Building on a clientele is the hardest test a start-up business has to overcome. When starting a business, you are either offering a unique product to a yet realized need or a fairly improved or slightly different version of an existing product with a set of loyal customers. Either way, you will be starting with zero customers. I also started my Brisbane bookkeeping business with no clients. Now, I’ve added partners in to keep up with our ever growing clientele.
So, how did I managed to grow the business?
Here are some techniques that proved to be effective in growing my business;
- Announce your presence – Let people know that you are in business. Start advertising even before you open up your store. Placing paid advertisements are effective in drumming up interest, but they can be costly too. If you are strapped for cash, try distributing flyers, installing signs and notices near the store, phoning your friends and family, and people who could be your prospect clients. . If your business is online, exposure will depend on the demographics of your clients. Try to assess if your customers are mainly Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn users. Make your presence on the same social media platforms your clients are in.
- Put premium on location – Your location in relation to your customers is important. As much as possible, be in an area that will provide your business maximum exposure to your clients. If you are selling pet accessories, an area near dog parks or next to popular pet spas could work for you. And this is why we see a lot of flower shops near hospitals and fancy restaurants. People could be loyal to the coffee shop a block away, but if they someone closer, they’ll give it a fair try. My business of bookkeeping in Brisbane is based online, so I make sure my clients can easily find me in the internet.
- Price it Right! – Pricing your products is giving value to it. Think from the perspective of your customers, not yours. This is how brand names sell. The intrinsic value that people perceive in something is equivalent to the price they are willing to pay for it. The easiest way to attract customers is by lowering your price. But if you are marketing for exclusivity, hike up the price and advertise on the features of the product – to the right audience.
- Have a great after sales service and support – Never let past clients go unhappy. Keeping a customer is harder than acquiring a new one. But happy customers multiply and those who are unsatisfied deduct your client list. Have somebody to look into any complaints, inquiries, and unsolicited advice and opinions coming from your clients. Refunding money or re-doing the service is a one-time loss that is surely to bring in more business. If your customers are happy, they will keep coming back and bring their friends with them too.
- Corporate identity – Create something that is solely attributable to you. McDonald’s arches can never be mistaken for something else, Chanel Number 5 kept its bottle, and the Nike’s swoosh can represent the product anywhere. Create a logo, come up with a slogan, and pick a color or colors that can easily be identified as you. More importantly, offer something extra, like a thirteenth cupcake for every dozen bought or a unique experience, like a personal call after sales to inquire about the product’s performance.
- Value your Customers – Your products are no good wilting or acquiring dust on shelves. Value your customers as they are the ones that will keep the business going. Take extra steps to let them know how you appreciate their business. If you have a greeter for incoming customers, make sure you thank them on their way out. A Thank You card or email can never hurt. Listen to their complaints and acknowledge their opinions. Holiday and birthday cards or small gifts can go a long way.
- Be nice and friendly – Train your team to be nice and friendly. A friendly atmosphere can put your clients at ease and develop relationship with you. Frontliners should try knowing and calling clients by their first name, know about the last order, and a little small talk. Snooty shopkeepers are a major turn off.
Your ultimate goal is to grow your clientele, and that is a lot easier if you work on keeping the customers that you already have. These techniques are no secrets. They are easy enough and I see a lot of my Brisbane bookkeeping clients doing it. You can always go ahead and start a business without doing the extra effort, but if these simple steps can help ensure success, why take the risk?