Recently, I spent an afternoon with some friends at a go-cart track. We had the time of our life each pretending to be world class race car drivers. Although we were older than most of the people there we felt young and alive. We committed to doing this again and soon!
I found over the next few days I shared stories of my experience with countless people. I told story after story of what a great time I had had and how nice the staff was and of my plans to return. With each passing day my plans to return got swept up with the day to day activities of running my business.
A couple weeks after my go-cart experience I got a call from a friend who wanted to know the name of the track. Honestly, I just didn’t remember. I didn’t even know what to look under in the phone book or on the Internet in order to find the company name. “Sorry,” I said. “I just don’t remember.”
How often does this type of situation occur? Sadly, more often than not. And how many sales and potential sales are lost as a result of poor follow up after the initial sale? Sales that could be easily won if people could only remember your company name, the phone number, and the web address.
If you are like most people you have set goals and outcomes for the coming year that include increasing the client base and revenues while increasing profit margins. The sad truth is these are probably the same goals that are set every year and the strategies for achieving the outcomes are probably the same also.
Why not use a smarter strategy? Cultivate relationships with your current client base and keep your name fresh in their mind.
Fact is if someone has already bought something from you and they were pleased with their purchase there is a good chance they will buy again. That is if they remember you and your company when it is time to make the purchase. This applies to hair salons, dentists, specialty gift shops, pet stores and dog groomers, clothing stores, nail salons, or just about any type of business.
Additionally, if they were happy with their experience often they are more than willing to refer people to you, if they could remember you company name. Seems a bit ridiculous they wouldn’t remember your company name. After all, they had such a great experience and said they would be back. Not remembering a company name is more common than you might think.
A good friend loves shopping at an upscale clothing consignment store in the Salt Lake Valley. Her sprees there are sporadic at best. Although she enjoys her experience and will spend in excess of $100 each time she does shop at this unique store, she often forgets about the shop just because she gets so busy with other things in her life.
She said if the owner would simply send out an occasional reminder to come on it she would likely stop in more often. Even a quick email message could work well, she said. An email that could turn an occasional buyer into a frequent buyer. Not only a frequent buyer, but one who more often tells others about the store because the name of the shop is fresh in her mind.
Unfortunately, with many businesses, beyond the initial sale, not much is done to keep their name fresh in the customer’s mind. Customers who have already proven they are willing to spend money with the company and customers who get busy and easily forget the name of the company.
What often surprises people is how simple this can be. The challenge for many people seems to be staying with a system.
It’s like any habit, it has to be cultivated. When someone initially contacts your company make sure to input their name and contact information into your database. Send some type of a follow up regardless of whether or not they make a purchase. This can be done through phone calls, email or standard mailings.
Here are a few recommendations that can be an effective part of any business system. These suggestions will help build a consistent flow of business throughout the year.
If, and when, you experience a slow period in your day, utilize the time to call clients/customers in your database. Recently I stopped into a pet store located in the Salt Lake valley. The groomer was frustrated because several people had made appointments for that day and failed to show up. Her clients may not realize if they don’t show she doesn’t make money.
The groomer told me she got more discouraged as the day progressed. I asked if there was a system in place to assure a higher rate of clients keeping their appointment. As I suspected, there wasn’t. My suggestions were as follows:
- Require a 25 – 50% deposit when an appointment is set. No shows forfeit the deposit. It will only take once before people realize they need to be certain when setting the appointment. A simple explanation to someone who doesn’t want to put a deposit down should take care of the situation. Consider this – if someone refuses to give a deposit are they going to be a good pay when they get the full amount to pay? You may want to consider carefully before you do business with them.
- A day or two before the appointment call the customer giving a friendly reminder. This one strategy will realize a dramatic increase in people keeping their appointment.
- After the appointment, send a thank you card to the pet in c/o the owner. This is not a common practice, so the groomer will be seen as someone who cares about the customer’s pet rather than someone who simply provides a grooming service. By sending the card to the pet you add humor that makes the groomer stand out and the owner may show the card to his or her friends because it is so unique.
- When time allows, pull out past and current client lists. Make as many calls as possible. Use dialogue such as, “Hi Mary, I notice that Max is due for a grooming. We tend to get very busy this time of year and I want to make sure you are able to get an appointment. Can we go ahead and book Max for his grooming right now? Great, let me go ahead and get your credit card number so we can take care of your deposit on that. Thanks and see you on _.”
These communication techniques can work for you, regardless of your business. Think of how you can apply these simple tools to your business.
In these changing times, it is up to you to be as flexible and creative as possible. Take advantage of every opportunity to keep in touch with your customers and clients. You will be amazed at the bottom-line results. Results that are a result of people remembering you and your company name.
About the author
Timing Is Everything!
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