There is an oft-quoted statistic in business that it costs six times more to create a new customer than it does to keep a current one. While it may be difficult to actually quantify and prove that across the many and varied small businesses that are out there, there is no doubt that getting new customers definitely takes time, effort, and money.
So yes, it would behoove any small business owner to take extra good care of their current customers. Long-time customers allow us to pay the bills, hire employees, and grow our businesses. They are how entrepreneurs keep the dream alive.
That then begs the question: How do you create repeat, long-term customers? For, while a one-time customer is nice, it is that repeat customer who really makes the difference. Customers can choose any business to service their needs; they will only choose yours time and again if you offer them something above the ordinary.
Here then are five ways to keep customers coming back for more:
1. Be great at what you do. People hire you to do a service for them, or they go into your shop to buy something from you, because they have wants and need. If your service is average, they may or may not be back. They may become a regular, or not. Who knows?
But what if you were great at what you do? They almost assuredly would be back. If you shine shoes, shine them the best you can. If you cook, use great ingredients and cook with love.
2. Deliver great customer service. Along the same lines, customers love you when they know that you love them back. Nordstrom is famous for their superior customer service, and that is why their customers are so very loyal. Costco, on the other end of the retail spectrum, has similarly great customer service, and with similar customer loyalty.
Talk about creating a great brand.
3. Treat your staff well. One of the most interesting small business surveys I ever saw examined the differences between the best franchises and the rest. The biggest difference was how the owner treated his or her employees. It turns out that the better boss you are, the happier your staff will be, and they happier they are, the better your customers are treated, and the better your customers are treated, the more they will like your business.
4. Add extra value. Recently, I decided not to bill some of my oldest customers for the weekly content that my business creates for them. I told them that I really appreciated their patronage over the years and this was my way to say thanks.
Yes, they were happy.
5. Say thank you to your customers. When you are done doing business with a mediocre shop, you say “thank you.” But when you leave a great business, they say thank you. And that is not the only time they say it. They say it even when it is unexpected, for no reason. They sincerely appreciate the people who patronize their business and let them know that.
So let me finish by saying one last thing: thank you for coming to our site and reading my content.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.