Ways for Small Business Owners to Turn Patrons into Regulars | In the absence of regular customers, no small business would be able to stay comfortably afloat. So, while there’s no denying that attracting first-time patrons is vitally important, ensuring that they stick around is equally imperative. Like every other aspect of a successful small business, customers should be viewed as long-term investments. Businesses that have had trouble keeping patrons coming back would do well to take a look inward and start making necessary changes. If repeat business is what you’re after, the following pointers are likely to come in handy.
While treating clients with the utmost respect may seem like a no-brainer, a staggering number of small businesses struggle with basic customer service. If this describes your team, make a point of giving everyone a refresher in common courtesy. Not only should every interaction with a client be brimming with politeness, clients should be shown gratitude for their patronage at every opportunity.
In any type of client-based enterprise, deadlines should be regarded as sacrosanct. If you promise to have work done by a specific date, you’d do well to honor that commitment, lest you risk missing out on repeat business. As such, before agreeing to a deadline, you should be confident that it’s one you and your team can comfortably meet. Saying yes to a deadline you know you won’t be able to meet may seem like a good idea in the moment, but it will ultimately hurt your long-term prospects with many clients.
Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t any circumstances that warrant deadline extensions. For example, if a client’s expectations regarding a project dramatically change mid-project, you have every right to request additional time to accommodate the desired alterations. Additionally, if a client is unresponsive in answering clarification requests or okaying new work, a missed deadline may be unavoidable.
If you or a key member of your team encounter a large problem or personal emergency that place a deadline in jeopardy, make sure to inform the client of this ASAP. They may not be thrilled by the news, but they’re sure to be a lot angrier if you wait until the absolute last second to bring them into the loop.
Deadlines can be particularly important to businesses that specialize in making deliveries. For instance, if a client is expecting a bulk fuel delivery, a missed deadline is liable to prove financially strenuous for everyone involved.
Be Willing to Accept Criticism
A willingness to accept criticism will do you well in many areas of life – and small business ownership is far from an exception. Although none of us truly relish receiving criticism, constructive feedback can play a vital role in shaping the way you approach jobs and deal with clients. This doesn’t mean that every piece of criticism you receive is going to be useful, but even when clients come at you with unwarranted critiques, it’s best to just take it in stride. While some clients are more forthcoming with criticism than others, no one wants to patronize a business that refuses to accept criticism of any sort.
Make Sure Expectations Are Clear
Clarity will do you a world of good in your quest to keep clients coming back. As any small business owner can attest, some clients are better at telling you what they want than others. The more detailed the instructions, the less room for error. Conversely, the vaguer a client is with regard to what they expect, the more likely they are to be disappointed with the final product.
To nip such disappointment in the bud, make sure you and your team know exactly what a client expects before diving into a project. In the absence of clarity, you may waste days – or even weeks – of work on something a client doesn’t even want. In addition to having clients make their expectations clear at the outset, take care to check in with them at various points throughout the project to ensure that you remain on the same page.
Loyal customers are the lifeblood of any small business. The more repeat patrons you have, the more robust your enterprise is likely to become. However, if you’re fairly new to small business ownership, turning first-time customers into regulars may seem like a daunting task. While no two patrons are completely alike, there are a number of universal truths with regard to cultivating customer loyalty. So, if you’re looking for effective ways to keep customers back, put the tips found above to good use.