An unfortunate fact among many operators in the luxury ground transportation industry is they do not have a client retention strategy in place that personally connects to their existing clientele. Let’s be honest: Business owners and operators tend to focus on new sales through online marketing with tools like SEO, pay-per-click, and Facebook Ads.
Incredibly, companies are churning through and losing 10 to 15 percent of their clients annually, but they don’t know it because these stats aren’t being tracked. When was the last time you logged into your CRM to run a report on your top 100 existing clients? If it was in the past week, as it should be, did you find out the last time that they booked? If they have not booked in 90 days, six months, or even a year, it is time to reach out.
So, you may be asking, how do I reach out to them? When do I reach out to them? What do I say? These are all valid questions that need to be involved in the conceptualization of your client retention strategy. But before you begin, you need to take a step back and evaluate what technology you are using for CRM and how all of its features can be assets. Can you set up a sales funnel? Whether it is emails, text messages, or voicemails, you have many options.
Nothing supersedes the opportunity to make a personalized touchpoint. From a face-to-face lunch or having a glass of wine together, you must ensure that you initiate an in-person dialogue with your clients that thanks them for their business. Ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can to make sure that our clients are aware they’re appreciated and known?”
Here are a few steps I recommend as you work toward establishing your client retention strategy:
1. Speculate what your plan is going to be. With every new customer, I like to initiate what I call an indoctrination series. Whether it is on the corporate or retail side, what is the first thing that you want to do once their trip is complete, the ride receipt has been sent, and the client has paid you? When are you going to follow up?
Ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can to make sure that our clients are aware they’re appreciated and known?”Here’s a scenario: A brand-new client who is not under contract is using your services for a sedan airport transfer. After the trip, you, as the owner, or your general manager should call and thank that customer for using their service. If they are not available, leave a voicemail.
2. Send a follow-up email seven to 10 days after the service is completed. This email should be automated for all new corporate customers who fit the buyer profile. This email should not be your general newsletter. What goes into this email is extremely important. The only content that should be included is information that will benefit your customers. If you can position the services you offer as a value proposition to benefit your customers, you can sell it that way, but otherwise, it is not going to work.
3. Next, you need to be patient and wait three to four weeks before the next email goes out requesting a meeting to confirm that they are happy with their services.
4. If they do not respond to the last email, then you, a sales rep, or general manager should make another follow- up phone call.
You can accomplish this entire process within 30 days, and then repeat each quarter.
If you have a new client who’s doing a round trip with you every week, think about giving that client a free trip; however, don’t tell them in advance, as the element of surprise is what’s key here. Consider taking one of two approaches. You can give a thank-you card to the chauffeur to pass to the client, and let the client know that as the owner, you are covering that trip.
Ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can to make sure that our clients are aware they’re appreciated and known?”Or, send a ride receipt to the customer with the total zeroed out. You are going to print the receipt, circle it in red ink, and save it. Include a note, such as “Hey, Mr. Smith, thank you so much for your business. This is just a small token of my gratitude. We look forward to servicing you next week.”
Next, you are going to scan the invoice and attach it to an email from the owner, repeating that process and thanking them for their business. The benefit of today’s technology is that you can set up automated sequences, which could include text messages, emails, and even a link inside of a text message that will direct the recipient to a personalized video greeting.
The first communication you have needs to be personal, whether it’s a phone call or an in-person meeting. You’re going to have to decide what this will look like for your involvement and commitment.
You might send a personal greeting via video as the owner of the company. You must also determine what you’re comfortable with implementing as your ongoing client retention strategy.
I recently had a call with one of my coaching and consulting clients who told me that they only reach out to their customers twice a year: once in April and again at Christmas. So, what happens if your business is competing with someone else who’s more aggressive in their sales tactics? For example, I’m selling and spending 75-85 percent of my time on revenue-generating activities, which means I am outselling my competition and also retaining my clients. At some point, there’s going to be a guy like me who the client will meet between April and December. If I just happen to find them in May, I will be in their office every month. Further, I will join the associations or networks that they are members of to create my own opportunities to meet with them. If you don’t have a strategy in place, it’s going to be a lot easier for me to be able to take your clients.
Client retention strategy is something that’s easily forgotten, making it a leading reason that operators lose a lot of their customers. The goal in your client retention strategy should be to take a first-time customer, start a relationship with them, make them a happy client, and turn them into an ambassador. Over the next couple of months, you (and your team) should nurture that relationship, and after an extended period, if you’re good at it, you’ll find that it will become a friendship.
That’s the goal of a client retention strategy. The fact that once you have created a relationship and if you’re fortunate enough to manifest that relationship into a friendship, it is much easier to recover when you make a mistake. [CD1119]
Bill Faeth is the founder of Limo University. He can be reached at email@example.com.