Growing your business (part 2)
In the last article we looked at the strategy of finding new customers. The next strategy for increasing sales or income in your business is to increase the transaction frequency with your customers. Some experts believe that the most important strategy for business growth is to increase the sales you make with a customer over a certain period.
Having regular loyal customers is important for any business. To have them return more frequently to your business can have a dramatic impact on your income.
Customers regularly coming back to your business are important. Simple loyalty or retention strategies can often be applied with minimal costs. Many coffee shops, hairdressers and even bakeries use a simple ‘loyalty card’ and reward customers on every 5th or 10th visit with something extra (often also requiring an extra purchase in order to redeem the extra value on offer).
Some businesses have established databases of their customers’ needs and use this as the basis for communication at around the time of the next need. For example dentists and other health professionals have used the reminder system for years (don’t we all dread getting the dentist reminder letters!)
To demonstrate how important reminders can be, consider mechanics. I know that we receive letters from Mazda just before our next service reminding us of the importance of regular servicing to protect our investment. Continuing the theme of mechanics:
A few years ago I was having my car serviced with a motor mechanic who has an excellent reputation in his field. I asked him how his business was going? He said “slow, customers were dragging out their services and instead of coming in every 7-8 months were now returning after 10 months”. As a result he had to let go of 2 staff members with 20+ years of experience.
I asked him if he sent out reminder letters to his clients and his response shocked me “my customers know when their cars need servicing, and don’t need reminders from me!”.
By not following up his customers, he was losing valuable income that was affecting his viability and resulting in 2 skilled mechanics now unemployed and affecting their ability to provide for their families.
The idea is to encourage your clients to come back regularly and if possible shorten the time between visits. Over time the customer buys more frequently without really noticing. Had the mechanic started reminding his customers at 5 months for their 6 monthly services then he may have been able to reduce the time between services to 6 months resulting in increased income. Instead of laying off staff and could have been employing more staff.
This can also work for items that take a long time to wear such as cars, carpets and painting.
If you don’t have a database, (ie accounting software with clients information), then you should consider establishing one so that your customer contact details are stored in a database that is easily retrieved and then develop a strategy and timetable for contact.
Firstly we looked at the strategy of increasing your customer base. The second strategy is to increase the frequency of your customer returning to your business. In the next newsletter we will look at the strategy of ‘increasing the value of each transaction’.
If you would like to explore business growth strategies for your business in more detail, please feel free to contact us. After all, we are here to help.