Phones not ringing? Orders down? Customers not walking in the door? It's time to take action. But before you spend a fortune trying to drum up new business, why not get in touch with those people who once loved you -- your former customers?
As hard as companies work to solicit and serve customers, I'm always surprised by how little most businesses do to stay in touch with those they once served so well. Many seem to have the attitude that once a job is done, it's done; once a product is sold, it's sold, and the relationship with the customer is over. I must admit I was guilty of this myself, especially in my consulting business. After all, how often did someone need a business plan?
That's short-term thinking. Former customers are the best source for future sales, even in businesses where customers make purchases only every few years. After all, satisfied customers talk to others, so they're an important referral source. It costs two to 40 times as much to acquire a customer as it does to keep one. So once you've got one, don't lose them.
Of course, it's best if you develop an ongoing customer communication program. But don't wait for that if you need dollars in the cash register now.
To get started on a contact program:
During the recent boom years, many of us were so busy serving current accounts that we didn't have the time -- or the need -- to sustain connections with former customers or potential referral sources. Regardless of how well your business is doing, it's time to get back to those fundamentals. Remember, "word of mouth" advertising doesn't just happen; it has to be nurtured. So stay in touch. Now, pick up that phone!
Rhonda Abrams writes the nation's most widely-read small business column and is the author of The Successful Business Organizer, Wear Clean Underwear, and The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies. To receive Rhonda's free business tips newsletter, register at www.RhondaOnline.com.
Copyright © 2002 Rhonda Abrams.