Creating Long-term Customer Relationships in the Glass Business
We put a lot of effort into finding new customers. We advertise, run specials, and do all sorts of different types of marketing just to convert prospects into clients or customers. If you are marketing to homeowners, you know that you may end up with just a single sale when all is said and done. Whether it’s a window project, a shower enclosure, a mirror job, or a glass railing―chances are it may be the only time you will ever do business with that particular customer. Still, it is worth the effort to find them and make that sale.
Keep customers coming back
The glass products that we provide last for many years, so we don’t tend to consider the possibility for repeat customers in many cases. A homeowner that purchases a shower enclosure may not be in the market for another one for the next 20 years. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be needing a glass shop for some other purpose.
I can’t count the number of times that we are hired by someone who mentions the last glass shop they had do work for them. For whatever reason, they want someone different for their current project. Sometimes they mention what they didn’t like about the last guys…sometimes they don’t. Whatever the case, they aren’t calling them back. They are calling us.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to treat each encounter with a new customer as though we plan to work with them again in the future, no matter how unlikely that may be. After all, we have put so much effort and expense into getting them to do business with us the first time.
The cost of getting new customers
If you are a marketing nerd you understand the principle of acquisition cost. This is essentially the expense incurred to find a new customer and help them to buy your product. Some companies lose money on the first sale every time because they are confident that they will make up for the acquisition expense over the life of the relationship through repeat business. It’s a strategy that works for many businesses.
The vast majority of the customers that I personally do business with are one-time customers. Still, if I can serve the same customer again in the future it will lower my overall acquisition cost. Even if it is only a small percentage of my customer base, it just makes sense to market to my existing customers, especially when I am able to do it at little or no additional cost.
One method that we have found successful is to reach out to our previous customers just before their warranty expires in order to make sure everything is still working. It nearly always is, but the impact this has on the customer is pretty profound. There are many ways to work toward retaining customers, and you can find lots of great ideas with a little research. Let me know if you have found a technique that works well for you.