I consider myself relatively independent. I am not afraid to try something new, and if given the option, I prefer to do it myself: to learn about it on my own and try it out without somebody looking over my shoulder.
That kind of attitude certainly has its advantages, such as getting things done at your desired pace, not having to rely on anyone else, and best of all, avoiding the laughter or criticism of others when you trip and fall.
On the flip side, there is nobody there to pick you back up, encourage you, or help keep you from tripping in the first place. Getting help at the start can mean avoiding common (and potentially costly) mistakes, and it can build trust and confidence that could make whatever you are working on better/faster/smoother/more successful.
More and more, your clients, your customers, or your members want to do it themselves, and they expect to be able to. But they will likely need some help along the way. Are you providing the help they need to be a DIY’er success?
A couple of examples I personally experienced within the past week.
First, the DIY Fail.
My brother is coming across the country to visit next month, so we decided that for part of the visit we would all rent a condo at the beach together. I’m very accustomed to booking travel online, so I started looking. To my delight, there were several sites with beach condos for rent and the ability to book them online. I spent hours looking for the best location at the right size for an acceptable price. Part of those hours were intentional, but part of them were caused by:
Problem #1: we only wanted 3 nights but most places wanted a week minimum. This caused me grief in the search process because many places would appear to be available, but after spending the time to enter a lot of information, I would then get rejected because of that minimum. That did not happen on every site, but on those it did, It was frustrating to say the least.
We finally found what we felt was a perfect setup, it claimed it was available for the desired 3 nights, and it had everything necessary to book it online myself, which I did with great satisfaction. I got the confirmation emails, and I let my brother know we were beach-bound in just over a month. It was a learning experience, but I felt good about having found the best place I could, on my own, and booking it myself. Until I got another email:
Problem #2: just a few minutes after celebrating the confirmation of our trip, I received another email from the vacation rental management company.
“Great choice! Only issue is we require a Saturday to Saturday minimum. Give us a call ASAP if you can make this work or if you are open to another option. Your card has not been processed.”
Fail! I started looking on my own again, but at my brother’s suggestion, I gave in and called the place. I got an extremely knowledgeable and helpful rep named Luke. From him I learned that they have a standard 6 night minimum (that I misunderstood in the Terms and Conditions) but that it can be flexible if it’s closer to the travel dates and the condo hasn’t been booked (hence the ability to book it for 3 nights with the online tool). We were not close enough to our dates, so the owners still wanted to hold out for a 6 night reservation. What to do?
Solution: while on the phone, Luke immediately went into finding mode. Within 5 minutes I was looking at a new place I hadn’t seen during all my independent searching. It was in nearly the same location, with similar accommodations, and best of all, with a lower price tag. Plus, Luke provided expert information and advice helping me get the lower price and feel even more confident about the new reservation than the one I had booked myself.
LESSON: This was a DIY fail on multiple levels, from my own lack of experience and reluctance to get help, to the failure of enabling software to actually enable me. In the end, if I could have talked to Luke or someone like him at the beginning of the process, I could have saved myself a lot of time and wasted effort. The experts in this case had a lot of help to offer, but I didn’t get it until the end. In other words, do it yourself, but first get help!
Second, the DIY Success.
Recently we decided to put wood flooring in the main level of our home, and with that “I can do anything!” spirit, we set out to do it ourselves. Ripping up the carpet was easy. Taking up the tile was more involved, and when it was done, we found ourselves with an area of the concrete slab with some superficial damage that would need to be repaired in order to ensure the new flooring rested on a smooth and level surface. What to do? Hello Google!
Within 10 minutes I was aware of 3 different products that could do the job. The company that made one of those had also made several step-by-step videos showing how to use their products. Five minutes later, I had seen what tools were needed, how to prep the surface, and how to accomplish the task.
Fast forward a week and my slab is patched and ready for the wood flooring. The product was available at the store, looked just like it did in the video, and worked exactly as described and shown. Success!
LESSON: Expert advice up front made all the difference. I could have gone to the store and purchased the patching material without that advice, but I would not have been confident about what I was doing. I could have followed the instructions on the bucket, but it did not provide the same level of detail about surface preparation or tools to use, and it certainly did not show me how to do the job. The finished job would have been sub-par at best. The video I watched at the beginning gave me important knowledge as well as the confidence to move ahead and successfully complete the project. In other words, do it yourself, but first get help!
Technology is enabling the independent DIY’er in all of us more than ever, from booking a beach condo to remodeling your home to managing your investment portfolio. But it is that expertise and human touch that can make a world of difference. If you are diving into something new, look for help at the outset. If you provide services for others, look for opportunities to better provide the help they need up front. You can do it yourself, but first get help!