I asked the guy who maintains my rider lawnmower what he thought: “Should I pay to have this fixed or just buy a new one?”
“It’s your decision,” he said.
I knew it was my decision; that wasn’t what I was asking. So I asked him again. Same answer. I finally moved on, knowing that I wasn’t going to get his expert opinion.
That’s too bad, since expert opinion is what people are willing to pay a lot of money for.
When my lawnmower guy refuses to give an answer that could help me make a big decision, he’s relegating himself to “hourly fix-it guy” status. That’s okay, but there’s not much leverage in it… the best he can do to earn more money is raise his hourly rate a bit or work a few more hours.
If, instead, he thought of himself as my “small engine adviser,” and helped me make decisions in that realm on my lawn mower, snow blower, chain saw, etc., he could earn more money while offering me more value. Maybe I’d start buying used equipment from him. Maybe I’d pay him a monthly retainer just to have access to his advice. Maybe I’d never consider replacing him for someone who could do the work for $5 an hour less.
The point is, you’ve got an opportunity with your clients to be much more than just an hourly producer. Look for ways to offer perspective, and when someone asks, “What do you recommend?”, recognize it as the HUGE opening that it is.