One Friday afternoon I was contacted by a company that sold and installed garage doors. The owner was distraught because business was so bad. She had a team of sales people sitting around waiting for the phone to ring and she was unable to motivate them to generate new leads.

This business had been operating for almost twenty years and it had thousands of past clients. How could things have got so bad? The business had become complacent about chasing new leads and had not spent a cent on marketing. They left it too long and the phone literally stopped ringing.

But there was another issue that intrigued (and concerned) me, how could they have had so many past customers and not be getting referral work from them? I asked the owner about her sales records and database of past clients. She took me out to a decaying storeroom that was filled with overflowing boxes of completed job cards. There were thousands and thousands of them slowly rotting away. I knew in an instant that this was a gold mine.

Most of the garage doors had been installed in private homes and it was unlikely that past customers would need a new door, but now the business offered a range of other products including kits to mechanize garage doors, pool fences, security lighting and alarms for garages. Most of the past customers would have no idea that these products were available.

So I put together a strategy where, starting with the most recent customers and working their way back through the records, the sales people were going to contact them all and offer them a free lubrication and inspection of the garage doors. The installation team were going to show the sales people how to do this and then the sales people were going to go on the road. While doing the free maintenance inspection they would have the opportunity to sell new products and services to the homeowner.

The concept was solid but unfortunately the business owner had left it too late. The debt was too high and sadly the business had to close before the rescue mission could be implemented. I have no doubt that it would have worked if only they had acted sooner.

Many businesses seem to forget their past clients. Once they've made a purchase they ignore them and this is a terrible missed opportunity for so many reasons. Do you have a gold mine sitting in archive boxes or computer files? Often all it takes is some creativity mixed with a little perspiration to generate big sales.

Reconnect with the customers you think are "lost". Tell them what you've been up to, what's new in your business and how you can help them. You might be surprised at the response.