Service after the sale, if thoughtfully planned, can be a boon to your business. Glenn Meltzer, president of Health-Tech Systems, in Hauppauge, N.Y., found ways to make customers more knowledgeable and generate excitement about his new products. He also increased referral business in the process.

Meltzer provides turnkey computer systems for dental offices. After he had sold a number of systems in Philadelphia, phone queries began to pour in. In response, Meltzer convened a group of customers to address common problems, and the participants decided to form a user group. The payoff was so great that Meltzer has since formed similar groups, in eastern Massachusetts, Long Island, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia.

At each session, group members share ways to better utilize their systems. They also begin to call each other--rather than Health-Tech--when problems arise. Meetings soon take on the spirit of a self-help group.

The group costs Meltzer very little: some minor travel expenses, postage for a few letters, and a bit of time. And Meltzer has found that it generates another unforeseen benefit. "As a result of the user groups, we're selling many more upgrades," he says. Furthermore, Meltzer says, the company is getting new sales because of the groups. When group members socialize with their peers from other offices that are not yet computerized, they often talk positively about Health-Tech.