Designing Strategies: The Blog
It costs five to ten times more to find and cultivate a new customer than to keep one you already have. In addition to the financial cost of bringing new customers into the fold, time and energy expended as well. Sometimes, businesses are overly anxious to finish up a project or fulfill a sale and move to the next one. This leads to a customer being dropped like a hot potato when the next best thing comes along. It seems like a no-brainer to keep existing, satisfied customers, than forgetting about them. Below are several strategies for getting the most from your existing database of past and current customers.
- Add on to current projects — Any time one facility, area or space is remodeled or redesigned, surrounding areas with existing finishes and furnishings begin to look tired and dusty. Suggest adding other adjoining areas to the contract as the project is moving smoothly along. Pointing this out to the customer while they are feeling good about the work you are doing or the product you are providing is a way to expand your scope of work. Suggest how adjoining spaces might be better utilized or productive increased by introducing new, cutting edge products and solutions. Stay alert for opportunities.
- Ask about other projects — As you near the end of a project, use that warm, fuzzy time with the client to ask if there are other projects you can help with. Ask what other plans or projects they have in the hopper that could use your products or servcies. Ask what other problems or challenges they are experiencing that your solutions could solve.
- Stay in contact with customers — Especially in businesses that have long periods of time between projects, it is imperative to stay in touch. The next time a client has a project, you want them to call you again. Develop a plan to reach out to current and past customers on a regular basis. Sent out a company newsletter with strong, valuable content, e-mail daily or weekly tips related to their business or other situations. Drop them a note or letter several times a year. Send a birthday card with a small gift like a Starbuck’s card or special discount, or even a brief personal note from time to time. Send articles of value to them or their business. The idea is to keep your name in front of them enough to keep you their top-of-mind resource.
- Ask for referrals – Try not to hit customers with your request for referrals at the last possible moment as a project wraps up. Early in a project as things are progressing well, mention they probably know others who could benefit from your services or products. Don’t pose your inquiry as ‘Do you know…?’ (which almost always results in a ‘No’ response). Use a more positive ‘You probably know others…’ approach for better results. Tell the client you’ll be reminding them at your next meeting about referrals, but wanted to give them time to think and not put them on the spot.
Why stress yourself, your staff and your budget to find new customers when you haven’t capitalized on the customer list you already have? Let us know in the Comments section below other ways you have used your existing customer base to develop more work or sales.
Terri L Maurer, owner of Maurer Consulting Group, brings extensive business education and experience in the interior design and furnishings industry to help small businesses get on track, strategically focused in the direction for success.