You’ve found the perfect client. You enjoy the work, you communicate well and they’re reliable payers. Your existing customers could well be the foundation of a thriving business so it feels crucial that they keep coming back to you. When you’re good at what you do, returning customers are generally more profitable than new ones and it’s definitely easier to get business from them than to go out scouting for new business. Here are some tips and incentives on how to retain clients as a contractor.
If they’re a valued customer, make sure they feel like one.
It might seem obvious but it’s surprising how many businesses take their existing clients for granted and loyalty to a supplier only goes so far when everyone is fighting for a contract. It’s important not to pander to your new or prospective clients so much that you forget your best clients. Returning customers have given you more work than anyone and may have even referred you to others so put them first. Offer them exclusive offers or services to show that you value their business. Make sure you also take note of important dates. The personal touch goes a long way to securing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Just remembering and making reference to conversations you had with them last month can make a big difference, as can a personal message on the company’s anniversary or a key contact’s birthday.
Create special promotions for existing clients
If you want a client to keep returning to you it makes sense to reward them when they do. Traditionally most businesses have a couple of sales a year so why shouldn’t you? It’ll be seen as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to those existing customers. Perhaps basing a ‘sale’ or reduced price period around an event would work well, for example, a summer sale or a birthday promo, especially if you know there’s a lull in work at specific times of the year.
Make the effort to stay in touch
A client may not always have work for you but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the relationship during quiet periods. Make the effort to touch base with them every now and then to see how they are getting on. Clearly they won’t want to be bombarded with marketing , but a personal email or phone call every so often will make them less likely to start shopping around. Keeping in touch with any important news associated with the industry can be a great way to create discussion with a company and to show you genuinely understand them and what has an impact on their business.
Create something just for them
You could create your own personal newsletter to send out to an email list of existing clients (with their permission), an update on any ‘special offers’ (see above) or hints and tips about your industry and any other news that may be relevant to them. Some freelancers provide an information package when they win a new client so that they have relevant contact details, pricing and process information to hand when they need it.
Of course, keeping the business ‘hopper’ full also relies on new business so our next blog will feature some tips for winning business and some of the top websites for finding those new contracts that could lead to valued, long term clients.
If you have any other ideas to share, please add them in the comments below.