Have you ever really sat down and created a list of all the clients and customers you have not seen or heard from in a while?
If you have, you will know first hand what a list that can be! If you have not, perhaps make time this week to brew yourself a pot of tea, take a trip down memory lane and begin doing so.
Customers are lost for lots of reasons… A change of circumstance, conflicting schedules, lost interest or, horror of horrors, they left because they were unhappy about something in your business.
If you can win back just a small percentage of those ‘lost clients’ it can show a marked difference in your bottom line. Remember an existing, or old, client is always cheaper to acquire than a new one!
Here is the 7 steps to implementing this:
- Get all the names down where you can see them.
- Identify those you will not be able to win back.
- Decide how to best approach them.
- Write your email or plan your script.
- Create a special offer for them.
- Ask for feedback or information as to why they stopped.
- Take action!
Okay, now lets look at each of these steps in a little more detail…
1. Get all the names down where you can see them.
Now, this sounds easy enough, but if you have been in business a few years it can be quite a task! Probably the quickest way to approach this is to sift through your invoice and receipts journals, followed by your email and phone contacts. Lastly, once you begin taking that stroll back in time, your memory will do the rest, turning up situations and incidents that had long been relegated to the back of your mind.
2. Identify those you will not be able to win back.
You know, it is unfortunate, but in life not everyone will be a great fit for you and your business. I believe in ‘vetting’ potential clients before they come into your circle, to make sure they are a suitable match… But there will always be the odd few that will fall through the cracks and become customers, when clearly they would have been much happier elsewhere. When they leave, you will know who they are and those people are the ones I am talking about now! Don’t even go there… Somethings are better left alone!
But these are not the only people you may not be able to do business with again. Inevitably there will be other people who will fall into this category; perhaps they have moved and are no longer in the same locality. Perhaps their financial situation has changed. Perhaps they have passed away. Whatever the reason, if you cannot regain their custom, drop them from your list.
3. Decide how to best approach them.
If you had a good relationship with the person, perhaps a phone call is the best way to open the lines of communication again. Alternatively a well written email may suffice. You know your customers best, so stick to your own style of how you do your business. I personally enjoy email, followed up if necessary by a phone call. The email is unobtrusive and gives a person time to consider doing business with you again and avoids putting them on the spot.
4. Write your email or plan your script.
When you craft your email, make sure it is well written and sounds and feels like you. They know you, so allow your personality to come out in the email. Also, take time to consider the Subject Line of your email… This may be the decider as to whether your email gets read at all or not. The same goes for the phone call, have a script you can use to guide the conversation along. If your exchange veers a little off course, listen to the person, enjoy the chat, but then gently guide it back to where you want to bring them. You have to have a plan before you get on the phone!
5. Create a special offer for them.
In order to regain their business, you may be inclined to ‘sweeten the deal’ by creating a special offer… Perhaps the first four lessons at last years prices, or a 20% discount on the first months boarding. You know your business best, so assess the situation and figure out what would appeal to that person. Also, know in advance how much they are worth to you as a customer if they were to come back. This often helps put ‘deals’ into perspective.
6. Ask for feedback or information as to why they stopped.
This can often be difficult to ask, face to face, so perhaps you can create an on-line survey that you can ask your old clients to fill out. It can be a great insight into parts of your business that you were unaware had issues or were broken. Or just an alternative way to gauge the general feeling of clients without any awkwardness. Remember to leave space at the end for the old customers to write their own feelings and opinions on the situation. Perhaps this can prevent you from losing current clients in the future, so be open-minded.
7. Take action!
Getting an old client back is far cheaper and easier than finding a new one. This is something that can make us feel nervous or anxious as we just don’t know what might come up, but if you are brave enough to take action, you may just have two or three new ‘old’ clients by the end of the week.
Keep in mind that when people’s situations change, so do their habits. Often they have just forgotten about you and about how much they enjoyed your yard or barn. And even if they don’t come back, maybe you can learn something that will help you make your current clients even happier!
You will never know unless you try… so best of luck :-)
Have you ever tried to regain the custom of past clients? How did you go about this, and what results did you experience? We would love to hear your story in the comments section below.
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