If you’re like most small-business owners, you spend a large portion of your time trying to find new customers while providing great service to the ones you have. At the same time, you’re hustling to handle 101 day-to-day tasks required to run your business, and perhaps manage a team of employees or independent contractors as well.
Sure, your employees will stay with you while the job market is poor and they don’t have other options. But if they don’t feel like you’ve treated them well or appreciated their hard work, they’ll move to greener pastures when opportunities come along.
Customers present an even greater challenge. When sales aren’t growing as fast as you’d like, the tendency is to focus on developing new business. But while generating new business is always important, focusing too much on new customers and not enough on existing ones can hurt you.
Here are tips for keeping customers:
• Get some face time. If you deal mostly by email, phone or online, make an effort to meet in person. Meeting in person says you are interested and gives you an opportunity to literally see things that you can help address or that can strengthen the relationship.
• Tune your offering. As proud as you may be about your product or service, remember it’s being made or done for the customer. Make certain you know what they want, and when they want it.
• Be open to change. Customers may want to change terms, conditions, purchase orders, payment processes or other things and will appreciate if you show a willingness to work with them on adapting to new conditions.
Here are some ways to boost morale and employee loyalty:
• Give low-cost bonuses and perks. If you can’t give significant raises or bonuses, show appreciation with less-pricey rewards. Options include gift certificates to local restaurants, movie tickets or maybe a paid Friday afternoon off.