little girl selling lemonade front yard full-serve 50 cents a glass or self-serve 25 cents a glass using garden hose

The Good Ol’ Days

Have you ever seen the movie, Back To The Future?

One of my favorite scenes is when the hero goes back in time to 1955 and he sees a gas station. A car pulls in, and four guys in tidy uniforms and caps come hustling out with smiles on their faces.

In a matter of seconds, one guy’s pumping gas, another’s checking the oil, a third’s cleaning the windshield, and the fourth’s checking the tire pressure.

Those were the days, eh??

Today, most stations are self-service. You get out and pump your own gas. If you’re lucky, you might find some water and a squeegee to clean your windshield.

You can still find a few stations that offer both self-service and full service.

It got me thinking: what kind of service do we offer our clients?

Is it full service– or is a lot of it just self-service, as in: you’re on your own?

Examples Of Self-Service

You walk into a store and you’re ignored. Or you wind up talking to someone who knows less than you do.

You access a site and it’s a cluttered mess. Or it takes forever to load. Or it’s hard to navigate.

You hire someone to do a job. You don’t hear from them. Finally they deliver something that’s not what you wanted.

Sound familiar?

guy looking at self-serve lemonade stand 25 cents a glass make it yourself using garden hose

Self-Service vs. Full Service

I’m an illustrator, a freelancer, a small business. I provide full service to my clients.

Easy to say, but what’s it mean?

The best way to explain full service is to do a compare.

Here we go:

1. Visibility

Self-Service: You found me by accident.

Full-Service: You found me because I have a strong online presence (website, blog, guest posts, social media).

2. Honest Assessment

Self-Service: Sure, sure, I can do that for you, no problem.

Full-Service: This job isn’t a good match for me. But I can recommend someone else who’d be perfect.

3. Social Proof

Self-Service: Trust me.

Full-Service: I inspire confidence because you can see my work samples, read my client testimonials, and because I demonstrate my expertise by publishing on my blog and high-profile business platforms like Business 2 Community.

4. Options

Self-Service: I can do this one particular thing for you.

Full-Service: I’ve outlined several options, along with corresponding deliverables and fees. Would be happy to discuss.

5. Clarity

Self-Service: OK, I’m on it.

Full-Service: As soon as you approve a certain option (deliverables and fee) and we agree on a delivery date, I’ll get started.

6. Communication

Self-Service: Silence.

Full-Service: Here’s a status report. I’ve attached a JPEG. Would appreciate your feedback on such-and-such.

7. Problems

Self-Service: Sorry this is late. Somebody else needed something.

Full-Service: I’ve hit a few snags– here’s a short summary. Could we move the delivery date back a bit?

8. Delivery

Self-Service: Here it is, hope it’s what you wanted.

Full-Service: Here are the deliverables. Any questions or concerns, please let me know. There are a few things we could do at this point that would add value. Details attached. Please let me know if you’re interested.

9. Gratitude

Self-Service: Silence.

Full-Service: Thank you for your business. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

10. Follow-Up

Self-Service: Silence.

Full-Service: It’s been a few weeks. I just wanted to follow up here. Did everything work out to your satisfaction? Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

little girl selling lemonade front yard full-serve 50 cents a glass

All illustrations by Mark Armstrong.

Originally published on Mark Armstrong Illustration.

A version of this article originally appeared here.