Your questions answered – Retaining clients

Q. I’m very keen to keep hold of my existing customers once a job’s been completed. How do I make sure that I retain their business?
A. Don’t panic; remember that you’ve already shown off the best of your business and a happy customer is more likely to come back. It’s true that even the most contented customers can often slip through the net when it comes to catching repeat business. However, there’s plenty you can do to win them back.
It may sound simple, but always provide your customers with plenty of business cards or leaflets to ensure they’ve got your contact details close at hand. Also, exploit your database of clients by carrying out a very targeted advertising or direct mail campaign, so you’re always top-of-mind for any existing or potential customers.
During the initial stages of the sales and marketing process, always aim to get as much information as possible from your customer. Not only does this build up a strong relationship, but it may help you identify potential cross-selling opportunities after the job’s been done. For example, if you’re a plumber who’s been called in to mend a broken boiler, make sure you ask plenty of questions to find out whether they might be interested in other repair/improvement work – i.e. a new en-suite bathroom in the New Year. This is an ideal opportunity to either book in an appointment, explain the raft of services that you offer, or pencil in a time to give the customer a call when they’re ready to do the work.
Don’t be afraid to touch base with your clients on a regular basis. This could be by phone, email or by direct mail. How often you make contact should also depend on the nature of your business. If you’ve fitted windows for a customer then it’s a fair bet that they won’t need your services again for a number of years. But, if you’ve painted the outside of their house then it’s definitely worth calling after just a few months.
Another great way to gain new business, and also retain contact with your current customers, is to ask for a referral. A satisfied customer is always the best advocate of your business. As they say, it’s much easier to convert a warm lead than going right back to square one.

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