Many smart business owners understand that generating repeat business from existing customers should be far easier than drumming up fresh business from new ones. They will also know that repeat business will only ever happen if their existing customers had a positive buying experience in the first place.
When you are just starting out on your new business and you want to establish your brand, you need to develop good techniques that will attract customers back time after time. This starts at the grass-roots of your business, from the way you greet your customers, to the way you follow up with them after the sale to ensure they were happy with their service.
Building a loyal customer base that will be happy to repeat their business with you is simply creating a fine balance of memorable branding, confident customer service, and great after care. OK this is easier said than done, especially when first starting out, but no successful business has gotten absolutely everything right from day one, and most will have to tweak their techniques quite often to keep up with current social media and marketing trends.
However, there are some steps you can take at the beginning that are tried and tested, and will work for most businesses – then it will be a case of building on these foundations to take your business in the direction you want.
Check that your business idea actually has the potential for repeat customers to begin with. If you are offering a service such as personal fitness training, or you are opening a gym, then you will know that there will always be a section of the local community that will need your services to improve their fitness, lose weight, build muscle strength after an accident, learn a new skill (martial arts). Unless you are building your gym right next door to an existing one, you will be in a good position to get a steady repeat custom.
Check out the competition. If you have to compete with others in the same niche business, then enticing your customers back for repeat sales may appear more difficult. What you have to be careful with here is not to compete on price alone. A price war with a competitor can seriously undervalue your product or service, and you will end up working much harder for less profit.
What would be a better approach is to offer something that your competition doesn’t. If you can give your customers something extra of value for the same price as your competitor, then you are giving them a good reason to return again in future. This could be something as simple as an outstanding and individual customer service experience where that customer is left feeling like one of the family, rather than just a sale.
Make an effort to capture your customer’s information through a newsletter sign-up or encouraging them to follow you on social media. The best way to get your customers to return is to get to know them. Staying in touch with a regular newsletter, or engaging with them on social media will build their trust, and allow them to get to know the people behind your business.
If you have a physical shop or business, then you could offer a free discount card for future purchases in exchange for them filling in a contact form. If you are a B2B company, get them to leave their business cards in a prize draw box. You can then compile their business details offline, and send out printed promotional mailings through the post.
If you run a small company or you are a sole trader, then nothing beats the personal touch! Send out hand written thank you notes with your products – make sure you actually personalise the note with the customers name though. It doesn’t create the same feeling if the note is a generic “Dear valued customer”. This may seem like an old-fashioned approach, but then if no one else is doing it, you will be remembered! Talking of old-fashioned, why not follow up sales with a simple phone-call? You can say more in a 2 minute call than you can get over in an email, so why not try it to see if it helps create some repeat business for you.