If you’re a small business owner, you may be among those hit hardest in these economic times. In addition to paying a mortgage that may be in trouble, you have operating expenses, accounting costs, legal and licensing fees, and a host of other financial concerns. What’s more, you are completely at the mercy of the financial situation of your clients. As your customers or potential customers are forced to adjust their budgets, you can only hope that your goods or services won’t be the ones they have to give up next. It’s a simple fact that a business without clientele isn’t going to be a business for long.
So, the business of staying in business is a twofold process in today’s market. You need to operate your business in the most efficient manner possible to keep overhead down. More importantly, you need to retain your clients and gain new customers while they try to navigate through their own financial storms. This article will focus on the latter of those two processes. The list below may offer some solid ways to keep your existing clients and gather new ones in the trying times the experts tell us we can expect.
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Temporarily lower your prices
Alright, so we start with the hardest one to consider. Obviously, lowering your product prices or service fees lowers your profit margin. On the other hand, it tells your client that you understand his/her hardships and are willing to try to help. It may also bring you new business, based solely on the higher prices of your competitors.
Customer incentives are a great way to show your clients you appreciate them. One of the most often overlooked is a loyalty rewards program. If a client has been spending hard-earned dollars on you for a number of years, acknowledge that loyalty by giving something back. Provide a free month of service, a free gift from your inventory, or most anything you can afford. You’ll be surprised at how far a little thanks will go.
If you’re not already giving your clients cash or credit for bringing more business to you, start now. No amount of advertising is as valuable as a customer that sings your praises. Any small reward for a referral won’t go unnoticed, and you may find some that will work hard to convince their friends.
Extend service/subscription times
If you can’t afford to lower prices for a service, consider adding some time to the service. For example, if you offer website hosting for your clients, tack on an extra 3 to 6 months to your service plans. Chances are you won’t see any revenue loss and you may gain some new accounts.
Revise payment plans
If you offer services or goods to your clients on a pay-as-you-go basis, consider revising payment schedules in any way that makes it easier for your client to continue those payments.
Again, these are only a few ideas to help you start finding ways to help ensure that your business doesn’t flounder because your passengers jump ship. You’ll undoubtedly come up with several of your own. Just remember that the key is in helping your business by helping your clients.