Keep Your Best Clients by walterray



Keep Your Best Clients                                                                                                  On average,

    f you’re trying to save                     The problem with offer-         a very regular basis is the
    dollars for your business,               ing initial order discounts        most important part of client
    look no further than client
    retention. It costs a lot
more to go out and find a new
client than it does to develop
                                             is that some clients will go
                                             from decorator to decora-
                                             tor (or digitizer to digitizer)
                                             to get the discount. “In that
                                                                                retention. One easy way to
                                                                                keep in touch is to send your
                                                                                client a thank-you note after
                                                                                you’ve completed his order.
                                                                                                                     client accounts
client loyalty and keep your                 sense, it’s very difficult try-     “Really, one of the best ways            in 2008.
current clients happy, but                   ing to keep in touch with          to keep in touch with a client     2009 State of the Industry survey
that can still be a tall order.              clients,” Fishman says. “One       is to thank them for coming
“I’m working on retention                    day you’re the best thing out      in to your shop and doing        price was a major consider-
constantly,” says Jay Fishman,               there, and then you haven’t        business with you,” says Don     ation for clients, but they’re
owner of Wicked Stitch of                    heard from them in a while.”       Tillquist, owner of Coastal      also looking for additional
the East, a digitizing busi-                 Stitches talked to decorators to
                                                    s                           Embroidery LLC. However,         services. “What we try to do
ness. “That’s because every                  find out how they’re keeping        “we don’t include advertising    is to first show people qual-
new digitizer out there will                 their name out there – and         in our thank-you notes.” A       ity at a reasonable price, not
offer the first design free, and              building relationships that        thank-you gesture might not      necessarily the lowest price,”
what’s difficult is that some                 last with their clients.           seem as genuine if it includes   says Gino Ventresca, gen-
clients will chase those dis-                   1. Say thank you. Nearly        a plug for the next hot prod-    eral manager of National
counts,” rather than stay with               every decorator we inter-          uct.                             Embroidery and Transfers
a trusted and proven service                 viewed stressed that keeping          2. What else can I do for     Ltd. (asi/299298) “If someone
provider.                                    in touch with your client on       you? Our survey found that       comes in and says, ‘Well, I can
                                                                                                                 go down the street and get this
                                                                                                                 for 50 cents less,’ my answer
                                                                                                                 to that is, ‘What else can that
                                                                                                                 decorator do for you?’” And,
Customer Focus                                                                                                   many times Ventresca’s clients
We asked Stitches readers to rate some customer-related situations they found themselves in last
                                                                                                                 stop and think. “They often
year. Here are the statements with which they most “strongly agreed.”
                                                                                                                 say, ‘I never thought of it that
                                                                                                                 way,’” he says.
                                                                                                                    In order to add value to their
                                  based upon price.
                                                                                          65%                    clients’ experience, National
               Our clients believe it’s important to
            justify use of decorated apparel based                                                               Embroidery and Transfers
                  upon their return on investment.                         44%                                   offers clients everything from
                         Clients are seeking more                                                                embroidery and heat transfers
                     marketing services in addition
                             to decorated product.
                                                                     35%                                         to promotional products, plus
            We have no/little difficulty in recruiting                                                            one thing that’s even more
                                         new clients.             31%                                            important: information. “I
               If we could help clients track promo-                                                             keep information on hand
            tional program effectiveness, we could
                  charge a premium for this service.
                                                          19%                                                    about other services that my
                   We feel increased demand from
                                                                                                                 clients might need,” Ventresca
                 our clients to help them track the          9.1%                                                says. “I can’t do all their mar-
           effectiveness of promotional programs.
                                                                                                                 keting or create their logo, but
                      Our sales increased this year
                              due to the elections.
                                                         5.1%                                                    I’m happy to help them find
                                                                                                                 someone who can. You’d be
                                                                                                                 surprised how often people call
                                                                                                                 back to say thank you.”
2009 State of the Industry survey


