Smart small business owners know how important it is to do everything they can to engage and retain customers.
For starters, it is considerably cheaper to sell to an existing customer than a new one—so, in order to enjoy higher profitability, you first need to cultivate enduring relationships with at least some customers. Over time, as those relationships develop further, loyal customers emerge. Though they may only account for 15% of your base, these folks can be responsible for as much as 70% of your revenue—which should make developing loyal customers a top priority for all small businesses.
One way to increase the chances you create loyal customers is by showing them your appreciation on a regular basis.
When we think about customer appreciation, however, we often think about the world of retail. It’s perhaps easiest for retail business owners to show customer appreciation because customers are always trickling in and out of their stores.
How, then, are you supposed to show customer appreciation when you don’t have the luxury of seeing your customers at regular intervals?
For example, let’s say you run a home services company (such as a painting business or a landscaping company). Just because it may be a little bit trickier to figure out how to show your customers you appreciate their business doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven customer appreciation ideas home service companies can leverage to increase loyalty and engagement—boosting cash flow and strengthening the bottom line.
1. Host a Customer Appreciation Day each year
What better way is there to show your customers how much you appreciate their business than by renting out a restaurant or some other venue and hosting a Customer Appreciation Day event?
It may set you back a few hundred dollars, but such an event—held once a year—will almost certainly be a good time.
As an added bonus, your customers will be able to network with one another—or at least meet some new folks that live where they do. If you tend to serve customers in a particular industry, or if you notice another common thread connecting your customers, that’s a great reason to bring them together.
2. Offer cash rewards for word-of-mouth referrals
As a landscaper or the owner of a painting business, you’ve almost certainly gotten some word-of-mouth referrals over the years. Locking down new customers without having to market to them—what’s not to like?
Show your customers how much you appreciate them by launching an incentivized referral program. For example, you might offer existing customers $50 or $100 per successful referral. You could even offer that incentive in the form of credit for future services.
Not only will your customers appreciate the gesture—it’s not like you get referral bonuses from the restaurant you recommend to your buddies—the incentive may encourage them to talk about your business with new people, helping you unlock significant new revenue streams.
3. Get old school and use their mailbox
In the age of emails, handwritten notes are increasingly rare. That’s why we do receive something personal in the mail, it can make a big impression.
While writing handwritten notes to all of your customers may certainly be a chore, doing it once a year—like during the holiday season—will show them that you appreciate their business and aren’t taking them for granted.
You may have to give up a weekend day or several weekday nights to write the notes, but your customers will enjoy the gesture.
If you have more money to spare than time, you can also try one of the many affordable, fast, online services that help you outsource handwriting those notes, too: Thankbot, Handwrytten, MailLift, and Felt are a few options to try.
4. Give simple gifts
One of the easiest ways to show your customers you appreciate them is by giving them simple gifts.
You might think that you’d have to break the bank to give presents to all of your customers. Research, however, suggests that givers (i.e., you) are the ones that care about the price of gifts. Receivers (i.e., your customers), on the other hand, are appreciative of all gifts, large and small, because of the thoughtfulness the gifts represent.
Not sure what to give or where to start? There are services to help with that, too! For gifts that are fun and modern, Greetabl helps gift givers create and send small, personalized boxes that are delightful to open, while Token.ai recommends gifts anywhere up to $400 based on the occasion and recipient.
5. Teach your customers a skill relevant to your business
Who doesn’t like learning new things? When a physical gift doesn’t seem right, think about giving something more long-lasting, like a new skill.
Demonstrate customer appreciation by teaching your clients something they can really use. You can do that either by hosting a workshop or posting how-to videos on social media. Teaching relevant skills and documenting your knowledge is also a worthwhile marketing investment that helps build your online reputation as an expert in your field.
For example, if you own a painting company, you might demonstrate the “dragging” technique to show customers one way they could paint an interior room. Similarly, a landscaper could create videos offering tips on how to choose grasses, plants, and flowers for their customers’ yards.
Contrary to what some may think, teaching your customers how to do a few things won’t make them less likely to hire you. Instead, it is far more likely to reinforce their trust in your expertise.
It’s an simple way to show that you understand your relationship with your customers doesn’t end once money changes hands.
6. Launch a loyalty program
Show your customers how much you value their business by giving them some services free of charge after they’ve demonstrated their loyalty.
For example, you can offer to mow your customers’ lawns for free after they’ve paid for 10 cuts.
It may be a bit tricky to figure out a loyalty program for your painting company, but it can still be done. Let’s say a landlord who owns several properties contracts your business to touch up the exteriors of a number of buildings. Offer to paint an additional building (within reason) or at least give them a discount on the next job after you’ve painted five or so properties for them.
7. Promote your customers’ businesses on social media
Your painting business or landscape company probably has its own social media presence. (If it doesn’t, what are you waiting for?)
Use social media to promote your customers’ own businesses to demonstrate appreciation. It’s an easy way to give back and boost your clients’ companies for free. As small business owners know too well, it doesn’t get much better than free publicity, and if you give them a shout out, they are more likely to return the favor.
Getting your business to the next level starts with ensuring your customers know how much you appreciate their business. That’s the ticket to creating an army of loyal customers who help generate most of your revenue and won’t hesitate to evangelize on behalf of your small business whenever the chance arises.