Six Techniques to Increase Repeat Business
We are entering the last half of the year which is the time to ensure you have repeat business. Here are six techniques to help with that objective. You want your clients to keep coming back ....and bring others!
It may seem obvious, but if you only offer one-off services then your clients won’t have a reason to hire you again. For example, say you design websites and that’s the only thing you do. Not a lot of customers need a website design all the time. So, the most that a single client would hire you might be once a year.
So let’s think outside the box. What other design needs does your client have? Changing web pages on a periodic basis? Email template design for an E Newsletter? Matching business cards with all your offerings? Determine what they might need and then create a value added package.
Always treat your best clients better than your prospects or new clients.
First of all, who are your best clients? They’re the ones who have brought you the most amount of business, of course. Also, think of those who’ve referred you to new clients.
“Special treatment” may include discounted rates or unannounced gifts. You can also offer exclusive services for them, something that isn’t even listed on your professional website. Always make time in your schedule for last-minute requirements from existing clients.
Haven’t heard from a past client for some time? Give them a gentle nudge. It’s a good idea to send them a handwritten note and update them on your current initiatives, products, and services. Oh yes, and include two movie tickets. That way there is a reason for them to call you and say thanks and/or you to call them and find out what movie they saw.
Send existing clients a birthday card (a physical card not an e-card, for heaven’s sake!) or another gift. While you’re at it, why not include a discount coupon or a free coupon for one of your products or services. Or, you could do something similar on the anniversary of when you first worked together (either the six-month or one-year mark).
I know, it takes work to keep track of these things. This detail is one of the ways that makes you stand out from your competition. You know what else can distinguish you from your competition? Handwritten notes (or mailing/faxing) an article that made you think of them or one that you know they would have an interest. There’s nothing like it.
Notice how traditional businesses have sales several times a year? You can do the same, depending on your needs. You could celebrate your own birthday or the business anniversary by giving existing clients a special discount coupon or have them stop by for a piece of celebration cake.
An upcoming opportunity is to utilize Thanksgiving as your way of saying “Thank you” to your clients.
If you don’t want to keep discounting your services, invite other freelancers (who offer different services that complement yours) to provide discounted rates to your clients. Put together a discount coupon book and send it to your clients as a gift.
You need an effective referral system in place. Not only does it bring you new clients but having an existing client refer a prospect to you increases their loyalty to you. You see, by referring folks to you, your current client is saying “I stand by this person 100%.” Therefore, it’ll be difficult for him–almost impossible–to hire somebody else when he needs your services again.
You can offer incentives in exchange for referrals, such as a discount on a future project, an outright commission, or a small token of appreciation...remember those movie tickets.
If you’d rather not offer an incentive (some clients don’t want one, either, because it makes them feel like they’re selling to their friends), you can simply give them discount coupons they can send to their friends and associates. It will make them look good and they’ll feel good as well because they’ve been helpful. Always send the referrer a simple handwritten note to show your appreciation to them.
Remember your employees should be an integral part of the referral process. Everywhere they go they should be thinking of asking clients, friends, and family for referrals. Make it a fun process by sending out a taping of an employee who asked for a referral and got one! That will motivate others to do the same.
If you will notice, there’s a common theme running through these techniques. They are all about making your clients feel special, appreciated and loved. So always ask yourself, “What can I do to show my clients how much I value them?” Think of three fresh ideas and put them into motion now.
Until next month,