Building Repeat Business – Your Business needs it to Survive!

If you want your (start-up) business to survive then you need repeat business. Without returning customers your business most likely will fail in the long run. Large companies know this. Why do you think that these companies give out loyalty cards for instance? They try to lure back customers with for instance frequent flyer memberships of Borders Rewards. Your business needs a repeat customer base to survive, so today we look at 10 tips that can help you building a repeat customer base.

1. Business plan
Try to build your business plan around a product or service that has a repeat buy. For some ideas you could look at the large companies, like Apple for instance.

Why do you think that Apple created the iPod? It’s simple; they wanted to sell mp3 songs (iTunes) over the internet. That is where the money is made, in iTunes and not in selling mp3 players.

You need to go into a business that has inherent repeat sales opportunities or you should create a business model that will get the customers back on a recurring basis. For instance razor manufacturers, nail salons, window washers, etc they all have a repeat customer business model.

2. Competition
You should never compete on price alone. If a competitor has a better deal than you, the customer has no reason to come back to your business. The customer has to think that he or she is always better of with your business. For instance because your service is better, longer guarantee, better call handling, low shipping cost, etc. They must think that you total package is a better deal than an individual lower price of a product by a competitor.

3. Customer Information
You should capture customer information (make sure that is stored secure.) Without knowledge about your customer base it’s hard to contact them about new offer for instance. So try to gather names and contact information any way you can. For example an online business can use an opt-in form to capture e-mail addresses. A feedback form is another way to get information about your customers. Try to use incentives for people that fill out

4. Thank-you notes
Make sure you only send personalized thank-you notes. (Of course you can use the collected name of the customer (see 3) to automate the process.) Sometimes it’s also wise to send a handwritten thank-you note. Both cases will show the customer that you appreciate their business.

5. Calling your customers
Sometimes just asking by phone for repeat business does the trick. Of course you can also send them an e-mail if you collected their e-mail addresses, but calling them makes it more personal. (What method to use all depends on in what sort of business you are.)

6. Reminders
Sending reminders can also get you repeat business. For instance dentists send out a reminder cards to let you know that it’s time for you to make an appointment. Reminders card works best in any business that offers seasonal service.

7. Customer rewards program
You should create a customer reward program. For instance you could offer them a special price in the customers birthday month. Or as simple as buy three and get one free will also do the trick. Also rewarding customers if they buy regularly from your business is also a good business practice.

8. Mailings
Whether it’s you use e-mail or direct-mail it’s always wise to send out new offers or information to your customer base. (If you use e-mail to send them information make sure you don’t spam and make sure that they are able to get of the e-mail list.)

9. Leave-behinds
Branding is very important for your business that’s why you should invest in leave-behinds, such as pens, calendars, mouse pads, etc. The goal is to remind customers that you exist. For instance you can send a mouse pad for free with every order someone makes. (Don’t tell them in advance, let is be a surprise. People love surprise and free stuff.)

10. Customer service
A good customer service is very important if you want repeat business from someone, so make it a priority. If someone has a problem with one of your products, you should help them as swiftly as you can (even if you have to send a replacement or give them their money back.) This way they know that you take them seriously and that you do everything to make buying from you a good experience for the customers. Only then people will return for more business.

As you can see there are many ways to build repeat business and this are only just a few of them. Include a repeat business chapter in your business plan where you outline how you will create a repeat customers base. This way your business will be around for the long haul and make lots of money online.

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