As a business owner, retaining your customer base through healthy relationships should be at the forefront of your operations; it sets you up for repeat business and provides you with strong referrals for new business.
But building these relationships takes time, patience, strategy, and motivation. One example of a leader with a splendid track record of establishing and maintaining client relationships is Brandon Ezra, CEO and founder of Grand Welcome, a vacation rental management franchise.
Ezra's business is built on relationships -- from employees and vendors to landlords and clients. He recently shed valuable insight on how he establishes and maintains those relationships so they evolve into long-standing, impressive partnerships.
1. Acknowledge that time is valuable.
Whether you're working with a new client or an existing one, remember to respect their time -- it's just as valuable as yours. Be efficient yet personal in your conversation, since no two clients or customers are the same. Take this time to set a standard for the relationship and get it off to a good start with active listening -- understanding their needs, likes, and dislikes.
2. Make a human connection.
Additionally, going the extra mile to learn a little bit about a client's personal life shows interest and adds a nice human connection. "You don't want clients feeling like they are just a means of boosting your bottom line," shares Ezra. "Make it known to them that they are valued and get to know them on a personal level." For existing clients, Ezra emphasizes routinely touching base on expectations to ensure your services are still what they need. These "touch base" calls, he says, "can be incredibly insightful and be an aid for reoccurring business."
3. Radiate confidence and be genuine.
"A key aspect to delivering and exceeding expectations with new and existing clients is your attitude," notes Ezra. Business owners who are positive and calm under pressure instill confidence in not only their employees but also their clients. A confident and upbeat attitude at the top will trickle down to employees and clients.
4. Smile more.
It's often said, a person's true smile can be heard through a phone conversation. Clients are able to know if you are "smiling with your eyes" and happy with your business and having them as a customer -- so be your genuine self. You are building and maintaining healthy relationships with real people, not robots.
5. Over-communicate + over-deliver.
"As simple as it sounds, do what you say you're going to do, and deliver on what you promise a client," says Ezra. And don't just meet expectations; exceed them. Bring new ideas to the table and let your results do the talking. This will take your business to the next level and is key identifier of a successful business.
6. Be transparent.
Transparency is critical, so set realistic expectations with your client from the beginning. By being honest with yourself and with the client about your limitations, timely communication will be more productive.
7. Create expected accountability.
Set a standard of exceptional accountability, which translates to standing by decisions, actions, and services. By building a culture of accountability from the top down, you are empowering your employees to build and maintain their own healthy client relationships. "Start by having solid, consistent leadership that demonstrates and rewards accountable behaviors," says Ezra. "Your customers will have an overall better experience when the entire organization is on the same page."