Last month, I was participating in a client meeting and like most meetings that are lengthy, food is generally brought in and we eat/meet on the fly. This time we ordered a bunch of pizza and drinks to feed a group of 20 or so. I am sure many of you know the routine.
I was presenting that day on Local Store Marketing and I asked the person who ordered the food how much the order was. She mentioned that the cost was probably close to $160.00 and that they conduct meetings like this about every two to four weeks. As a marketer, I asked her if they ever follow-up with her; thank her; or inquire how they can better serve her needs. She said no.
Think about that for a moment. A pizza restaurant that probably has an average ticket sale of $10-$15 per order, gets a $160 order about every 3 weeks. That could equate to about $2700 a year—from ONE customer. Yet, this customer has never been cultivated, catered to or even thanked for their business. A simple phone follow-up phone call to this type of customer could cement their loyalty for years.
It is time to step up to the plate and tell your best customers how much you love them!
It’s The 80/20 Rule: It is a common rule of thumb in business that “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients”. While this is an accepted truism in business, it is amazing of how many companies don’t take advantage of this knowledge. If all they did was focus solely on the twenty percent, imagine the potential uplift they may achieve in sales and margin. This group of customers are the ones driving the sales bus, it is critical that they are appreciated in that fashion. These clearly are your best customers. Respect that.
Over Communicate: It all starts with communication and beginning an ongoing dialogue with your best customers. A simple thank you card or written communication goes the step further when appreciating your best customers. After their order, a follow-up call to ensure that everything was to their liking helps cement the relationship in your customers eyes. Anyone can provide a service or product to a customer—the real trick is to make that customer know that their patronage is cherished.
Be Proactive: In the case of my client that orders pizza on a somewhat regular basis, the restaurant should be far more proactive. My client is busy—ordering food for a meeting is not at the top of their strategic list—so the pizza restaurant should reach out to my client proactively asking how they can help in placing their food order. Would it be easier for us to call you? Would you like it delivered? What improvements can we make to both service or product? How would you like to work with us? All of these questions show the customer that there is genuine interest in their business and that the restaurant is doing whatever it can to improve their customer experience. Be proactive, not reactionary.
Ask For Referrals: Establishing this rapport with your best customers enables you to build up the necessary trust required to ask for customer referrals. Your best customers know other potentially great customers for your business and only when this trust is established, can you capitalize on this opportunity. Imagine how your business will flourish with new customers that have been “pre-screened” on your behalf by your most respected base. Creating this type of relational interaction allows for tremendous sales growth amongst your core constituencies.
Thank Your Customers: Lastly, a simple thank you can carry more weight than almost anything a company can do. I am not talking about simply saying “thank you” in passing. What I am referring to is making your best customers know they are truly appreciated. A hand-written note; a phone call; a proactive solution; etc. Taking the time to share that you care is a simple, yet extremely effective, way to solidify your base for years to come.
Sometimes companies fail to see a perfect opportunity even when it presents itself. Think about yourself in this situation—how many times have you scratched your head after you made a purchase and felt as though the customer service was inadequate? How did that make you feel? If you capture the heart and mind of your best customers, the continual sales will flow.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 25 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.