I just finished reading a book by Joe Jaffe called “Flip the Funnel”. It is an inspiring book that illustrates the positive influence of keeping the customers one already has and leveraging that relationship to gain new customers, instead of devoting all of your energy to enticing new clients. Several of my recent experiences have reinforced the theme of this book.
A client of ours keeps a couple of jumpers with a local trainer. This person is an ideal customer who pays his bills on time, buys new horses for both his kids and the trainer to ride, goes to all the local shows, and ships to Florida in the winter. The trainer’s services have begun to slip by missing entry deadlines, failing to schedule the farrier regularly, ignoring the client’s daughter at the horse shows, all while spending much more time with a new client who does does not go to all the shows, is miserable to other barn clients, and is cheap. This other client is always complaining about costs and has become a pervasively negative presence in the barn, with little upside from a business point of view.
Another example is the restaurant my wife and I frequently visit. It seems lately that the more regularly we go, and the more we bring other people, the worse we are treated. We tip very well, always order a moderately expensive bottle of wine based on their recommendation, and rave about the food. I believe that we are ideal patrons. This past Saturday night we went for dinner and were unapologetically walked right past the table that we had specifically reserved earlier in the week, to a lousy table in the back of the room, and were then sold a bottle of wine that was twice the cost of what we typically spend. What did we do? We ate our meal and skipped our usual cappuccino and deserts. We felt ripped off and used and just wanted to go home. We were taken for granted. Compare this to another restaurant where we are regulars; every time we dine there the chef comes out to say hello when we arrive. Not just us either. He greets all of his regulars. At the end of the night he sends out either a grappa or another drink on the house. Once he is finished in the kitchen the chef comes out and spends a few more minutes chatting with us and other patrons. When we are thinking of going out for dinner next where do you think we will go?
My wife and I came up with the idea for this blog as we gnawed our way through a meal where the great food was ruined by the diffident attitude surrounding us. It got us thinking about our great clients. How do we treat them? Do we show them the respect they deserve? Do we take anyone for granted? We were reminded that we all want to feel important when we are using a service. Especially when we are such fans. This is simple human nature. Even if your product is outstanding, bad service will alienate and drive away even your most ardently loyal clients
It is far easier to keep the great clients we have then find new ones. What are you doing to keep your best clients coming back for more and encouraging them to tell all their friends about your practice?