Big Ideas for Small Businesses…Keep them coming back

By Teri A. Coutu, Blue Rock Business Advisors

One of the most important traits of any successful business is the ability to keep customers/clients coming back. Studies have proven over and over that it is far easier to keep a current customer than to gain a new one. And yet, many small business owners spend more time and money trying to attract new customers than they do fostering the relationship with current ones. As you move into the new year, there are some easy steps you can take to show your clients you value them and keep them coming back.

Keep in touch.

I know many of you hate social media, and don’t believe there’s any benefit in sending out newsletters, but these two platforms allow you to quickly (and cost-effectively) stay out in front of your current customers, while possibly attracting new ones. Depending on the size of your business, you may only need to post on social media 2-3 times a week to draw and sustain attention on your services. Share your upcoming activities, weekly specials, and useful tips. Even if no one likes or comments on your posts, you can bet they are seeing them, and you’re showing people your business is open, friendly, and helpful.

Email newsletters don’t have to be long and complicated. Focus on one or two main messages a month so customers know you’re thinking of them, and so they keep thinking of you – especially during the “off season.” We are bombarded with advertisements everywhere we turn, so make your newsletter informative rather than “salesy,” and keep the tone friendly and familiar. After all, these are likely to be people who “know” you on some level, (even if you don’t remember them) so help them feel connected to you.

 Stay positive.

I can’t stress enough how important it is that you, and your employees, keep a positive attitude about EVERYTHING when working with customers/clients. This is true everywhere, but especially for people working in tourist-related business areas. You want customers to have a good experience, not just in your store, restaurant, or vacation rental, but in the community at large. So, eliminate all gossip, negative comments about other businesses, or any disgruntled feelings about local politics. Teach your team to talk up area “highlights” with visitors to enhance their local experience. And, while you never want to say anything bad about another business, it IS good to have a list of places YOU recommend so you can promote other local establishments that help create a positive experience for visitors.

The bottom line.

One of the biggest benefits of cultivating relationships with current customers is that they become your best marketing tool. When people feel connected and respected, they are very likely to refer others to your business. So, make sure your clients feel like they’re a valued part of your team by keeping them informed and making them feel welcome. It really doesn’t take too much effort to have a positive impact on your bottom-line.

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