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Many business owners believe in the 80/20 principle, also known as Pareto's Law. They believe that 80 percent of their revenue comes from only 20 percent of their customers. For some operators, having so much at risk with such a small group could be a very sobering thought. Regardless of the age and location of your business, your established customer base always merits special attention. Through natural attrition, you will lose some 3-8 percent of your loyal customers each year, and you should also anticipate that others will have occasional glitches in their normal shopping habits.
If you are not fully conscious of these subtle shifts, you could suddenly find that after any eight or 10 month period, a substantial portion of your once-solid customer base has evaporated.
Communicating effectively with these high-value customers has other challenges too. For instance, as the quick lube franchises have learned, trying to increase frequency among core customers can be a well-intentioned but flawed marketing task which yields disappointing results. How often can you change your oil if you already do so every 3,000 or 5,000 miles? Regular visitors of your wash will be most responsive to two activities which will strongly validate for these VIPs the reason why they will continue to do business with you.
First, thank them always for their continued patronage. Be certain your employees express their genuine appreciation too. You can never fail to impress a customer when every transaction ends with a sincere and heart-felt "thank you for your business."
Also, solicit their unvarnished feedback. Your best customers want you to be successful too, and they will not be at all reluctant to help you improve your business. "What could we do to improve your wash experience here?" Another question which could lead to a productive discussion and yield a valuable response: "Do you think we should open early a couple of days a week?"
Embrace new and innovative ideas. Become intensely interested to learn how else you can completely satisfy your core customers.
Finally, be creative and package a carwash purchase with other products and services. The smartest retailers in every type of business anticipate their customers' needs and offer them add-on or cross-sales opportunities which also allow you to build a higher average ticket price. Your best customers will appreciate this value-added effort.
Mike Perry has more than 30 years of experience in business-to-business sales and in retail marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 770-330-2490.