One of the best business advices I have ever got was this – “do not plan your business strategy around getting new customers. Instead, plan it around getting repeat orders”. It’s a very simple change in thought process, but can bring about drastically different results in terms of business outcome. Here is how you do it.
Offer Random Freebies To Customers : I am in the carpet cleaning business and in my industry, it is not uncommon for business owners to provide free notepads, calendars and pens to customers. However, most times, this is done as a concerted effort – either during a seasonal holiday (like New Year) or as a mandated gift at the end of a transaction. Customers like this, but this is not sufficient to build loyalty. I used to carry small carpet brushes with me when I visit my customers. During my interaction at work, customers often ask me questions about the carpet cleaning process, tips to maintain their rugs, etc. At this point, I take out one of these brushes and ask them to keep it for free. Such random acts often build a level of trust that concerted marketing giveaways don’t provide. Customers learn to trust you for your business and are very likely to call you back for their future needs.
Refer Business To Your Customers : Every business owner knows the importance of “word of mouth” referrals, and they go to any lengths to ask their customers for references. This is a one-way street that can sometimes annoy your customers. I maintained a spreadsheet of all my past customers (domestic as well as commercial customers) which also included details about what they did for a living. This way, when I visit a customer and make small-talk about their work, I can always use the opportunity to connect them to my existing customers. This helps my customers benefit professionally while helping me build trust.
Provide Complementary Consultation For Free : One of the best ways to establish a rapport with customers and earn their trust is to provide free consultation on subjects associated with your product or service. As someone in the carpet cleaning business, I always encourage my customers to reach out to me for questions about “do it yourself” techniques, ways to keep the carpets new, etc. A lot of competitors do not disclose these techniques since that directly impacts their business. But in my experience, being open-hearted with such free consultations have not only ensured repeat customers, but have also drastically improved the word of mouth referrals.
Follow Up Periodically : One mistake that a lot of business owners do is to follow up with their past customers only to ask for favors – either for repeat orders, or to ask for referrals. When you make the conversation about your business, and not about them, then it is a recipe for disaster. A simple way to tackle this is by selectively following up with customers to check on how your product or service is working out for them. For instance, if you sell a product with a six month warranty, make it a point to call them before the warranty period to check if the product is doing good. This way, you communicate your responsibility as the seller and establish a trust factor that will turn them into your repeat customers.
Building a successful business is all about building trust. As the business owner, one should remember to show commitment to your customers and demonstrate your willingness to help. When you do this, it builds trust and as a result, repeat orders.