Growing business, lessons from gardeners. Lesson 7.

As time progresses plants mature some die. Some will hibernate only to bounce back next Spring. Customers are the same. Some stay with us for years, utterly loyal. We take them for granted at our peril. They need some love too or they may die back!

Stay in touch to keep customers


Staying in touch with your previous customers will have the same effect as applying a mulch to your garden. It will encourage new growth. Photo:

A good gardener will apply a mulch and fertiliser to dormant plants to encourage future growth. This is the equivalent of staying in touch with lapsed customers. Are they on your mailing list? How often do you call them? Could you send them a greetings card? Have you made them an offer to come back?

Calling a former customer to see how they are will usually be viewed as a nice gesture showing you care. This doesn’t have to be a sales call. Just call to say you’ve missed the customer and check that there is no problem with their last purchase, if there is this is your opportunity to put the problem right.

Don’t allow customers to forget you

Some customers may not buy for a period of time but if we stay in touch they won’t forget us when they need our service again. Research suggests that even happy customers forget us in 90 days unless we stay in touch. People lose things. They lose our contact details. They forget our name. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to trade with us so what do you do to stay in touch with people; to win customers for the long term?

Here are some ideas to make sure you retain your customers:

  • Monitor customers’ buying behaviour and have a system for targeting those who haven’t bought for some time
  • Send regular newsletters or marketing communications
  • Send greetings cards. If you have details of customers’ birthdays you can send a birthday card with a discount voucher towards their next purchase
  • Call them for a chat and make it personal, show you remember a personal detail
  • Find them on social media and rekindle the relationship
  • Invite them back to your shop, restaurant or for a catch up coffee
  • Invite them to a customer event, maybe to celebrate a business milestone

Why not share what you do to retain customers here? What has worked? Have you done something that has backfired? Do share your experiences so that others can learn from you.


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