Goodwill is a highly underrated business asset, one that helps drive expansion and development, helps to create and maintain a loyal customer base and one which has helped businesses, both big and small, survive during low periods and downturns. It's underrated probably because it is difficult to quantify, but it is a measure of reputation, esteem and trust that people place in your business, brand and employees.
Goodwill is an asset which can be nurtured and developed in a number of ways, doing a good job or providing good value for money, for example, but also simple and small things such as being respectful and turning up on time; it may sound trivial but these things are important to people and can be more benficial to your business then you can potentially imagine.
New and repeat customers via word of mouth
Obviously good will can not only help you to expand your current customer base, through word of mouth, for example, but also help you to maintain your existing customers allowing you to benefit from repeat custom. This can be invaluable, think about it this way; if every new customer you ever got in turn referred two of their friends, very quickly you'd have more business then you could handle. Clearly, this is a hypothetical situation and chances are it won't work out this way but you get the point.
Forgiving of small mistakes
Another positive factor relating to goodwill, although one you'll hopefully never need, is that customers will be willing to forgive you if you make a mistake, own up to it and apologise. The trust you've worked hard to establish from your previous positive transactions makes your customers more forgiving as they're aware that this is just a small blip and in no way characteristic of your business.
Adds monetary value to your business
The amount of goodwill you're able to build up within and around your business can actually have a positve impact on the value of your business. Of course, it's a little complicated to determine as goodwill is highly individual to your business, however potential buyers or investors will take into account the reputation and goodwill surrounding your business when making an offer to purchase or perhaps loan.
Goodwill is time consuming although not otherwise difficult to build, particularly if you put yourself in the mindset of ways you can provide your customers with the best possible service. The important thing is to realise that building goodwill is an almost never ending journey, that it won't happen by itself and is something that must be worked at relentlessly. If its done right, the reward is development and growth of your business and a robustness which will see you through the inevitable highs and lows.