Every company I know wants to cultivate repeat business, but few consider how to achieve this. Everyone loses clients, budgets are cut, companies change directions, and some companies don’t survive. But have you ever lost an account you could’ve and should’ve continued to service? Has a customer ever needed new work you could’ve done, but they didn’t come to you? If you have ever lost an account to a competitor, you understand the pain and self-doubt created. What could I have done differently? What did the competitor offer that I didn’t? Why? Here are a few ideas to help you avoid losing that customer in the future.
6 Ways to Cultivate Repeat Business
Be easy to work with
A friend of mine became a new manager for a loan company in a failing branch. The corporate office was considering closing the branch. In three months, my friend made it the number one office in the district. Corporate sent auditors certain they would find loans that didn’t qualify by company standards. The auditors not only didn’t find “bad” loans, but to the contrary, the office received the highest grade possible.
The loan company specialized in high-risk loans through auto dealerships. They would offer loans to potential car buyers that auto dealerships couldn’t finance. Most loan officers waited for the auto dealership to call in applications, then process them. Instead, my friend scheduled visits to every dealership in his area and told the branch manager not to worry about picking and choosing applications; he simply took all the applications and sorted them. So, what could you do to make it easy for your customers to work with you?
Send customers to your customer
If you want to thank your customer, send them business! They may return the favor. Call your customer and inform them of the referral. Don’t accept a gift or charge a fee. Let them know having them as a customer is more than enough.
Make it easy to communicate with you
Ask you customer their communication preference. Don’t assume because you like email or text that they do as well. Learn how and when they want to communicate and then follow up.
Stay ahead of your customer by communicating information pertinent to them, such as the progress of an order, before they ask you. Stay ahead of the game.
Under-promise and over-deliver
Meet or beat your deadlines. Follow through on your commitments and promises. If a deadline is unrealistic, do not agree to it. It’s better to explain why a deadline is not realistic up-front than to miss the deadline. Offer the best product and service to meet the customer’s needs — not necessarily the most expensive.
Set up a time to inspect the work. Follow up on a recent job or determine how an older project is meeting their needs. Ask your customer for their advice and input, then meet with them to complete a survey about your work, their future needs, and referrals. Invite them to a seminar at your office.
Offer to conduct free training or workshops at their office. Introduce them to others in your office with expertise, which could help your customer, whether it directly relates to your product and service or not.
Keep your name in the customer’s mind
Visit, send thank you cards, get opt-in permission for an email newsletter. My real-estate agent from 2001 continues to send me birthday cards, interesting tidbits—even an occasional ticket to an event, and you know what? I recommend her. She did a great job helping me, and her name is front and center.
Knowing how to cultivate repeat business is easier and less expensive than finding new customers. Not that you don’t want both, you do. However, if you offer quality products, excellent service, and have an outstanding reputation then when you cultivate repeat business those customers will send you new clients.
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