Being in business is an amazing journey, we have had our ups and downs as all businesses do, but in general it's always been a forward progression, past the establishment stage and we're well into the growth stage...
In this time, we had the privilege of working with so many different businesses, with happy clients that have been with us since 2008 and others stepping on board more recently in 2015... Most if not all of those businesses are based in the Hunter Region, around Cessnock and the Hunter Valley, Around Maitland, Rutherford, Newcastle and as far out as Lake and Central Coast. The range of businesses and the diversity of the business owners has been an experience...
Each business owner has their own desires, expectations and their own personal circumstance to take into consideration... Things like their time frames and budgets, their personal understanding and skill level, their perception of how business should run, in contrast with how a business does run, their own circumstance - usually relating to their commitments, their family, the stage of their business and what they are really wanting from your service...
From an initial conversation with a client you generally get a feel as to whether they are wanting that personalised down to earth service or whether they're after black and white - corporate responses from you. We generally offer both to our clients but more often than not, we find clients are more receptive to the personal engagement levels. Which is one of the main reasons we are so transparent. Based on the level of communication with the client and their comfort levels in relation to your interactions you gauge what the expectations are.
Anyone who has researched my business and looked into our processes, our social media, our ncd corkboard blog, has spoken to us in relation to completing a job or booked in work with us - knows that we are family orientated; Natalie Crowe Designs is run by a work a home parent based in Hunter. You will see posts and material in relation to the family; my daughter and I, I do share "Mum" based material, I do share my tips and experience in business, I am upfront when we have circumstances that arise that require my attention at home and within my business, and I quite comfortable with where we are in business and who were are within the community.
We get involved with our community, we support local business, we financially sponsor a variety of services with a sponsorship budget allocated each years specifically so we can back our local community. This year alone we've sponsored a local dance headquarters in maitland $700+ , we made a $1500 donation to a local family; single mother of 3 daughters, who were effected by the Hunter's Super Storm in April 2015. After losing their home in the floods and all of their possessions, they moved into a new premises and refurnished their home, 5 weeks later; a house fire destroyed the family's new home and saw the family again homeless and needing to rebuild there lives... The devastating loss hit home for us, and it was the least we could do to be of assistance to Help the Platt Family and most recently we've sponsored the Police Association of Australia with a $330 donation which will go towards the distribution of the True Blue Journal.
We do have time frames during the years where we have limited service provision - during peak seasons like School Holidays. (which we have started testing processes in order to better serve our clients at this times, but like every business venture.. this is trial and error.) We have had personal circumstance arise where we've had downtime in relations to events happening at home; whether that's been to move premises, to attend training or to review and evaluate our business, attend to my family or a client has had an emergency that needs attending. We do our best to keep clients updated and informed of this and we work through the necessary portals in order to offer our clients the best service.
With relation to our communications and availability, we do offer flexible hours... we do work around the clock depending on our clients requirements, we do have some limitation to our Consultation Hours - usually between 9:30am and 2:30pm Monday to Friday as these times work in around my daughter's schooling.
More often than not, there is a high potential you may receive emails from me in the early hours of the morning. You may find that work you've requested has been completed overnight.. You may find that I am available to talk to you outside of regular proforma "9-5" business hours... Also that we happily contact you on other contact mediums, at your request, which are not "corporate" or the typical business communication mediums, whether that be via your Skype account, Social media or otherwise..
We aim to offer our clients flexibility as we anticipate that this is something that REAL people require... we understand that operating a business around a family needs that, but also that corporate business owners still require that diversity based on their commitments. With that said, we can offer that corporate image and interaction where required, however we base this solely on our interpretations of clients interactions.
For some this concept of personalisation, transparency and flexibility is completely taboo - and some are quite opposed to it, other clients think that this is amazing as it means that their friends in the business really have them covered.
We are happy to work with either client groups and preferences, However, I personally don't believe that provision of service needs to be black and white, I am all about integrity.. This is who we are and how we operate...
Some will get it, some won't. We do try and support each business who contacts us but we don't anticipate to have the capacity to facilitate everyone. We do our best and believe our clients are happy with our service provision to date. If not this time with a particular client, then perhaps next time.... There will always be someone out there waiting for you and your service. It's just a matter of finding your match.
In any case, I've always said it's always best to do your own research, know your material and don't judge a book by it's cover. You may just miss out on something that would truly have benefited you and business, by only glimpsing one perspective.
Have a great day!