I was driving to work the other day when I noticed a billboard featuring an advertisement for a popular company. It (not surprisingly) boasted how much money I could save by switching to their company. I couldn’t help but think about this statement and wonder what it is that makes these advertisements so common. Simply because you attract a new customer based on price doesn’t mean that you have secured a life-long business relationship.
I know that times have been tight, but I greatly value and respect the long-standing relationships I have with some of my service providers. Take my car insurance provider for example. I’ve been faithfully with the same company since I was old enough to insure my own car. We have a relationship. I know whom I can call if I’m in an accident – or if say a tree falls on my car. I wouldn’t trust my car, home and most prized possessions to just anyone. I want a dependable and trusted ally to fight for me. The same principle is applied to all of my service providers all the way down to our pest control company – Larry and I are on a first name basis. My dog, Sadie, greets him warmly every time he comes to spray around the house. Even my favorite shoe and clothing stores keep me hooked with specials “just for me” and free gifts with purchase. I wouldn’t switch from these companies just to save a buck or two.
Now, when it comes down to it, I’ll admit that money is important. But when it’s a dollar difference – and it isn’t in your favor as the product or service provider – what have you done to insure that that additional dollar won’t cost you your business? This is where relationship building comes into play. When you nurture your relationships with your current customers, you have a greater chance at overcoming the smaller obstacles when they arise.
One of the best, and easiest, means of building business relationships it to express your gratitude to your customers. When you thank a client after the close of a sale or simply for being your customer for another year, you show them that you are more than just another company. You reinforce a personal connection that is oftentimes stronger than a business association with a foundation based only on price. Distribute promotional products to your clients after the close of a sale. Or send out a promotional giveaway to all of your customers as the year winds down. You give them a tangible reminder of who you are, what you sell and what service you provide. And don’t forget to give corporate holiday gifts to your top customers (and employees of course). No matter how large or small the gesture may be, helping to reinforce that connection with your clients helps keep your business strong enough to weather the tough times.
Kim Patton Johnson
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