“Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.”
—C. Neil Strait
The Best Place To Get New Work: Existing Customers
Constantly chasing fresh customers and re-selling and re-establishing yourself is not the most efficient way to do business (unless you’re in the type of business where your client only needs you once. Like lifetime-guaranteed cast-iron silicon-coated doorstops.) If things are slow, or even merely steady, do check in with your existing clientele. Create a system where you follow-up. Do your customers need anything right now? If not, is there perhaps something new you can find to offer them? Are they happy with the work you did? You already have an established relationship, after all — a rapport, a trust level, a mutually beneficial relationship. So every subsequent positive transaction or communication only serves to strengthen that bond, and leaves them more satisfied and more likely to continue being repeat customers. Working with existing clientele is what’s known in business as a “hot lead” versus a “cold lead”. Makes sense that existing clients are going to “warm up” faster to doing business with you again — why not help them make you a hard habit to break?
Your customers will likely appreciate your checking in on them. Customer service and that personal touch, a level of relationship in business, are things that can’t be bought. Not only is it good manners, but good business sense.
Make sure you keep track of all your customers — via database, a little black book, a printout, a calendar, or the old “rolodex” — and regularly check in with them, to make sure everything is going well, and to see if there’s anything else they may want or need. It saves them the trouble of having to look you up, and it makes them feel appreciated and well looked- after. You don’t have to sound like you’re desperately trying to drum up work — just a friendly email will do the trick. : “Hey — just thinking of my favourite customer today, how’s everything working? Anything you need?” You don’t need to fly overhead with a plane banner, or mail out special brochures and surveys. Try to maintain as personal a touch as you can, and avoid overdoing it — you don’t want to turn your hot leads cold. You want to work effectively while keeping the client base you’ve got. Make sure they are happy before you worry about bringing in new business. Not only will you grow your business in a solid, manageable way, but also more efficiently.
Because with a loyal client base, word tends to spread, and new jobs come looking for you instead of the other way around.