for referrals, testimonials, and social media exposure.

As the After Unit manager, you are always thinking of ways to engage your past clients. You will have to be careful not to become a pest, but instead, remind them periodically about you and your business. 

Let’s say you are a Real Estate agent, you sold that customer a house last year and now they are in your After Unit. They may have family and friends that need help from a Real Estate agent. And in a few years, they may want to list that house and buy another one. Do you see the value of staying in touch and making sure they remember you?

Summing It All Up

There is value in thinking of your business as three separate entities with three separate missions. 

When you have your Before Unit hat on, it is easy to forget about all the other parts of your business and focus on how you can do a better job in this area. How can you find that next client? What systems are working well and what systems need your attention? Use the AllClients Landing Pages to attract new clients and then put them on a drip campaign to stay in front of them until they are ready to do business with you.  

In the During Unit, you will put yourself in the shoes of the customer and look for areas to improve the customer journey. For example, you want to provide a consistent and excellent experience for every customer who walks through your door. You can do this by designing automated workflows where every step is thought through and planned. The AllClients CRM will help you build and execute this type of automation.    

As the After Unit manager, you have an easy job. Create a custom email drip campaign to make sure your past customers hear from you every month. Or better yet, use the AllClients monthly newsletter to do the heavy lifting. The idea here is to keep your business top of mind so that when a past customer is in need of your services, they think of you first. 

The Before, During, and After concept is a great way to put the blinders on and focus on each area of your business looking for multipliers to take you to the next level.

When you are ready to put a CRM to work for you, try AllCleints first. Start a free 14-day trial and learn first-hand why we’re the #1 CRM for very small businesses!

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