Business advice is rarely, if ever, new. Â We hear these things time and again, but the everyday urgencies of our businesses often force us to put good intentions on the backburner. Â The firefighting mentality is anti-growth. Â In order to expand, ideas like this one, from the American Express OPEN Forum, must be implemented even when it is not convenient to do so:
We are big fans of â€œgrowingâ€ loyalty among Ideal Clients over pretty much any other business building tactic. Itâ€™s the lowest cost sales activity you will ever engage in, since you are already doing business with them, you already know what they want and need, and you can easily find out if they are being wooed by someone else. How easy is that?
And yetâ€¦ we have hundreds of examples of business owners who not only donâ€™t take advantage of this fantastic opportunity, they positively destroy it. See if you recognize yourself in these stories:
A client who spends $100 a month in your hair salon calls to make an appointment only to find her favorite stylist has left. Did you keep a database of all the clients who came to the salon and allowed you to contact them, tell them the news and offer them an incentive to remain a loyal client? If not, you lose $1200 a year.
A customer who has been leasing his upscale cars from you for years needs some emergency service. Your service center is booked up so you tell him youâ€™re just too busy. The customer not only takes the car somewhere else for service, he never comes back. Did you check to see how much that customerâ€™s business was worth and find a way to accommodate him? If not, you lose a lifetime value of $500,000.
A customer buys over a thousand dollars in clothing and accessories from you. He is particular but happy to spend to get the quality he wants. He leaves the store and never hears from you again. Did you add him to your database with a checklist of his preferences so you could contact him when specials were available? If the answer is no, you lose the $10,000 he would have spent with you over the next five years.
What would it take not only to keep those customers, but â€œgrowâ€ their business by 25% without spending a cent you wouldnâ€™t have spent anyway?
The first step is a database of every single customer who does business with you. If you can, link it to your point of sales system, so you know how much they spend, on what, and when. At least, set up a spreadsheet with columns as follows: first name, last name, street, town, postal code, phone, email, and a column you can put an X in for the kinds of products and services they buy. Since your computer already comes loaded with Excel, thatâ€™s free.
The second step is to sign up for an automated email service.Â Sending to up to 500 customers, more than you will ever need, will cost you about $20 a month â€“ almost free. And the first 60 days in many services are completely, 100% free.