Friday, 31 August 2001 10:00

A sure-fire way to generate referrals and repeat business

Written by Tracy Bains

This is a "huge secret" that can lead to tons of repeat business and referrals! Stay in touch. Stay in front of your client's faces! 

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Dumping a lot of money into advertising is foolish without placing an emphasis on client retention. The Lifetime Value of a Client can be so extraordinarily high, you absolutely must do everything you can to retain your clients.

Why? Because these same clients may need your repair services again. Those same clients can turn into referral machines for you. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have 100 or 500 people marketing your company rather than just yourself? What a sales force.
One of the best ways to cultivate an ongoing relationship with your clients is to communicate with them each and every month in a quick, efficient, cost-effective manner. The best way to do this is with a client newsletter! This is called data base marketing. People like to do business with people they know. So remind them they know you!

Why is a monthly newsletter so powerful?

1. It develops an ongoing relationship between you and your clients.

2. It keeps you and your company at the top of your clients' consciousness.

3. It gives you a chance to sell some more services.

4. It gives you a chance to continually educate your clients.

5. Your clients will appreciate the car care information you give them.

6. You can provide a ton of public praise and recognition for clients who have referred others to you. This will increase the number of referrals you get. Since one client sees that others refer you, she will be inclined to as well.

A monthly newsletter is an absolute must. Your clients need to keep seeing your name! Cultivate that relationship! Send out an interesting, entertaining monthly newsletter. You should also send this newsletter out to everyone else who you want to keep your name in front of.

For example your insurance referral sources, prospects you saw but who didn't buy from you, people who have responded to your direct response advertising, and neighborhoods where you want to pick up business.

Mail them, mail them, and mail them!

The idea is simple. Out of sight, out of mind. You need to have regular communication with them to remind them why they should start or continue to do business with you. Remind them that referrals are accepted, appreciated and rewarded! Inform them of monthly specials - perhaps a deal on detailing or a low price painting job for an older car.

Just do one, and make it personal

You need to write your own, personalized newsletter with messages of interest to your clients. It can be simple, even just one page long (2 - 4 pages is better). But it must be personal, filled with all kinds of news about your business, employees, promotions, and other marketing items. It's OK to include tips and stuff about the automotive industry - just don't forget the personal stuff.

For example, it could contain news about an upcoming event, like a client appreciation day, client of the month, referral programs, seasonal specials, before and after pictures of a heavy hit that you fixed beautifully, etc. Add a section with some good clean jokes. And I would definitely include monthly client testimonials!

Don't lose sight of the purpose, however. You're using this to try to get new business, repeat business, and referral business. You want to stimulate those reading your newsletter to take action. That action could be calling you to look at their damaged car, referring a friend, or responding to a special on a Fall detail package!

I believe your newsletter should always contain your picture somewhere in the upper left or right comer. You want people to remember they are doing business with a person, a regular guy/gal, and a friend. Not just some impersonal company.

I also like the idea of calling your clients "members." All of your clients are "members" in your organization. It gives them a sense of belonging to something. They belong, others don't. You can even issue special V I P membership cards good for special discounts.

If you aren't mailing your past and prospective clients a monthly newsletter, you might as well take a wad of cash out of the bank and just tear it up!

For some shops, writing the newsletter, laying it out, labeling and mailing it is a challenge. Talk to your printer or a direct mail house about local writers and graphic artists - they often know who is good, and cheap!

Another option: If you feel that you can't write and produce it yourself, and want it done by someone who knows what works - and what doesn't - call me at Body Shop Marketing and find out what we can do for you. Call (303) 663-6192. Your shop can have its own custom newsletter, but have it produced for you, at a very reasonable price. Call me and I'll send you a free sample and answer all of your questions!

Tracy Bains is the president of Body Shop Marketing.