So what do an endodontist born in China and an auto repair shop owner born in Boston have in common? The answer in a moment.
It’s a commonly accepted business fact that it is easier and less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to get a new one. In spite of this, most small business owners spend a lot more of their resources trying to get new customers than they do keeping the ones they have.
Now don’t misunderstand, I firmly believe that all businesses big or small must always be in pursuit of new customers. It’s vital to keep that sales pipeline filled so that when an existing customer is lost through no fault of the business they can still achieve their financial objectives. It’s human nature for us to take for granted what we have and look ahead to what we don’t have.
As small business owners we have to make a concerted effort not to take the customers we have for granted. As long as there’s competition your customers have a choice. Ok you say, so what should I do? Here are three ways to start:
- Do what you said you would. If you said you would be there at 10 a.m. on Tuesday then be there. If you said you would call back on Thursday…..I think you get the idea. Meeting your commitments tells your clients you are reliable. If you can’t make good on the little things how will your customers trust you with the big things?
- Go the extra mile. Have you ever gone into an establishment and felt like you were an inconvenience to the people working there? In my favorite grocery store if I ask the clerk where something is located they drop what they’re doing and walk me to the spot where the item is. They’re telling me I’m more important than whatever it is they were doing. Doesn’t that leave a more favorable impression than just saying “it’s on aisle six”?
- Follow up and ask for feedback. Here’s what the Chinese endodontist and the auto shop owner from Boston have in common. It was a simple thing really, that probably took less than five minutes. It happened more than five years ago but I still remember it. They both took the time to call me a day or so after my visit, asked me if everything was ok and made sure I was satisfied. When’s the last time you got a follow up call from your mechanic?
If you can start with these things, build on them and make them part of your company’s DNA you will develop a loyal customer base. A loyal customer base who will in most cases pay a little more to do business with you, overlook the occasional mistake you make and most importantly tell their friends what a great company you are to do business with. Give it a try and see what a difference it makes.