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HomeMarketingBusiness relationships

Marketing | Business relationships

Long-term success in business is all about developing and managing customer relationships.

Whether you are looking to take on new clients or increase customer loyalty, this section will help make the process easier. Here you will find practical advice on saying no to difficult clients, how to apologise to a client, how to increase customer value, how to get customer testimonials, and much more.

Should clients and prospects become your friends?

27 Feb 15 | Sonja Meyer

Often in business we put up a ‘guard’, but is this the right way to generate new leads? Should clients and prospects become friends? Yes. Here’s why. Read more

Past fave: Client relationships: too close for comfort?

15 Feb 15 | Kate Toon

When working closely with clients it’s inevitable that some relationships will venture from professional into friend territory. But how close is too close? Read more

Golden rules for partnerships

09 Jan 15 | Lynda Bayada

Partners are those you have a mutually beneficial business relationship with. By working well together the results are far greater than going it alone. Read more

Defamation laws: “But it’s my opinion!”

08 Dec 14 | Vanessa Emilio

Sharing your written or verbal opinions can land you in hot water. Learn about defamation, or you could pay. Read more

How to break up with your clients gracefully

29 Oct 14 | Lynda Bayada

The time may come when you have to utter those five little words, “It’s not you, it’s me”. Here’s how to break up with clients gracefully. Read more

Saying NO: How to turn away difficult clients

10 Sep 14 | Andrew Griffiths

Saying ‘no’ is not easy, but it is a skill we need to master. In this article you’ll learn how to politely and professionally turn away difficult clients. Read more

Loyalty programs versus earning loyalty

22 Aug 14 | Samantha Hurst

In many ways, customer loyalty is like trust – it cannot be bought, it must be earned. So let’s look at loyalty programs versus earning loyalty. Read more

Client testimonials: Your questions answered

15 May 14 | Kate Toon

I get a lot of questions about client testimonials and the subject pops up regularly in the Flying Solo forum. So in this article I’ll give you my answers and tips. Read more

Breaking up with my café: It’s you, not me

06 May 14 | Jayne Tancred

I recently had to break up with my favourite café. Here’s why. Read more

Avoid fines: The right way to get reviews

13 Mar 14 | Matthew White

In a previous article I outlined the new guidelines related to customer reviews and testimonials. Today I’ll show you how to keep reviews legal and above board. Read more

Soloists, are you ever really the boss?

21 Feb 14 | Sarah-Joy Pierce and Allan Johnson

Are you ever really the boss? It’s an unfortunate fact of life that everyone has at least one boss, and often many more than one! Allow me to explain. Read more

Testimonials: Know the new laws or pay

20 Feb 14 | Matthew White

It’s nice to be loved by your customers, but be sure that your testimonials comply with new ACCC guidelines, or you could pay an enormous fine. Read more

25 signs you’re a horrible boss

12 Dec 13 | Warren Harmer

Being the boss of a small business means you have better relationships with your employees, right? Not so fast. Check your traits against this list to see whether you’re a lousy leader. Read more

Small-business clients: the good, the bad and the ugly

23 Nov 13 | Warren Harmer

If your clients are small businesses, you’ll know they’re not all ideal – some are far from it. Here’s how to tell the good from the bad. Read more

Podcast: Travelsim CEO talks partnerships

27 Oct 13 | Tim Reid

Tim Reid chats with Jamien Zimmerman, CEO of Travelsim, who took a simple problem many travellers have and solved it with a SIM card you put in your phone when you go overseas. The result? No bill shock! Read more

‘Sorry’ – where does it belong in business?

30 Aug 13 | Warren Harmer

‘Sorry’ is a useful word to say. In our personal relationships, it helps smooth over rough edges and put out flames. But where does it belong in a business relationship? Read more

Forget Facebook – try face-to-face

21 May 13 | Jayne Tancred

Much as I love interacting with customers on social media, I’ve recently been reminded how much more I love talking with them in person. Read more

Four time-saving tips for qualifying your leads

17 May 13 | Amanda Jesnoewski

Don’t let potential customers, clients and contacts waste your precious time with needless meetings and phone calls. Make sure they’re worth your effort by qualifying them first. Read more

Five tips for managing client expectations

08 Mar 13 | Mary Gardam

The key to meeting client expectations is to manage them well in the first place. Make sure your clients know what to expect by focusing on these five areas. Read more

Podcast: How to build customer loyalty

10 Feb 13 | Tim Reid

In this podcast Sam Cavanagh, the National Executive Producer for Austereo, talks about how to create raving fans in your business. Read more

Is there someone you'd like to thank this Christmas?

