Seven Ways to Wow Your Clients

One of the main reasons clients leave is because they feel ignored.  The cost of ignoring clients is high; you have to do more marketing and replace those clients when they leave.  The antidote to this is easy:  just stay in touch more with clients, and let them know you care about them and their business.  Here are seven ways to stay in touch with all your clients and especially your long-term customers.

1. Pay a compliment. 

Sometimes when we’re in an “all-business” mode, we forget the simple things.  Take a minute to look around and find something to compliment your client on.  What have they done to support you?  What are they a natural at?  What traits do they have that you admire?  Tell them; they will appreciate it because it won’t be expected.

2. Rejuvenate your service with long-time clients. 

Recall the first week that you signed a new client.  You were both excited about beginning your relationship, and your service was likely top-notch.  Now take a look at the service level of clients you’ve had for a while – for months or maybe even years.  Is it the same?

If not, consider putting the spark back into the relationship!  Long-term clients deserve a higher service level than new clients; yet it’s often the other way around.  Take a look at what you can do to spice up your service level, whether it’s returning calls and emails faster or delivering the work earlier as a surprise.  Your long-term clients will appreciate it and know that you’re making an effort not to take their business for granted.

3. Acknowledge referrals quickly.

Clients that pass you referrals are taking two risks when they refer you: 1 – that you will do a good job, and 2 – that their friend will like you.  Help them feel like it’s worthwhile by responding quickly to the referral as well as acknowledging and thanking your client for the referral.

This is best done by a thank you card or a phone call.

4. Send a newsletter.

Keep clients informed of tips, discounts, new services and products, and events with a newsletter.  There are many ways to create a newsletter, and the most important aspect is to make sure it’s as relevant as possible to your clients.

A newsletter does not have to be elaborate or time-consuming.  At its simplest form, it can consist of a single, short article.  As you further develop it, you can add in components such as a brief company description, a quote, a testimonial, an events calendar, a customer spotlight, a greeting, additional articles, a poll or survey, and special offers.

5. Celebrate birthdays and/or anniversaries. 

Everyone loves to have their birthday acknowledged.  Send a card to your clients in their birthday month.

The best birthday cards are just that, real birthday cards without company logos or sales pitches.  If appropriate, consider a surprise twist on the birthday theme:  send cards to your client’s kids, spouse, or pets.

Another great twist to acknowledge clients is to send an anniversary card on the date they first started doing business with you.  This is a great option if you don’t have clients’ birthdays recorded.  And it’s a great surprise because clients do not see it coming!

6. Offer longevity or loyalty discounts.

It’s common practice to offer new clients discounts.  It’s less common to reward loyalty.  Give current clients better breaks in your prices than new clients.  This incentivizes clients who already like your products to buy more.  The more they buy, the more likely they are to keep doing business with you.

You can also surprise long-time clients with periodic bonuses and gifts.  Don’t do it too often, because it will be expected.  For best results, the bonus should come completely out of the blue.

7. Express gratitude.

Say thank you to current clients every chance you can.  Thank them for their business.  Thank them for their loyalty.  Thank them for paying their bill on time.  Thank them for being easy to work with.  Thank them for being flexible.  Do this by sending cards or emails for no reason other than to thank them.

These positive interactions with your current and long-time clients will strengthen your relationships with them, help you say what’s often not said enough, and improve your client retention.

Five Bottlenecks to Avoid that Stump Your Business Growth

As a business owner, you have likely acquired many skills and are wearing many hats in your business.  Although admirable, your versatility can often lead to slower growth for your company.  This happens when you become the bottleneck.  Here are five places to check to make sure you haven’t become the bottleneck in your own business.

1. Managing everything.

It’s definitely good to keep tabs on everything that’s going on in your company, but once your company grows, you may find yourself inundated with information.  Instead, try managing by exception.

You don’t really need to know everything that’s going on in your company; you really only need to know when things do not go smoothly, or when there are exceptions.  Design a set of management reports that allow you to see these exceptions easily without having to wade through a bunch of information.  This will save you time and help you focus where your expertise and skills are needed most.

2. Doing too much production.

Probably the most common small business mistake is working in your business instead of on your business.  If you’re still generating billable work or working too much in production, it should be work that no one on your staff can do and work that requires a very high skill set.  Otherwise, it should be delegated to staff.  And if you don’t have staff, then they need to be hired.

3. Not doing enough marketing.

As a business owner, you are the key person that will be bringing in business, forging partnerships, and creating new opportunities for revenue.  If you spend your limited time doing other things, marketing often goes undone.  Not marketing enough can dry up the pipeline, cause cash flow problems, and get a company in trouble really fast.

4. Being the only one who knows how to do something.

When employees have to wait on you to show them how to do something, you can easily become the bottleneck in the process.  As you train each employee, do it only once by writing procedures for the task as you train.  That way, you never have to train anyone on that task again.  The newly trained employee can show others, and you can be out of the loop, freed up for more important things.

5. Having to review and approve everything your employees do.

A great employee is one who is empowered to make as many decisions as possible without further layers of supervisions getting involved.  Often, a decision can be “cookbooked” so that the decisions can be pushed down the lower layers of management.  Take a look to see if any of the decisions that you are making can be documented and pushed down so that you don’t have to get involved.  That way, your employees will have the right balance of authority in order to do their jobs.

How did you measure up on these five high-bottleneck areas?  When you can clear up the bottlenecks in your business, your firm will be able to grow even faster.

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