For those that missed Part I last month of our “Hidden money” columns, simply click here to access it.

Last month, we covered the first two major thought questions pertaining to finding your hidden money. The core subject we are covering is internal marketing. Internal marketing is the process of finding your future hidden money inside your existing business.

Here are two additional thought questions around internal marketing:

In your business, are you primarily grabbing just the low-hanging fruit?

Close your eyes and think with me for a moment. If you were hungry and standing at the bottom of an apple tree right now, are you immediately going to leave the apple tree to go look for a ladder? Of course not. You would simply and conveniently grab the low-hanging fruit — the apples that are hanging the lowest to the ground and the easiest to grab.

Be careful with overusing this approach in your business. We might be spending so much time picking low-hanging fruit in our business that we no longer focus on the high-level, more profitable fruit. Why do we do this? Because it’s easier; it’s comfortable.

Many producers (and companies, too) stay in a certain market because they don’t feel they’re worth more. But take courage and stretch! Upwards! Higher!

Don’t get confused. I am not saying that you shouldn’t pick any of the low-hanging fruit.

I am saying pick the low hanging fruit and keep the ladder handy for other opportunities. Don’t get lazy. Remember that picking low-hanging fruit is a complacent, low-energy, passive activity. Picking high-ladder fruit is a strategic, high-energy proactive activity.

The low-hanging fruit will not always be readily available. To prevent large slumps, another diversified strategy must be implemented that will allow you to bring in revenue and use sales volume from a different source.

- Consider identifying a niche market in your area, one that is either not being served by you at all or that’s currently being served by a competitor and you know you can do better than that competitor.

- Consider assigning some of your team members to picking the low-hanging fruit. Others may be specialized and held accountable to focus on harvesting “high fruit.” If I spoke to all your team members separately, would they all clearly know who is responsible for what? That kind of clarity is a big part of gaining team focus. To sustain growth, your business model will need to have that type of balance and agility.

- Remember the Titanic. You remember that huge boat that no one ever thought would sink. Well it sunk. What sank the Titanic was not the ice they could see. It was the ice that they could not see, the ice they didn’t anticipate or plan for. So many people died that day because they did not have enough ladders to get into the rescue boats. Plan to have your ladder with you and available at all times in your business. Because you and your company will die if you do not have other sustainable alternatives.

What are you doing to build quality relationships with every customer?

I hear people say all the time, “Well, Marvin, we treat everybody special.” Okay. I hope that’s working for you. Everybody does want to feel special. Can we focus on something even more special?

Customers want individual attention, and they want to feel significant. They want you to know the details of their life. James Dobson, who has a program called Focus on the Family, once said, “The more you know the details of a child’s life, the more the child feels significant.” Well it’s the same with your customers.

Do you know the deeper details of your clients’ lives? Past that first sale, folks. Deeper than that.

Those deep details are the fiber of quality relationships. And quality relationships are where trackable referrals come from.

There was a special man I met in 1988. His name was Dr. Ralph Dauterive. Dauterive is now a retired dentist and was one of the most influential community leaders that St. Bernard Parish ever had in its entire history. When he would embrace me, he would look deep into my eyes. He would hold my hand with both of his hands. He always made me feel so special.

Obviously, it was Dauterive who got me heavily involved in the St. Bernard Kiwanis Club back in the late ’80s. When he would walk into a restaurant, he would shake every table’s hand. Not just one person. He was an amazing individual. He still is an amazing individual. He is a giver. He is not a taker.

Your clients will renew and refer other business because they have a good perception of you as being significant in their lives. And because they have a good perception of your team. The customer’s perception of good or bad service is the measure of your success or failure. In the end, customer perception, not your perception of what the customer thinks, is all that matters.

I would strongly encourage you to really explore how well you and your team are currently responding to customers’ expectations. When was the last time you probed your clients on how they felt about you and your team? You can get some amazing feedback if you have the courage to ask.

Until next time, stay committed to making marvelous happen!

For more on customer relationships, see:

Managing Customer Relationships: The Interpersonal Opportunity

How would your customers rate your service?

Get to know your prospects — before you meet them

For more from Marvin LeBlanc, click here.