There is only so much networking and “schmoozing” a person can do. Your competitors are likely as qualified as you, why should someone come to you? The answer is simple, successful client-based business is reliant on building relationships. But how do you do that? There are three distinct phases of client relationship building:
- Referrals (Starting a client relationship)
- Retaining clients (repeat business either in the same, larger or smaller capacity)
- Loyal clients (Clients who will not only use your services and send referrals, but also be your PR at the dinner table with their friends and family – AKA, the gold in your rolodex).
Many client relationships start with a referral. To get to know your clients better, ask not only who made the referral, but specifically what was said that made the new client come to you. That information can tell you who your loyal clients are as well as the expectation the new client has of you.
If a client is happy with you, it does not guarantee a referral – it doesn’t even guarantee repeat business. Consider a loyalty program that encourages them to continue doing business with you again. Consider a discount on another service or even a gift of another great experience (such as a WishWish gift). After a few simple client retention techniques and that client has had several good experiences with you, they are more likely to move toward “client loyalty”.
Once you have a loyal client, it does not mean they will stay loyal. If the top 20% of your clients bring you the majority of your business either on their own or through referrals, make sure you nurture these relationships more than any other. Consider sending a surprise gift at a random time of the year. “I know you love this play – here are a couple of tickets to Play On where they are doing that production now.” Surprise gifts that have a lot of meaning will certainly put you at the forefront of their mind anytime a referral opportunity comes up.