18 Dec 12 | Peter Crocker

In any business, there are certain individuals who have played a pivotal role in its success. Here’s your chance to show your appreciation with a public display of gratitude. I’ll go first. Read more

Customer retention: How to wow your customers

21 Nov 12 | Amanda Jesnoewski

The cheapest and easiest business you will ever generate is from the customers you already have – if you look after them. Here are five ways to impress your customers and help with customer retention. Read more

How to turn negatives to positives in your marketing copy

12 Oct 12 | Lucinda Lions

As a soloist, sometimes it’s impossible to get to the phone straight away or drop everything for a client meeting. But what could be seen as a negative can be turned into a positive – simply by tweaking your marketing copy. Read more

The key to successful business partnerships

11 Aug 12 | Lynda Bayada

Entering business partnerships is like any long-term relationship, and the biggest factor determining the success of that relationship is having a set of common values. Read more

Preaching to the converted

04 Aug 12 | Jo Macdermott

Strengthening relationships with your existing client base and marketing directly to them is essential for business growth and success. Read more

Improve client relationships with your accounting software

27 Jul 12 | Susan Napper

Making better use of the client database tools within your accounting software can help improve client relationships. Read more

I really want to help you

12 Jun 12 | Robert Gerrish

What do you do when confronted with a perfect fit for your services and yet there’s no indication you’re needed or wanted? The answer is: speak up. Read more

Podcast: How to have a difficult conversation

21 Jan 12 | Tim Reid

In this the episode of the Small Business Big Marketing podcast Tim and Luke discover how to have a difficult conversation. Read more

Video: How to ask for testimonials

12 Dec 11 | Robert Gerrish

If you've ever struggled to obtain testimonials from past clients, or hesitated to even ask, you need to watch this video. Dale Beaumont has a wonderful 4-step process and it's priceless. Read more

How (and how not) to dump your clients

29 Nov 11 | Sam Leader

There’s plenty of help for you if you need to get clients. But what about when you need to fire your clients? Here’s what I think. Read more

How to ask for testimonials

07 Nov 11

Asking customers structured questions: this is what's at the heart of effective testimonials, explains Dale Beaumont. Read more

Re-engaging inactive customers

14 Jul 11 | Deb Pilgrim

No matter how brilliant you are technically or what it is you sell, you’re really in the business of marketing, and you need to be running a continual marketing campaign. Read more

How to have good working relationships in a small office

10 Jun 11 | Lou Mooney

When my business partner and I started out, we laid down some rules of engagement for good working relationships, including ‘employ people we really like.’ Read more

Five ways to engage with customers

28 Mar 11 | Danielle MacInnis

Today more than ever, the customer is in control of the conversation with and about your business. Follow these tips to engage with customers and develop your relationship with them. Read more

Business partnerships: Think outside the jar

01 Feb 11 | Robert Gerrish

Schools have gone back and there’s a sense of quiet relief around the household. Particularly for the geckos in our garden. Here’s why. Read more

Negotiation skills when doing business in China

21 Jan 11 | Matthew Edwards

If you decide to work with Chinese manufacturers you’ll need to be able to navigate an ever-changing landscape of agreements and negotiations. This article looks at the negotiation skills needed when doing business in China. Read more

Doing business in China

13 Dec 10 | Matthew Edwards

China is a uniquely challenging environment for westerners, especially those who don’t understand the culture and customs. Here’s a brief overview of what you need to know when doing business in China. Read more

How energy levels impact business performance

18 Oct 10 | Ben Angel

Many soloists are highly skilled at engaging with their clients and prospects emotionally. Here’s how to take that up a notch and engage energetically as well. Read more

In praise of client testimonials

19 Jun 10 | Gina Lofaro aka the wordmistress

Client testimonials are inexpensive, bona fide, must-have marketing tools that tell potential clients why they should engage your services. If you’re not already using them, it’s time to start. Read more

