Customers are the pillar of a business. Knowing how to keep them by your side can keep you in business for long.
Photo credit: Gustavo Fring.
You have started a business. It’s a dream come true to set your working routine and be free of time constraints. You have several exciting projects in line, and you wake up energized to work on them.
While you are at it, something else happens; there is fear lurking at the back of your mind. You want to ignore the feeling, but you know it is valid. You realize that you don’t have long-term work requests and because you are concerned about the future, you don’t know what will happen when the current projects come to an end. You want long term engagements with clients.
You sit and wonder: how can I get repeating clients? How can I ensure that I am the first person in my clients' minds when projects arise in the future? How can I ensure that my competitors do not beat me in the game? The answers to these questions are surprisingly simple and have been listed below. Read on.
1. Inform about your competencies truthfully
Getting the first client can be a challenge. When the delay becomes unbearable, some exaggerate their capabilities to lure potential members. While this may help you enlist the first client, it is risky. It can ruin your reputation and sabotage future consideration if the truth is revealed. It can also make the candidate doubt the credibility of your work and eventually cut all connections.
It is best to inform your prospects about your capabilities truthfully and additional skills you may be learning.
2. Respond to queries quickly
Every project comes with time limitations. This means that clients will want to know how the work progresses even when the due date is far away. To pave the way for long term commitments, respond to queries truthfully and quickly. If you are away, you can use automation services to inform you when the client can expect a response or seek external services.
3. Inform about the progress even when not inquired
To showcase sensitivity to time and commitment to the projects, inform your clients about the progress even when not inquired. You can do this with a short email such as:
Hi (Client Name),
I hope all is well with you.
I just wanted to inform you that I am still working on the project, and everything is progressing well. You will have it on/before the agreed date.
It gives confidence that the project is in safe hands.
4. Deliver quality work
The quality of your work is the critical determinant of your longevity in the industry. If the results are commendable, you may work with the clients for years or get a pool of referrals.
Strive to understand the requirements deeply and how the project contributes to achieving the long-term goals and vision. Seek clarification in the areas that are unclear and additional help if unsure of how to process.
5. Deliver on time
Time is crucial in all projects. This does not mean that you should hasten to finish the work at the expense of quality. On the contrary, start working on the project as soon as it is agreed upon to leave ample time for revisions if necessary.
Delivering on time shows that you are reliable and can easily earn you future consideration.
6. Set and clarify ground rules
Do you prefer a certain percentage of payment before starting the project or after a specific period? Inform the client about it. If the client has a different working approach, consider a discussion to arrive at common ground.
This can prevent disagreements that often arise when monetary and non-monetary demands are made.
7. Adhere to the rules
One rule that is common across projects is confidentiality. You may have realized that some clients demand it more than others and it is your duty to build the trust. When discussing the project, inquire about possible restrictions that they might have and adhere to them.
8. Tell them that you are looking for long-term commitments
Some entrepreneurs are happy to handle short-projects for many clients rather than sign up for long-term commitments. If you are looking for the latter, inform the candidates about it to earn consideration in future. This can easily open up a discussion about the frequency of the projects and other opportunities available.
9. Ask for referrals
Seeking referrals is an excellent way of finding clients who are likely to sign up with ease. It reduces the hassle of getting attention, booking appointments, and proving your capability.
10. Be mindful of your reputation
Personal and professional lives are closely related. Generally, people will avoid interacting with those who have questionable character as a way of protecting their own. While this may seem like an unfair treatment, it is an unavoidable impulse. Therefore, let your personal choices appeal to those who may be seeking your professional services.
11. Provide valuable leads where possible
Normally, business relations open paths for collaboration in many scenarios. If you are in a position to offer help in areas that are not related to the current assignment, jump on it. It is proof of selflessness and can easily open the path for long-term commitments.
Finally, customers are the pillar of a business. Knowing how to keep them by your side can keep you in business for long.