Posted Monday, January 31, 2005
Business owners of long standing know the cardinal rule “take care of your existing customers first”. Today especially we see business owners looking constantly for the new customer. Hey, did you forget the customers you have. All of us want our businesses to grow. However, after a number of years, depending on your business, you might reach a point where your business starts to taper off. You find you are not getting any new clients. Before you throw in the towel, realize that you still have your current customers. Why not try to increase volume and steady revenue with your current customer base.
One of the things we have discussed in a number of our articles is to get feedback from your customers. Yes, you might hear about problems. However, this is a good thing, it allows you to fix them or stop selling that product. Ever wonder why some of your customers never buy again, that product with the problem might be the reason. Don’t ask, don’t tell DOESN’T work in the business world.
Send follow up mailings or call your clients and make sure they are happy with their purchase. This also gives you an opportunity to ask if you can be of service to them again. If they are not happy, find out why and fix it. Once you take care of it, then see if there is anything else you can do for them. You’d be surprised. Since so many businesses don’t do this, your fixing the problem, gets you a loyal customer, who recommends you to their friends.
Another method we have discussed before is the survey. You can find out what your customers need by taking a survey. This can be done informally by asking them when you see them or you could call them. Another way would be to send the survey when you send out your brochure, flyer or if you send discount coupons to your customer. You want to find out how they are using your product, any new ways they are using it you might not have thought of. You also want to find out if there are any related products or services they are also buying. If you do call don’t try to get a sale, if one comes, so be it, but the purpose of the call is not to make a sale, but to gather information.
Many times, like us, you may come up with another product or service you could offer. For example, from the surveys and questions we asked of our coaching students, we came up with the idea to add video/audio to our coaching program and then after further research to all of our products. This allowed us to offer the videos to current customers at a discount, of course, and it also got us new customers due to the increased popularity of the videos. Customers liked them because it was like having Chuck and I there at home with them.
However, for those of you selling concrete products you might want to offer your customers an opportunity to get acquainted with it. For example, let’s say a new fragrance or cream. Get a beauty consultant to give a lecture introducing the product and its benefits. Or you can do it yourself. Your business is something you should be expert in, so you could certainly introduce the product yourself.
If in your business you meet with your customers on a regular basis, you could bring in a sample of the product for them to try. This way you could get feedback on the product, and if there are problems with it you can fix it or discontinue it.
What about how you present your product, could the packaging be changed, would packaging it with another item make it a better seller. Also, around certain holidays are you letting your customers know that your product would make a great gift. For those of you in service businesses make up some gift certificates that your customers could buy for a friend or family member. Example, One hour consultation with life coach, Karen Smith. Could your customers offer their customers your product as a bonus for something they are selling.
Another option is to take several of your products and put them into a package. For example, we offer several packages that have manuals, books and tapes combined. You could offer your exercise machine with your book on low calories recipes, and your other book on exercising efficiently.
How about offering a discount or price break for a certain number of your products. For example, for orders of 10 or more books we will offer a 35% discount.
On the flip side for those of you who sell in quantity why not offer the option to buy just one. Of course, price would be higher for just 1 to 2 as opposed to the larger quantity.
Remember, you need to do whatever you have to, to keep your existing customers happy.
This last idea is not for all of us, but for those who can, it can really increase your sales. Customization of your items. For example, if you were selling dolls you could put different hats on them, clothes, etc. There is a company that sells teddy bears for all types of occasions and they also have a number of different bears for those occasions. Remember, the more you customize your product the higher the price you can sell it for. I know a guy who makes furniture and offers his customers a choice of decoration on pieces he designs.
Again, I can’t emphasize enough to get feedback on your ideas from your customers. That feedback, plus your sales will give you a good idea on which ideas are helping your business and which aren’t.
Copyright DeFiore Enterprises 2004
About the Author
Interested in having your own successful, home based creative real estate investing business? Chuck and Sue have been helping folks start successful home based businesses for over 19 years, and we can help you too! To see how, visit (http://www.homebusinesssolutions.com) for the latest FREE tips and tricks, educational products and coaching in creative real estate investing and home based businesses. No time to visit the site? Subscribe to our "how to" Home Business Solutions Digest, it's like having your own personal coach: mailto:subscribeHBS@homebusinesssolutions.com