How to Keep Customers Coming Back for 60 Years
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How to Keep Customers Coming Back for 60 Years

Important traits from successful people will benefit you.

By Sean Scott

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs that carved out businesses from scratch and fought hard see them grow into solid businesses. When I was just a kid, I didn’t take much notice of how they made their successes happen. In spite of all my efforts, some of the important traits rubbed off and a lot of what they did makes sense to me now. Their hard work was only part of it; relationship building was the key to their accomplishments. My grandfather still has clients that he’s had for close to 60 years. What a legacy of Customer service! You don’t get loyal customers like that without building a relationships and nurturing them.

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  • I first went into business when I was 25 years old, still thinking that just hard work would make it all just happen. Then, something a friend said not long after I had gone pretty far out on the limb broke through, “Customers are the very most important thing. You have to fulfill their needs and always do more than they expect. Without customers, you have no income.” When I finally put all that together I realized it was an indisputable fact. This concept could take me places. How could something so simple be so often overlooked? Just look at all the businesses with pathetic customer service. Missing that simple concept is at the heart of lots of unprofitable companies even today.

    If you read our e-newsletter then you know we frequently return to the basics. Many of us need these occasional reminders to keep us focused on what’s important. We regularly hear from shops out there that are worried about the "competition", like the Kinkos stores that are popping up all over the place. Know that the level of expertise that you put into the planning and conceptualization, plus the quality of the products you produce will support value of the price that you charge. Delivering high quality products and services to clients will establish loyalty as long as you continue to nurture those clients throughout the relationship.

    Some of the biggest buzz in general industry publications over the last few years, is about CRM, or Customer Relationship Management. It's a complex way of showing people “How to take care of the people that pay your bills!” At times we find ourselves so caught up in completing the work so that we can turn it around quickly that we forget that the actual product of our work is only part of our relationship with our valued clients. We must take great care to thank, appreciate and support the customers that support us. For prospects who have not yet become customers, we need to continue to educate them so that they understand that although we may not be the cheapest shop in town, our expertise, quality products and superior customer service warrant the higher prices. Value is more than just price. Back up all the benefits with the high quality work they deserve and expect. Anyone can produce the cheap stuff and it has its place in the two-day throwaway market, but that isn’t the type of work most shops want to produce on a regular continuing basis.

    We often hear from shops saying that business has slowed down recently. They think that competition has snapped up their clients and dark clouds are starting to roll in. Most of us have experienced that in the last few months some slowing has occurred worldwide. That doesn't mean that we should “freak out”. We just need to become more conscientious about following up with clients, reminding them that we still care about their business, and to please come by to see new things we have to offer them. Staying in their face will keep your company fresh in their mind. People like to spend money where they feel consistently appreciated. If they don't hear from you for a while, then they can forget the reasons why they used your company the last time and begin looking for other resources for their next project.

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    In a nutshell, if we've done a good job and deliver quality craftsmanship to our customers, we need to thank them… remind them that we're still here… and ask them to come back to us the next time. That's how we are able to retain quality employees, keep our families fed and keep the lights on at the shop. Our clients are critically important to our business and everyone that works within any shop should reflect that position, from the upper management to the floor sweeper. Commit yourself to treat every single person you come in contact with with the same graciousness and honesty as you would like to be treated yourself. You will reap the benefits for years to come. Someday I hope to be able to say what my grandfather can say, that I have customers who have been with me for sixty years.

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