Regardless of how the economy is doing, you should employ the following concepts into your business. In good times it can make your clients rave about you to everyone. In difficult times they will not only increase your referrals, but help your clients stay with you longer and return to you should they need to let go of the service briefly.
Recently, a study was conducted by J.D.Powers about Airline customers biggest complaint is customer service. Complaints about customer service are more than double their complaints about price. Other studies have indicated that people would be happier to pay more to have better service. Delivering quality customer service is probably the number one thing you can do to increase your sales. Teaching all your employees how to give 5 star quality service will set you far ahead of the competition down the street.
If you would, please take a second and think back on an example of mediocre customer service you have received. How did you feel about the person? The company they represented? Would you hire the person who waited on you to represent you? You probably didn't think anything of them or the company in one way or another.
Now think of an example of Top Quality customer service you have received. How did you feel about the person? The company they represented? Would you hire them again? If a friend told you he was looking for something similar, you probably would have raved about your experience at the establishment. You would want them to try there first. We all want to pass on good information about a great deal or service we have received.
How can you improve the customer service your company brings to your clients? Do you really listen to what your clients want? Do you do what it takes to make your clients happy? Are you and your staff polite and friendly regardless how your client acts?
The second item you should add to your arsenal for getting and keeping clients is to reward your loyal clients. Adding value to what you already offer is key. You can let them know "This month I want to let you know how much I appreciate your business so I am offering you_________ for free." Send a thank you card on the anniversary of when they signed up with you to let them know how much you appreciate their business. Basically, show your clients they are important to you. When someone is looking for a professional landscaper or gardener (or any specialty) they will remember and share this little extra thing you do with the person asking.
Third, if you see an inexpensive something extra you can do for your client that will make their life easier, do it and let your client know. Say, "I noticed you had (put situation here). So I went ahead and (did this) so you wouldn't have to worry about it." Do not accept payment. Tell them it was your pleasure to take care of it so they wouldn't have the headache and to prevent future problems. Your clients will appreciate you taking care of them.
This is just a small group of ideas you can use to set yourself apart from your competitors in your area. There are literally hundreds of books on Marketing. I chose to share two or three concepts that should have the most immediate impact on the gold of marketing, which are referrals. If you have a client who is releasing you from service because you are moving away, cutting back on expenses, or another reason completely unrelated to you, then ask them who might benefit from your services? Write down the names and numbers. If moving, ask if they would leave your card for the new tenant. Leave them 2-3 cards in either case. Since they probably feel bad about letting you go, you are giving them an opportunity to feel better about the situation. If you have used all the methods above, you have given them more than a few reasons to rave about you!