Image Credit: ActionCOACH
Many entrepreneurs find that despite delivering excellent products or services and having satisfied customers, their business sometimes feels like a roller-coaster. Often, this is because they’re behaving like employees. In other words, they’re working in the business and not on the business. By focusing a bit of attention on ensuring your clients keep coming back, you can ensure your sales become more stable and regular.
I find it strange that more entrepreneurs don’t take the time to invite customers back, instead of sitting back and waiting for them to return on their own. For example, I’m amazed when I look at the number of restaurants I eat at that make no effort to capture my details and communicate with me to get me to come back. And yet it’s such an easy thing to do!
Turn Clients into Raving Fans
Raving Fans are those loyal clients who think you’re fabulous and can’t stop telling everyone about your business. They also send friends and family your way, meaning you not only benefit from their repeat business, but from their referrals too.
You start by making people who give you business for the second time “members”. This gives them a sense of belonging and moves them one rung up the loyalty ladder. Membership might mean a loyalty card system or being added to your newsletter mailing list to receive special offers.
The next step is taking people from being members to advocates through giving them continued great service. Being advocates means they start selling you to others and bringing you referrals. Advocates are one step away from being raving fans, who are like extensions of your sales team.
Getting people to be raving fans requires delivering a “wow” experience to them every time they interact with you. It’s about going far beyond what they expect from you and getting better all the time.
Create Enticing Offers
To get people coming back to you, you need to put together great offers that they can’t resist while ensuring that their business is still profitable for you. The best place to start is by thinking about the types of offers you’ve seen that make you want to respond.
You also need to be prepared to take a smaller profit in the short term to get your customers’ long-term loyalty.
Here are a few ideas of good offers:
• For a beauty salon looking to grow its database: a free 30-minute head, neck and shoulder massage when you book a pedicure.
• For a printing company looking to grow customer loyalty: 20% off the cost of customers’ second order from you over a certain value.
• For a website hosting company: 20% discount on website hosting costs for customers who pay six months’ hosting fees upfront.
Here are a few examples of weak offers:
• Buy nine meals and get the 10th at half price. If customers have come back to you nine times, the least you can do is reward them with a free 10th meal. Nobody will be trying to get to 10 if they still have to pay in.
• 5% off your printing costs. Unless the order is absolutely massive, 5% is hardly likely to make enough of a difference to customers.
• Call now for a free quote! Most businesses offer free quotes. You’re not doing anything to make you stand out.
Strategies for Repeat Business
Another option to consider in encouraging repeat business is to host closed-door sales (sales that are not open to the general public, but only to members). Edgars, The Body Shop and other retailers do this very successfully, but the idea is applicable to other businesses too. For example, if you run a restaurant, you can host a members-only wine tasting event.
Also think about whether it makes sense to have a loyalty program. Again, this has proven successful for big organisations like the airlines, hotels and even health insurance companies (for example, Discovery’s Vitality program), and it may work for your business too. Success relies on how strong your offer is, whether or not you’re providing satisfaction to clients continually, how convenient it is for customers (think of Clicks, which mails loyalty vouchers directly to customers) and exposure. By that, I mean that your program will flop if you and all your staff don’t take it seriously. Make sure that customers are continually made aware of it, and that it comes into play during every sale.
Of course, to ensure you keep getting repeat business, you need to keep working at it. Test, measure, adjust, and above all, keep taking action.
Peg, Pete, Michelle