SHOULD YOU CALL YOUR CLIENTS BY THEIR FIRST NAME? February 28, 2023 | Business Tips , Marketing | client satisfaction , networking Running a successful business is all about relationships. This notion shouldn’t be a new revelation, but it holds particularly true for the home inspection industry. Strong relationships built with real estate professionals can grow your inspection business. So, how do you strengthen these relationships? And when you’re meeting new people, how do you make a strong first impression? Saying someone’s name is powerful. However, knowing when to use a first name versus when to use a title can be difficult. It’s tough to know the “rules” when different people swear by different social strategies when conducting their own business. To know how to build relationships while portraying yourself with professionalism, here are a few points to consider when you’re deciding how to refer to your clients and other individuals in your business network. A Matter of Respect To some it may seem old-fashioned or overly formal, but many people prefer to be referenced with their surname and title in professional settings. In particular, surnames might be preferred when there is an age discrepancy or said individual has earned a specific title (Dr., Sgt., etc.). In these situations, using surnames is a great way to show respect. Perhaps even more importantly, repeatedly neglecting to use a title or honorific can have major adverse repercussions. Even if the preference is based solely on tradition, forgetting to use a title in reference to a client can come off as unprofessional or even rude. As a result, sticking to surnames in business is a natural conclusion that many small business owners use as a default. Why Use Their First Name? With these reactions in mind, it may be natural to err on the side of caution when speaking with clients, and you might be inclined to never use a client’s first name. However, this notion may be pulling too far to the extreme. Utilizing a client’s first name is a great way to build familiarity, and first names are shown to more reliably capture someone’s attention. According to an article by Inc. , a leading voice in American entrepreneurship, MRI scanning techniques have shown that people have positive reactions to hearing their first names. Unlike other attention-grabbing tools, hearing one’s first name engages more parts of the brain and pulls people further into a conversation. It should be every entrepreneur’s goal to get on a first-name basis with their clients. Using someone’s first name makes you seem more empathetic, and it shows that you remember who they are. Reporters from Inc. also recommend that entrepreneurs attempt to use everyone’s first name in a room when making a presentation. Engage potential clients individually in this way to stand out from the crowd. What's In A Name? Using a client’s name in conversation can come naturally for some. For others, navigating the line between professionalism and personal engagement can be difficult. The main takeaway for entrepreneurs: don’t avoid first names entirely. With any relationships you make in business, default to their surname or title until you’re told otherwise, and when you feel as though you’ve built a solid foundation of familiarity, strengthen that relationship even more by using their first name. Too many entrepreneurs attempt to network without using names at all. Without using your client’s first name, you’re missing out on an opportunity to gain their trust and attention. The solution is simple. If you aren’t certain whether someone would like you to use their first or last name, just ask them! If your client has a name that’s difficult to pronounce, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. And if your name is difficult to pronounce, find a creative way to make your name memorable. Repeat your name a few times in conversation so your client can hear your pronunciation, and consider giving a rhyming word to help, “My name is Sevren, like the number 7 with an R.” These initial conversations are fabulous opportunities to help you learn about your client’s personalities and establish memorable beginnings to your business relationships. Small moments of awkwardness early on could set yourself up to build strong relationships far into the future. For more advice on how to build relationships with your clients, reach out to your NPI Marketing Team ! If you're interested in learning more about a home inspection franchise opportunity, request a free info packet today!