Increase customer loyalty: Small things, big impact

02 Mar 10 | Linda Anderson

Ever notice that the little things you do in business have the biggest impact on your customers and their loyalty? It’s something we should all think about if we want to increase customer loyalty. Read more

The nine keys to managing client expectations

18 Feb 10 | Amanda Gonzalez

Mismanaged client expectations can be unpleasant, costly and damaging to your reputation. So what is the best way of managing client expectations to stop them biting you on the backside? Read more

How a customer engagement survey boosts profits

13 Dec 09 | Stacey Barr

Why waste time surveying your customers about how satisfied they are with your products and services, when research shows that customer engagement is a far more powerful profit driver than satisfaction? Read more

Kick start your client communications plan

01 Dec 09 | Caroline McDevitt

It’s the silly season, a time when deadlines shorten and a stream of parties loom. And now is a great time to refocus your client communications plan for the year ahead. Read more

New clients: Asking the right questions

23 Nov 09 | Robert Gerrish

One lesson learnt from a decade of coaching is the power and value of questions. Are you asking the right questions? Read more

Client Christmas gifts: hot or not?

16 Nov 09 | Peter Crocker

Up until last year I thought giving clients a gift at Christmas – or at least a card – was a sure-fire winner. It turns out there is a very passionate divide on the subject amongst business owners. Read more

Client testimonials win customers

08 Nov 09 | Lucinda Lions

At Flying Solo LIVE! I was on a panel where we discussed the importance of ‘Making an impression’. At the end of the session, many of the questions related to client testimonials, so I figured the topic was worthy of an article. Read more

Business relationships: Are you easy to deal with?

08 Oct 09 | Linda Anderson

I recently read an article about the value of projecting an image that’s consistent with your personal branding. It reminded me of an encounter I had which prompted me to look at my business relationships and ask “What am I like to do business with?” Read more

Self projection: Exposing the real deal

21 Sep 09 | Robert Gerrish

Listening to comments at the Flying Solo LIVE! event, I was reminded of how quickly others draw opinions from what they see and hear, and what an important role self projection can play. Are you projecting the image you want others to observe? Read more

Meeting your clients' needs

13 Sep 09 | Trish Weston

When cashflow gets tight, a natural response is to start eliminating those expenses that aren’t ‘essential’. How do you meet your clients' needs and ensure that you don’t get crossed off their essentials list? Read more

Understanding 'customer evolution'

08 Sep 09 | Ron McLean

In the current economic climate, getting customers to support your business is even more important than ever. With customers being more discerning with their dollars, you need to understand customer evolution to ensure they support your business. Read more

Why your clients are like dogs

10 Jul 09 | Noel Ranger

I mean no disrespect, but your clients are like dogs and should be treated as such. When they come bounding up to your business with their big hopeful eyes, wet noses and wagging tails, don’t be fooled. Read more

12 signs you should say NO to clients

20 Jan 09 | Heather Smith

Making the decision to say no to clients is not made lightly. Do you know how to recognise when you should say no? No to an existing client, no to future income, no to potential new clients? Read more

Why I don't send Christmas cards to clients

07 Dec 08 | Megan Tough

I spent two years religiously sending Christmas cards to my clients and contacts. But then one year I just stopped. Let me explain why. Read more

Grow your business: Sack a client!

24 Nov 08 | Robert Gerrish

With all this talk of downturn, why not go against the flow and do something radical to grow your business? A client of mine did and she’s still reaping the benefits. If you work with anyone who drives you nuts, you’d best read on. Read more

Getting clients: Who are your people?

26 Oct 08 | Trish Weston

If you’re struggling to find and connect with new clients, then perhaps it’s time to turn to your people. Today, I got a call which dramatically changed the way I viewed getting clients. Read more

Business relationships: How can I help you?

21 Jul 08 | Robert Gerrish

In our business relationships we often tend to focus more on 'what can you do for me?’ rather ‘what can I do for you?’, but is this the best way to create meaningful business relationships? Read more

Being misunderstood

07 Jul 08 | Sam Leader

If there’s one breed of person I have little time for, it’s so called shock jocks. These talk radio DJs earn fabulous sums by making provocative and often offensive comments… all in the name of entertainment. Read more

Client briefs: Asking smart questions part 2

01 Jul 08 | Mark Moore

My previous article on client briefs covered asking smart questions to yield the right information to help you secure contracts. For best results, you also need to consider who, when, where and how to ask these questions. Read more

Client briefs: Are you asking smart questions?

