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While he was alive, Robert B. Parker was my favorite suspense writer.

He wrote a series of novels featuring a wise-cracking private eye named Spencer.

Recently his publisher released a new Spencer novel, even though Parker died a few years ago.

It was not a manuscript Parker left behind.

The publisher hired suspense writer Ace Atkins to take over the Spencer series.

I read the book and grudgingly have to admit that it is so good it reads as if Parker wrote it.

That means new Spencer novels will keep coming out even though the creator is gone.

My point—and I do have one—is that almost no one is indispensable.

That’s a problem, because the more dispensable you are, the more readily you can be fired from your job.

Almost no one is truly indispensable. Even a great employee can be fired at the whim of her employer.

But if you are currently an employee, there are really only 3 ways to make yourself less dispensable.

1. Generate revenue or cost savings in excess of your salary.

Employees who generate a positive ROI (return on investment) on their compensation are usually the last to be let go.

2. Offer a service or skill not readily available elsewhere in your organization.

Technical specialists often have more job security than managers (with outsourcing, this is less true for IT professionals).

3. Start and run your own business.

When you are your own boss, you can’t be fired.

However, your customers can abandon you to buy from your competitors, if they choose to do so.

Here are a few ways to keep customers satisfied and prevent loss of business:

* Don’t be the low-priced service provider. Always being the low bid creates the perception that your service must be inferior. Exceptions? Of course.

* Set your prices in the middle of the top third of the price range for your category of service. This ensures a good profit margin but avoids being priced so high that buyers hesitate to hire you.

* Pick an underserved niche in your market to specialize in. The lack of competition can make you close to indispensable to many clients.

* Always provide exceptional customer service. Never give a customer a reason to question their relationship with you.

* Always provide added value, so that the price you charge seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the value you deliver.

* Find a metric that can be measured to demonstrate how your service makes the client more money, saves money, saves time, or otherwise produces a positive ROI.

The most indispensable business I’ve ever seen was my local Loews right after hurricane Sandy.

They had customers lined up around the block hoping to buy a portable gasoline-powered generator before they ran out.

I can tell you from personal experience that if you don’t own a generator and the lights go out, you will do almost anything to get one.

If you and I figure out how to package our services so they are as indispensable as a generator in a power outage, we’ll be rich I tell you, RICH!

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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