Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail – part four

Clients

Every Small Business owner, operator or employee should be aware that it costs much more to acquire a new client than retain existing ones.  But old or new, client management is essential to your Small Business economic health.

A key reason Small Businesses fail is that they fail to appreciate the distinction between clients and customers, or they take their clients for granted, chasing after the sale but never following up after the payment clears. Yet there are a few simple, low-cost activities that can help you turn customers into clients, and find new business with your existing clientele, such as:

Business is about relationships – court your clients like a romance.  Remember: there is much more to client management than the sale. Otherwise, it’s just a customer relationship. A well-established brick and mortar shop can survive on “one and done” customer relationships; a service business, a startup or an online venture must attempt to capture clients – those people (or companies) that will do business with you on an ongoing basis.

Clients will support your business, well beyond spending their money with you once, and moving on to your competition (usually, without notice). To cultivate such a connection, you must get to know your clients’ needs. Examine your financial records, invoices and communications to determine:

  • Who your best clients are
  • How much business they do with you, on average
  • What goods or services they purchase most
  • What related goods or services might appeal to them.

Customer service“, even though we’re really talking about clients, is one of the single most important overlooked practices of Small Businesses. We’re not just talking about handling complaints, and correcting the occasional error in order fulfillment. This is about developing lasting relationships that can make the difference between prosperity and bankruptcy.

These relationships BEGIN with the sale, but do not end there. If, for you, a successful purchase is the end of your active concern… that may be why your client retention rates are lower than they could be.   Just as your relationships with family, friends and loved ones can go cold from neglect, you must put a sincere effort into nurturing your client relationships.

Find new ways to relate to them, but be careful of crossing into the “spam zone“.   You want them to appreciate the constant contact, not dread and avoid each new phone call or email. Focus on the value you add to their lives and businesses; it’s okay if this takes some time and effort.

What have you got to lose — except opportunity, revenue… and clients?

Series inspired by “Top Ten Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail” by: Connie Holt, E.A. cholt@henssler.com
The Henssler Financial Group Position Paper
© 2004 The Henssler Financial Group | www.henssler.com

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2 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail – part four”

  1. From the "eating your own dogfood" department:

    I'm finishing up at a client site. This was suppose to be a… simple (?) transfer of a legacy program from one PC to two others.

    Assumptions on my part made the process take longer than expected, and added minor complications in the funcioning of Outlook on the two target PCs. I stopped the (billing) clock at three hours, am finishing the job, and will return at my expense to eliminate the errors which appear at starting Outlook.

    One way to view this is that this is basically a break-even day. But in truth, and in keeping with the spirit of this post, it's about about maintaining good relations with a client I hope to do more business with.

    I can worry about getting paid up front, or I can sow the seeds of good will even when I make mistakes. Instead of leaving a bad taste in my clients mouth, I leave the (real) impression that I will do what it takes to perform the job as expected, and will *never* make the client pay for me to climb the learning curve, however steep…

    Cornell D. Green

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