stop focusing on the pain

picjumbo.com_Antique-Residence (2000x1333)

don’t assume

My client said something remarkable to me yesterday. We were standing at the counter of her building department waiting our turn to speak with the head of building to determine if he would grant her a retro permit. (Retro permits have become a regular part of my business lately, but that’s another story.) She looked at me and said that she was happy to be where she was, doing what she was doing. Who says those words when they are standing where we were standing? Most people would rather be anywhere else!

This lovely woman is at the back end of a difficult divorce, she’s selling the home she raised her son in, she’s dealing with some serious health issues, and she was out in the world taking care of business. Just like regular folk. She felt normal rather than sad or sick or hopeless. Pulling permits was outside of her wheel house, so she had hired me to do the drawings and lead the charge through a process that is unfamiliar to her. So, in her mind, she was able to get out and ‘be normal’ because of me. For her this was a great success.

it’s not about eliminating the pain

If you read most marketing rags, you will come across ‘pain points’ over and over. You will be told to look for pain points in your clients, or potential clients. Figure out your clients’ pain points, offer them a solution to alleviate the pain, and you will gain yourself a client for life. Looking for pain to serve your bottom line seems awfully opportunistic at the least, and draconian at its worst. And a bit off the mark if you ask me.

Rilke said ‘let everything happen to you: beauty and terror’.

You need more than a pain point to serve your clients well. To serve your clients you need a deeper understanding of their needs, an empathic view of the resolution they are looking for. Don’t assume clients necessarily want us to eliminate the pain, or solve the pain, or make it disappear. Sometimes they need us to teach them to deal with the pain, guide them through the pain, or accompany them on their journey.

To serve your clients you need empathic view of the resolution they are looking for. #partinotes Click To Tweet

see the need

As we go about the business of making a living, we are also in business to provide something to our community, our world, that is useful. Something that makes lives more easeful perhaps, rather than painless. It wasn’t pain that my client hired me to resolve for her. She hired me to guide her, to help her to achieve success over a hurdle that she didn’t know how to conquer on her own. And in so doing, she felt empowered. Her empowerment has gained me a devoted client, not my ability to pull a permit.

fill the need

In addressing any client, we need to look beyond the pain and understand where they want to be on the other side. Then we can step in and be of service. That is where our story needs to begin.

...we need to look beyond the pain and understand where they want to be on the other side. #partinotes Click To Tweet

Keep in touch,

cobweb sweeping



Happy 2015! Yup, I’m back all rested and refreshed from a couple of weeks of sleeping in, making things and eating way too much. With the new year I’ve been cleaning out closets and cupboards and, of course, my overloaded inbox. Before I head full on into a new year I get to read my favorite whiny columns from the food experts of the world. One of my favorites is Marcia Gagliardi’s The Bore. Every year she cracks me up…this year one of her rants is about chefs leaving decorative skid marks on her plate. Truth people. Eater also has a great list with quotes from various food critics. Not as sweetly/tartly written as Marcia’s, but yes, the $17 cocktail has to go. Moscow Mules may be the go-to cocktail, but don’t ask me to pay for that pretty copper cup every time I order one (unless you’ll let me take it with me when I leave). I can make my own at home for a buck fifty thank you very much.

I have my own rant which you will probably hear about more than once this year. Service. What is with the ridiculously crappy service at so many of our restaurants? Is no one doing training these days? I’ll admit, if I’m spending over $50 for an entree the service is usually good. But in the $20 entree range I’m getting Denny’s service. Check this out….these are actual events that I actually experienced:

  • As the server walked by to tell us he’d by right with us he was holding a couple of used water glasses from the recently vacated table next to ours. His fingers were inside the rims of the glasses. A few moments later he walked over with water glasses for us with those very same fingers holding the rim of my water glass. Ew. Keep your fingers out of my stuff. At least when I can see you.
  • The server delivered some un-ordered guacamole to our table at an upscale Mexican restaurant. Of course we ate it, who wouldn’t? When the bill came I mentioned that we hadn’t ordered the guacamole which was included on the bill. Had she apologized I would have smiled and said of course we’d pay for it, because we ate it and it was pretty good too. Instead of apologizing she grabbed the bill and removed the guacamole without any acknowledgment. We’d caught her padding our bill. Wow….seriously. Must have been a guacamole contest that night.
  • Walking into a nice dinner house with a group of about 14 for a holiday dinner, the hostess greeted us with ‘what can I do for you?’ Awkward pause. ‘Um, feed us perhaps?’ It was a small restaurant and we were a large party. Pretty obvious why we were there. Don’t ask stupid questions at the door people. Try being gracious.
  • I ordered my favorite old-timey cocktail in a martini glass. When the server brought it to me she lost her footing and splashed it on the back of my friend’s jacket. She set down what was left in front of me. No fresh cocktail for me and no dry cleaner’s slip for my friend. Sloppy sloppy sloppy. Mistakes happen…fix them. She should have fixed hers.
  • Four of us had dinner together at that same upscale Mexican restaurant. When three of us were done the server cleared all but the remaining diner’s plates so he sat there with the only plate of food still on the table. What has happened to clearing the whole table at once when everyone is finished? Has that become passe? Shame.
  • Eating with my family recently we finished our meal and were presented with a check of about $150. We were not eating on the cheap that night (2 kids well under the drinking age). When the server dropped the check she also cleared the table. By stacking every plate in a pile on the edge of the table then heaving the whole tower of mess over to the scullery. What the f*ck? However the plate is delivered to the table should be how it leaves the table. Plates up the arm people and if you can’t handle that then use a tray.

So yes, can we up the training everyone? There are so many places where the food is remarkable and it is completely ruined by the service. Good service should be the easy part. We’re talking about manners here. Thank you for listening.

Wishing you an awesome  2015….keep in touch,

dear restaurateur….whine

Dear restaurateur, The good people at Consumer Reports surveyed 1003 people (I know, why 1003?), in March of this year to find out what customers gripe about when it comes to restaurants. And very few of the gripes are about the food….so listen up! Most of your customers’ complaints are very very fixable. Here they are in order, […]