Refer, Don’t Guess

It’s not your job to know everything.

Great mentors say this often: “I don’t have experience with that, but I know someone who does. Can I connect you?”

This does not diminish the mentor in the eyes of the client. In fact, it increases their respect.

Early in our practice, some of our team adopted the “guru on the mountaintop” posture on their client calls. They showed up without preparation; flicked their camera to “on” a minute or two late; folded their arms, leaned back in their chair, and said “So what can I solve for you today?”

No matter what the question their client asked, the mentor would confidently give advice–even if they had no experience with the situation.

Instead of saying, “I’ve never purchased commercial real estate, so I can’t advise you on that deal. However, I can connect you with an amazing person who’s done this kind of deal a hundred times!” they would try to give advice on specific deals. Instead of sticking to the domain of gym ownership–where they were a 10/10 expert–they gave advice on things far outside their zone of expertise.

In other words, they guessed.

Working outside your zone of experience doesn’t scale. Best case, you have to do a ton of research to make the best guess. Worst case, you lose the trust of the client.

For example, if you know a little bit about Bitcoin, and you hear advice about Bitcoin from someone who obviously knows nothing about it, you don’t trust their advice. Right? Because it’s obvious they’re speaking without experience.

Now what happens when that person gives you advice about buying a car? You’re skeptical–because you know they’re willing to give bad advice.

Or think about this: your local politician starts giving out business advice. As an entrepreneur, you know their advice is bad. Do you begin to question their judgment on other issues?

It’s okay to be wrong. But it’s not okay to pretend to be an expert. Far better to develop a network of real experts, and introduce your clients to them.

Over the years, we’ve narrowed our niche more and more. First, we stopped working with businesses that weren’t in the fitness space. Then we stopped working with online trainers. Now we refer BJJ gyms, cheer gyms, and gymnastics gyms to others. Salons, dance studios, contractors, auto mechanics–we attract them all, and we refer out to experts. Investments, HR issues, coach development–we find partners who can help, because we don’t want to hold that knowledge in-house.

Consider yourself a specialist, like a heart surgeon. If a client needs a different specialty–like brain surgery–you’re not doing them a favor by making an educated guess.

Clients don’t leave when you don’t know the answer. They leave when you guess.

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