Vincy Workplace
October 8, 2004

Attracting and retaining our valued customers

Building an active, growing client list does not happen overnight. It takes time to acquire customers and even more effort is needed to make them loyal.

Small businesses do not need a large advertising budget to get business, but they do need to spend wisely and be strategic in all efforts. Here are a few low-cost ideas. {{more}}

1. Know your client (habits, likes, dislikes, needs, etc.). Every business has a customer profile; become familiar with yours and strive to anticipate their needs.

2. Offer the best product and look for ways to constantly improve. Some companies improve by offering a wider selection, larger portions, or enhancing the quality. What can you do that’s different?

3. Resolve client problems quickly and effectively. Do you have a complaint policy?

Thank complaining customers; it is their way of telling you that something in your company does not work and it’s your chance to address it.

4. Stay in touch with your clients at least three to four times per year. Customers like to know they are appreciated. Send newsletters, e-mails, surveys, tip sheets or calls. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

5. Treat ALL customers like a VIP. Global competition has given consumers more choices and they decide with whom they do business and when. Explore ways to make your customers feel exceptional whenever they do business with you.

6. Thank customers regularly. Offer special discounts, send thank you cards, give gifts like calendars to express appreciation for their decision to choose your establishment.

8. Form a mastermind group. Identify two to three serious business owners who can serve as a support network. It’s an excellent source of referrals, a sounding board for ideas and motivation to keep pushing forward.

9. Participate in community activities. Consider offering in-kind contributions to non-profits, sponsor local events and sit on community boards. This is a form of FREE advertisement.

10. Look, sound and act professional always, as you are a form of advertisement for your business. Be prepared to do business anytime, anywhere, so carry business cards.

11. Research your competition and stay more than one step ahead ALWAYS. Who is your number one competitor and what are they doing?

l Karen Hinds is an international author, speaker and consultant and president of Karen Hinds Seminars.