Blog post: Why Sonic Boom doesn’t want clients…
Oh wait. Did we leave something out of that (oh-so-catchy-and-intentionally-somewhat-misleading) headline? I guess we did. It’s not that we don’t want clients – that would be ridiculous. It’s that we don’t want hundreds, much less thousands of clients. Typically Bryan and I are both “more is better” kinds of people – more time in the gym, more laps on the racetrack, more vertical feet of skiing, more chips (I mean as long as we’re indulging…). So it might be surprising that as business owners, we are not opting for a “more is better” strategic plan. Oh sure … our competitors are gobbling each other up through acquisition and boasting of client lists a mile long. I even read recently that one has 6,500 clients. WOWZA! At first the competitor in me felt a little pang of envy…but that lasted a whopping nano-second before I realized we don’t want thousands of clients. Here’s why…
There are two strategic directions a business in the employee-wellbeing industry can take, and they’re diametrically opposed: have hundreds or even thousands of clients … or be exclusive. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” direction here – they’re simply fundamentally different approaches to business. To have a humungous client list, a company must be scalable – exactly how they achieve that varies in a myriad of ways, but it typically means creating simpler, more templated wellness programs that can be easily replicated and recycled many times over.
The second strategic direction – the one we’ve followed since Day One here at Sonic Boom – is the exclusive model. In our case, this means delivering full-bodied, custom-tailored programs with hands-on strategic consultation and white-glove service. We automatize what we can so we’re scalable from the client’s perspective (we serve groups with as few as 200 employees as well as those with 50,000+, so our activities and communications need to be scalable), but we maintain a proactively consultative (and therefore labor-intensive) approach to account management.
While it’s tempting to take on every client that comes our way, we’ve always been selective about our clientele, and have walked away from profitable clients and prospects that were not a culture match or that would not set us up for mutual success. We’ve been careful not to grow too fast, because supporting our current clients has always been more important to us than selling more business than we can handle. We find it gratifying to provide the white-glove service for which we’re renowned, even though to do so sometimes means walking away from business and being picky about the partnerships we form.
When we talk about partnerships, we’re referring to the relationships we have with our clients. Clients are more than simply a source of revenue for us – we’ve made a commitment to them and they to us that’s not unlike that in a marriage. We interact frequently – we get to know our clients’ personal tastes and distastes, we enjoy hearing about new babies and grandkids’ birthdays, and we look forward to our collaborative interactions. We enjoy creating personalized and tailored promotional plans for every client that’s distinctly reflective of that client’s culture and personality. No two promotional plans are ever the same, because no two clients are identical. While we’re technically scalable and always becoming more-so, we sacrifice creative scalability in order to have more personalized partnerships.
We could never do that with hundreds or thousands of clients, no matter how many people we hire. Will that change in the future? Nope. We like what we’ve created and who we are – we like the personal bonds we have with our client-partners, and we appreciate the reputation we’ve earned for providing white-glove, personalized service in an increasingly vanilla-ized industry. So okay … we do want clients. Just the right ones.