Top Strategies for Getting Repeat Business
Top Strategies for Getting Repeat Business
When you first start your business, it’s easy to find yourself obsessively thinking about one thing: getting new customers. But as you build up your customer base, it’s important to think not just about the high of scoring a new fan, but also about keeping your old customers happy. Repeat customers not only supply a steady base of income, but they’re often big brand evangelists, and can be essential in embedding yourself within a community.
However, there can be a bit of an art to turning a one-time customer into repeat business, especially if you operate in a competitive business. The following tips will keep your customers returning time and again — and it will likely help with your referral rates, too.
1. Sell Repeat Purchase Products
Sure, we all want to be the CEO of a company that sells something totally revolutionary and cool. But there’s a reason paper towel manufacturers stay in business: we’ll always want what they’re selling. Still, this doesn’t have to mean that your entire business is constructed around boring but essential repeat items (nor that these items have to be boring at all). Instead, that can be just one part of your business; once customers reopen your door, you can have any number of “cool” items waiting for them.
The same goes for service businesses. Whether you’re a personal chef or a freelance writer, you might offer items like a certain number of meals per month as a baseline, or several basic blog posts, and then add to your offerings from there. In this sense, you can essentially secure yourself a retainer for a certain amount of guaranteed work, for which your customers can consistently repeat.
2. Don’t Compete Solely on Price
If you’re like most people, your many years of consumerism have taught you that cut rate prices are what get customers in the door. While that may be true for the first visit, customers who discover a brand solely through sales and temporarily slashed prices don’t develop a solid relationship with those brands, and tend not to return. Just look at what happens to small businesses that offer Groupons: customers rush in, grab what they’re looking for, and then move on to a competitor when they, too, get on Groupon and offer a similar discount.
Of course, reasonable pricing is always a must, but your products and your service need to offer more value than just this in order to turn casual first time customers into your most loyal.
3. Capture Customer Info and Have a Great Loyalty Program
Even if a first-time customer loves you, they may need a little nudging to return. That’s why it’s so important to capture their information upfront. For online businesses, this can come in the form of an email address submitted during checkout (just make sure you have customers opt-in for your mailing list). If your business model permits it, you can also provide VIP membership access to an exclusive area of your site, where customers can receive special perks.
If you’re a brick and mortar shop, put a fishbowl next to your register and invite customers to submit their business cards for a weekly or monthly giveaway. Offer leave behinds like magnets and pens as a fun last minute gift to customers at the end of the experience. The register is also a great place to collect customer email addresses. If you’re all set up on Foursquare, you can offer rewards to customers who become “king” of your store (i.e. they return more than anyone else within a given span of time). Likewise, there are countless digital loyalty apps available that do everything from offering customized coupons to repeat customers to gamifying the purchasing experience. Check out the loyalty page on TechCrunch for a more comprehensive breakdown of digital loyalty programs, as well as related breaking news to keep you updated on the latest apps.
4. Check Back In
While you never want to feel like you’re nagging a customer, chances are they’ll always appreciate a handwritten, customized thank you note after you’ve finished your business — and receiving one is a sure way to stick out in their minds. Still, don’t take it as an insult if they don’t return in a timely manner. Chances are, they just forgot about you! Try sending a card at regular intervals to check-in or remind them of services they might need. Similarly, some customers (but not all) will appreciate a check-in call to follow up on services. Just make sure this kind of call is helpful, rather than a sales pitch, so that you’re not lumped into the telemarketer category.
5. Do a Great Job
There are countless tips and tricks for gaining repeat customers, but truly the best way to your customers’ hearts is by doing the best job possible. That includes not only being the very best at what you do or offering the top notch products in your industry, but also being great at customer service. Take an interest in your customers. Learn their life stories, or simply their purchasing behaviors. Put down your devices and be truly present when your customers are in front of you. And, for all that is holy, communicate. Doing so is such a rarity in so many industries; you’ll be sure to stand out when you promptly reply to customer inquiries, even if it’s just to say, “I wanted to let you know that I saw your email and it’s important to me. I will make sure to respond with an in-depth answer by X time.” This will make your customers feel cared for, and they’ll quickly develop trust.
6. Scratch That: Do More Than a Great Job
As most successful business people know, customers like to think that they know what they want — but they rarely do. As you complete a job for a customer, always be on the lookout for more opportunities to help. This doesn’t mean upselling per se. It’s more like spotting opportunities to offer maintenance services down the line once the initial product is set up, or anticipating a need and referring your client to a specialist who can take care of that for them when the time comes. If you offer multiple services that would be relevant, let your customers know this before you shake hands for the final time. And no matter what you sell, make sure to offer full guidance from beginning to end. Customers should never feel lost, overwhelmed, or like you don’t care. Instead, they should feel like they have a real ally in everything you’re doing with them.
Nurturing repeat business should be on the top of every business owner’s priority list. With these strategies in mind, you’re sure to keep them coming through your door!
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