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Competition is tough in small business. Customers come and go and the need to pour money, effort and time into marketing is always there. Always. But in your quest for new customers, don't overlook one of the most important keys to small business success: turning new customers into repeat customers and fans. Anything you can do to build loyalty and repeat business is usually welcomed. That said, I present here 8 potential ways to show customers your appreciation, hopefully without too much effort.
Offer a "tips on us" discount. This is only relevant if your business or service is one that regularly brings in tips for your employees like a restaurant, barber shop or salon, or coffee shop, etc. What you're really doing is giving the customer a 15% discount as that is a reasonable tip in the service industry and you can state it as such, but you tell them to just leave off the tip and you'll cover it.
2 question survey. Do a short feedback survey at the time of payment. You can do this verbally or somehow electronically, but take advantage of the feedback and post results on the door or as near the checkout area so your customers can see them - and of course post them on social media. Don't forget to change around the questions and topics every one to two weeks.
Give away a small free item at service time or at payment time - whichever is relevant to the business. Make it an unadvertised addition and tailor it to the patron if you can. If you are a cleaners and someone is coming in with only shirts, then offer them a free shirt cleaning because a discount on suit dry cleaning won't do them any good on this current trip.
Implement a punch card type reward. Everyone likes to get the fifth car wash or soda or entree free. I don't do many coupons that aren't pizza related, but those punch cards are golden.
Run a weather related discount. If the temp exceeds 75 today everyone gets 20% off. Or your discount this month is whatever 100 minus yesterday's high temp was. A jewelry store ran a similar sale when I was buying my future wife's engagement ring many years ago. It worked on me!
“You have to think outside the box to get ahead or stay ahead or maybe just to stay in the game.”
Offer free delivery to orders over $100 or a relevant amount if it works for your type of service or industry. Free shipping rocks. What about free local delivery? If what you provide in your small business or service, can it be delivered? Not pizza - that’s an obvious one. But if you’re a small office supply provider and you don’t currently offer delivery, try it for orders over a certain amount. See how it boosts your business.
RELATED: Repeat Business Tips and Advice
Walk patrons out to their car at night after dark. My wife was at an Olive Garden with some girlfriends last night and didn't make it home till 11:30 pm even though she was tired and wanted to leave earlier. But she wisely didn't want to traverse the parking lot alone so she waited till a group of her friends were leaving, too. Had a security guard been available and offered she would have gotten the sleep she was looking forward to.
Give away pizza with certain size orders. Seriously. Everyone loves pizza. Well, nearly everyone. But there are 13 of us in my family - my wife and I and our 11 kids - and we all love pizza. Do a tie in with a local pizza place and give away one of their pizzas with all orders over a certain amount. I once was asked to sign up for a tech webinar with the promise of a Domino’s Pizza being provided for sitting in. I was skeptical, but as I sat down for the beginning of the webinar in the comfort of my home office in front of my MacBook, a Domino’s delivery guy was knocking on my door. It was just Domino’s, but for some reason it was one of the best pizzas I had experienced in a while. Try it.
The bottom line here is to be creative. Competition is competition. You have to think outside the box to get ahead or stay ahead or maybe just to stay in the game. Try something your competition isn’t trying. Try something that may not even be related to your business, like pizza. If that doesn’t work, move to something else. But don’t be afraid to try new options for boosting your business. They don’t have to be expensive or risky, just noticeable.
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