Being self employed we are all either champions of ourselves or victims of ourselves. Since taking control of my business 1 years ago I have admitedly been both.
I believed back then that all I had to do was advertise and I would get the clients. 15 years had changed alot, many seminars, educational sessions, customer experiences and feedback etc. But the biggest thing that has changed in that time is CHANGE itself.
We are in a new age, its no secret. Advertising is necessary but not primary. Social networking is necessary and at the front of the pack along with a STRONG web presence and of course, satisifed customer referrals.
My business has been 90+ referral for 5 years, but 95% was my ultimate goal. I heard at a seminar somewhere a few years back that 95% is actually 100%. The 5% residual is impossible to obtain if you do business period.
So here is how I did it: These of course are the finer points...after all the basics...like calling people back, answering emails, delivering what you promise etc.
1. Referral program for my existing client base. Yes a rewards program that is well thought out and executed to keep them coming over and over. For me its easy, we offer a heavily discounted next service based on the amount of referrals sent to us. We track in the office and send email updates to all that refer is on their progress and status.
2. Outstanding customer service. We dont go over the top and tacky, but we are right behind that fine line. What I mean to say is, be nice but professional. Be personable but not nosey. Be observant and select with conversations other than business.
3. CONSTANT CONTACT: This tool we should all have. We send monthly newsletters and updates and keeps us fresh in the minds of all that know us. We offer specials, new products and little ad ons.
4. Survey the client. When my job is done I reach out and ask the questions. What can I improve on? It works. People will tell you.
5. Being good at what we do, holding steadfast to all ideals and ALWAYS follow through.
It took me a long time to understand all these points. In a side note, I no longer advertise in yellow pages or other similar books. We track every call and know where every client comes from. Occasionally, we have a referred client who is a referral from a referral from a referral. Thats a good long line of happy people who are my best advertising.
It works in ALL businesses.