     “I’ve been working on a survey through                                                                 FOUR STEPS because I really                                                                   Retain Top
    wanted to know the good and the bad, and                                                                Customers
      people won’t always tell me the bad.”
                                                                                                            1 Educate them on qual-
                                                                                                              ity. Show your custom-
                                                                                                            ers examples of poor-
   3. Give a gift. Sometimes      “It’s not that I expect them      McGinn’s name will be top
a branded gift is the best        to order the gift, just to        of mind.                                quality decoration and
                                                                                                            compare them with your
way to remind a client about      enjoy it,” she says. She often       4. Keep them satisfied.
                                                                                                            work so they can see the
your services and build a         gives gifts from another part     One final way to make sure
                                                                                                            quality you provide.
better relationship. “I send      of her business, as she also      your clients are happy is
out thank-you notes and, of       does laser engraving and          to survey them about their
course, Christmas cards and
holiday greetings, but what
                                  sewing. For instance, if the
                                  client orders embroidered
                                                                    satisfaction after their order is
                                                                    completed. “I’ve been work-
                                                                                                            2   Accentuate personal
                                                                                                                service. Create a
                                                                                                            dialogue with your clients
really seems to work is send-     shirts, she might give them a     ing on a survey through www.            and remember the per-
ing out a thoughtful gift every   personalized laser-engraved because                sonal details they share
once in a while after a big       clock. “I want them to            I really wanted to know the             with you, such as informa-
order,” says Marcia McGinn,       know that they aren’t just        good and the bad, and people            tion about their children.
owner of Distinctive Togs.        an order to me when they          won’t always tell me the bad,”          Personal service is often
“I don’t do it every time they    walk through my door, and         Fishman says. Unless some-              more important to a client
walk in my door, but I do it      this has proven to be the         thing has gone terribly wrong           than price.
when they least suspect it.”      best way,” she says. But, the     with their order, many clients
   McGinn gives her clients
samples of other things they
                                  next time her client needs a
                                  unique logoed product, such
                                                                    will simply swallow minor
                                                                    dissatisfaction, but won’t
                                                                                                            3    Pay for your mistakes.
                                                                                                                 If you make a mistake,
                                                                                                            make sure it doesn’t affect
haven’t ordered from her.         as a laser-engraved clock,        place another order with
                                                                                                            your client. If you embroi-
                                                                                                            der something incorrectly,
  Keep It Simple                                                                                            offer to buy new shirts for
                                                                                                            your client and re-run the

  Want to keep your customers happy? Then keep it simple. A recent           84%                            job.

  survey by the global brand consultancy Siegel+Gale found that 84% of
  customers are more likely to trust companies that communicate clearly.
                                                                                 of customers
                                                                                are more likely
                                                                                                            4    Go the extra mile.
                                                                                                                 Offer logoed hangers,
                                                                                                            custom packaging and
  And, 79% of respondents said, “Clarity, transparency and simplicity               to trust                delivery options – your cli-
  should be a priority.” Complicating things has gotten the country into       companies that
                                                                                                            ents will appreciate it and
  the current financial mess it is in, said three-quarters of those polled.       communicate
                                                                                                            keep sending your their
    Chet Budd, vice president of MPC Promotions (asi/258113), says
                                                               3                    clearly.
  the findings “reflect consumers wanting to go back to basics and feel
  comfortable. Traditional values are replacing the glitz and glamour, the high-tech, newest and
  greatest ways to do business. It’s about looking back to the core values of dealing with people
  and interacting with a human being rather than cramming something down their throats.”                 you. Instead, take a proactive
    For John Lockheed, president of Brand It Inc. (asi/145034), it’s about keeping the quote
                                                                 4                                       approach and create a way to
  form as easy to understand as possible. “We created a quote form that is clear and simple.             follow up with clients after
  Our communications with our customers about their orders are clear and simple. We use                  each order to ensure they are
  templates where we change the information so they are to the point about the status of the             happy. Even something as
  order.” – KH                                                                                           simple as a short e-mail will
                                                                                                         do the trick. – JC

                                                                       • STITCHES • STATE OF THE INDUSTRY 2009
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