August – Building Staff & Client Loyalty – It’s more than random acts of appreciation.
Showing appreciation for customer loyalty is one of the easiest ways to ensure continued loyalty. Of course, this assumes that the obvious (being competitive and having consistent quality) are firmly intact.
Client loyalty is a very special bond held together by a very costly and precious adhesive. Even though franchisees and independents know how important client loyalty is for the bottom-line; rarely do you find an owner that nurtures client loyalty. That begs the question: Do you know the value of your client?
This was a little talk I had any time I saw a manager or teacher express a little impatience or ‘tude’ towards a client. Remember, I owned a franchised early child development center with new competitors coming into the market (my market!) every year. The talk, directed to the offending staff member went something like this:
“Allow me to share a little math with you. Please step into the office so you can focus on this.” Then I launched right in. “That baby’s Father is paying us $195 a week to care for his child and to be nice to him. Let’s call it $800 a month. That is $9,600 for the first year, and if we don’t tick him off, it’s over $45,000 by the time that sweet little angel goes off to Kindergarten. If, we are so fortunate, and he chooses our fine facility for after-school care for the next 6 years, then on top of the $45,000, we’ll make an additional $16,200, and that doesn’t even include Summer Camp which adds an extra $9,750 bringing the total to $70,950 over the course of 11 years. With that number in mind, I want to make sure that you go out of your way to make sure that client and every client knows by your tone and your patience and your smile, just how much we value their business. Are we clear? Great, I thought that would be helpful.” Very succinct, very direct and done.
Because I instilled a culture of entrepreneurialism within my organization, thankfully that little ‘talk’ didn’t have to happen very often. After this discussion, the employee understood fully the importance of keeping each client. Everyone knew the value of a client because we talked about it annually at our quarterly staff meetings. It’s a great exercise to run through with your staff. They will better understand your business, ‘their’ business, and it empowers them when you share that type of information. And it keeps the ‘tude’ in check. Here is my challenge:
Whether you are a franchise, small or medium sized business, if you have loyal clients, it’s time to put a process in place that appropriately recognizes them as valued clients.
Next week I’ll share what I did at Kids R Kids Academy and some considerations for designing a creative program that will be easy to implement and maintain, withstand turnover and that will get your clients squarely in the loyalty corner.
Your Mission – Should you decide to accept it, is to do your math. To design a meaningful program, you should know the value of a loyal client for one year, three years and five years. Good Luck!