27 May 08 | Mark Moore

Delivering for a new client is of paramount importance. Yet many struggle to do this because at the outset, they fail to obtain the right information about their client’s needs. Are you asking smart questions in your client briefs? Read more

Client meetings: What am I doing here?

28 Apr 08 | Robert Gerrish

I’m as social as the next guy. I love people and I adore lounging around in cafés. One thing I hate, though, is putting on a posh shirt and slogging across town for client meetings only to have my time wasted. Frankly, I’m over it. Read more

Saying sorry: Knowing when to say sorry

24 Mar 08 | Sam Leader

Last year I wrote about the importance of apologising when you know you’re in the wrong. By saying sorry, you encourage feelings of goodwill and show you’re responsible for your actions. Read more

Gift giving: a selfless elf or last minute Dasher?

03 Dec 07 | Sam Leader

Soloists have lots to look forward to in December, with a well-deserved break on the cards for most of us. But it also has its stresses, many of them to do with gift giving. Read more

Stop thief! When customers don't pay

18 Oct 07 | Noel Ranger

Missing: One Word document, three ideas and a truckload of expertise. If seen, please return to Noel Ranger. I've been robbed and am not happy, Jan. Read more

Four unique corporate gift ideas

09 Oct 07 | Peter Crocker

If you struggle with Christmas present ideas for clients, here are three gifts that have worked well for me. Read more

Customer relations: How to apologise to a client

15 Jul 07 | Linda Anderson

Mistakes in business are inevitable, and sometimes your actions will have a negative impact on your customer relations. Now the good news: my advice on how to eat humble pie enables you to admit the error and come out looking good. Read more

Client relationships: When to take on something new

04 Jul 07 | Kathie M. Thomas

If you are new in business and keen to develop new client relationships, it is tempting to take on something you’ve never done before. Or existing clients may ask you to do something unfamiliar. But when is the right time to take on something new? Read more

Ideal clients? Man, you just gotta love big ones

20 Jun 07 | Noel Ranger

Dear big, massive, ideal client, Thank you for getting in touch to request a proposal for my services. I was so honoured when you selected little old me to be officially added to your ‘strategic solutions partners preferred supplier list’. Read more

The importance of apologising

17 Apr 07 | Sam Leader

John-Paul and I got carried away at an auction recently and it reminded me about the importance of apologising. Luckily we weren't buying a house. Instead we were purchasing orchids. Read more

Business partnering: Everyone's a partner

10 Apr 07 | Robert Gerrish

Wouldn't it be wonderful if businesses truly, madly, deeply, partnered with each other? Read more

Grow through your existing customer base

07 Feb 07 | Robert Gerrish

There is real growth potential in a sole trader's existing customer base, but many fail to realise its full potential. Often, more energy goes into attracting new customers than looking after current ones. Read more

Client management: Refusing work

16 Jan 07 | Robert Gerrish

It would be lovely to think we only ever attracted dream clients to our businesses, but unfortunately we also get the occasional stinker. Here I look at client management and why refusing work is sometimes necessary. Read more

Managing customer relationships

14 Dec 06 | Zern Liew

To succeed in business today, you need to develop a real relationship with your customers. An authentic approach to managing customer relationships can help you shine through and win out over your competition. Read more

How to keep customers for life

29 Oct 06 | Peter Griffin

We all know the adage that it’s a lot cheaper to keep customers than it is to get new ones. Dan Kennedy, one of the world’s leading marketers, has conducted a study into why businesses fail to keep customers. Read more

Four ways to increase customer value

26 Sep 06 | Peter Griffin

Your existing customers are people that already know, like and trust you. By focusing more effort on increasing their total customer value, i.e. the amount of money that they spend with you, you are virtually guaranteed to increase your profits. Read more

Customer relationship management: give first, receive later

07 May 06 | Peter Griffin

People buy goods and services from people they know, like and trust. Therefore you should you should focus more on developing customer relationship management processes, rather than the “one step” marketing of some companies. Read more

Four steps to getting customer testimonials

21 Jul 05 | Peter Crocker

Getting Impressive customer testimonials on your website or marketing collateral is a very powerful way to win new business. But how do you get them? Read more

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