If You Are Going to Have a Value-Add, At Least Make It a Good One

I often leave my home office and go to a restaurant to eat and work on my laptop. It provides an escape from the house and helps me to continue to get things done. Recently, I had been going to Panera Bread, they have some healthy food items and since they offered free Wi-Fi, it was a perfect combination …so I thought.

Each time I went there, I either could not connect to their Wi-Fi, or it was slower than frozen molasses dripping from a tree. I knew it was time to leave when I had flashbacks of my modem days. I talked to the manager and they basically said they could not do anything about it. That was a load of boloney since a restaurant across the street that used the same service had great WI-FI every time I went there.
As I thought about this poor value-add, I thought about the mistake that solution providers often make. That is, offering a value-added service that is more or less useless. You can still find solution providers handing out the ridiculous 3 or 4 column sheet separating their service features, or value-adds.

The idea of a value-add is to add real and tangible benefits, not fluff. Value is something that will directly help your client in various ways. Perhaps time savings, perhaps better peace of mind, but most importantly it saves or produces greater profit for them.

Fluffy value-added services are offered when a service provider’s services do not have much of a leg to stand on by themselves, so they add lots of twigs to the fire, hoping it will burn into a bonfire. Unfortunately they usually just get some smoke. It is important to take a hard look at your value-ads and perform a financial analysis on how they help your clients, and how much they help them. Also take into account how much that value-add costs you, both in hard costs and soft costs of supporting it. Having that kind of data can make eyebrows rise during your sales appointments, and help make your clients happier and more profitable.

It is additionally important to add additional value-adds to keep things fresh. I know of one company who took a large group of their best clients to a circus. It created greater client loyalty and helped to improve their relationships. A $5 gift card to a coffee shop would not have created the same kind of value.

As I write this I am sitting in another restaurant that is not Panera and I will not be going back there anytime soon because their value-add of providing free Wi-Fi to me, is actually worth more than the food that they serve. In case you missed that … sometimes your value-add can be worth more than your core services. I can get food anywhere, just like your clients can get IT services from a hundred other places, don’t ever forget that.