If you’ve lived in the same place for some time, it’s likely that you frequent certain restaurants, shops, and other businesses. Over time, you’ve probably built a close relationship with the owners and employees. You may even be on a first name basis, know about each other’s families, and have a general interest in their lives.
Whether it’s a pizza shop or the post office, these close relationships are the key to good business. But if you aren’t already applying these same principles to your own business, you can’t expect to have the same level of communication and trust with your clients.
Though it’s important to show genuine interest in your clients from the get-go, you don’t want to come on too strong or seem pushy. There needs to be balance. When you first start working with a client, a good first step is to collect as much information from them as you can in natural conversation. You should already be in the habit of finding common ground with clients—similarities in your likes and dislikes, if you enjoy any of the same activities, etc. This gives you a talking point in the future, and a potential way to connect outside of your business.
Stay in touch.
Once you’ve built a rapport, you’ll want to make sure you don’t allow the communication to run flat. You’ve spent time building this relationship, and just like any other, you have to work to keep it going. One of the best ways to maintain correspondence is through direct marketing—be it print or digital. Consider sending a monthly email with valuable content you know your client will enjoy. Making your marketing specific enough to make an impact is critical. Think about it this way: if you’re in the market for a new car and you get an ad from Toyota and an ad from Schwinn, which are you more likely to click on? Keep your marketing relevant and as targeted as possible.
Invest your time.
Running a business takes a lot of time. Marketing your business takes a lot of time. So, you might feel like there’s no time left for anything else. However, part of improving your relationships with clients has to come from being visible. If your clients get an email or newsletter from you every month but never actually see you, they won’t necessarily have your trust. Make sure you and your business are synonymous. When someone thinks real estate, dentistry, insurance—whatever industry it may be—they need to think of you. Make an effort to attend community events and be a presence in your business, not just a player in the background.
Beat their expectations.
People aren’t always easy to please. It can take a lot of practice in the customer service department to learn what you’ll need to do in order to get good feedback from your clients, but it’s worth it. There’s something to be said for going above and beyond for the people who support your business every day and help keep it afloat. If you know someone is a dog lover, send them a box of biscuits for their pet. If a client is looking for volunteers for an event they’re hosting, consider signing up. When you show just how invested you are, it’s hard for clients to not support you.
Without a solid foundation of support from your clients, running your business smoothly will be an uphill battle. No matter how you choose to direct your efforts toward better client relations, improving these relationships will make all the difference in your success.