5 Ways to Increase Repeat Purchases at Your Business-to-Consumer Company
I’m talking to you: florists, designers and decorators, salons and spas, automotive services, dry cleaners, food markets, photographers, child care, pet sitting, tutoring, coaching, music teachers, coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants and cafes, and professionals such as doctors, lawyers and CPAs plus others you may think of.
1) Invest heavily in your customer facing staff. There is no substitute for a friendly person, face-to-face or on the phone, who is knowledgeable, has the authority to fix small mistakes, and puts the customer, not the company first. Most B-to-C companies do not spend enough money and time with the people who are the face of the company. A two-times increase in compensation will generate a 5-10 times increase in repeat business.
2) Speed commensurate with quality and value should be your first priority. Answer the phone immediately, respond to email requests and forms people submit, and resolve problems the minute you learn about them. Set up all systems and departments with speed in mind. Do not promise speed and fail to deliver. (An HVAC company I know boasts of 24 hour emergency service but I’ve yet to get any emergency resolved in less than 7 days because the parts department only works 5 days per week.)
3) Create an array of offerings that deliver a variety of benefits and value at different price points. (See my Go Scorecard and GO Curve) Talk to every buyer about this array, simply and with the benefits first. Offer to book or outbook one right away; get back to the buyer in a few days; or put a customized package together that focuses on the specific value to that customer. One size never fits all and you lose more business by refusing to customize than it costs you to customize.
4) Create intangibles that have high value to the buyer and low cost to you. Some options: exceptional convenience; access to the best person in your company; limited editions; unique designs or products; prestigious affinity groups. If you sell luxury goods, invite your buyers to a wine-and-cheese event where they can hear an expert speak about a related luxury (travel, jewelry, image). Invite your tax return clients to network and listen to a business growth specialist. Bring a color expert in to speak with your design clients and their families. Let your imagination loose for these
5) Invest in your internal efforts to improve and innovate. Even a fantastic, original idea will be copied eventually and you will have to offer something new in order to stay ahead. When you make improvements and innovations a normal part of your company culture, you will create and launch new offerings all the time. Apple is a great example of continuously improving and innovating. Your business does not need the resources of Apple. It only needs your commitment and leadership plus a small budget.
Repeat business from current buyers is the easiest and most cost effective business to generate. The buyer already knows your company, has had a good experience with it (right?) and values the reciprocal familiarity between you and him or her.
Continuous development of new offerings combined with exceptional service is the winning formula for increasing repeat business.
(NOTE: Not one of these is a recommendation to give discounts. Why? Because discounts cost you money and never generate repeat business without more discounts.)