Date Your Customers to Keep Them Loyal!

Remember when you were first dating? To get to know the other person, you spent lots of time talking, having fun, and doing things together. After the date, you would call and talk for hours, send them flowers, and keep in touch on a regular basis. Building relationships take commitment, time, and constant contact. When you don’t see each other or stay in touch, the relationship withers away and vanishes over time.
Building loyal customer relationships works the same way. Think of it as dating. Without phone calls, gifts, thank you cards, or time together, there is no relationship. The best loyal customer relationships are built over time in what I call ‘relationship-building sessions.’ These are times together with a customer having fun, eating a meal, attending a ballgame, playing golf, or doing something enjoyable together. This is how you date your customer to build loyalty.
Customers want to do more business with friends and people they trust and really know. Businesses build trust with their customers by first doing a good job for them, and second by getting to know them in a personal way. Just like dating! Look at your calendar. How much time do you spend dating your customers to build loyalty? Once you realize you are in the relationship-building business, your company will grow and make more money doing business with loyal customers.
loyal.jpg6 Steps to Build Loyal Customer Relationships
1. Make Customers Your Priority!
Spend at least thirty-three percent of your time with customers in face-to-face relationship-building sessions. This includes meals, sporting events, industry meetings, and sitting on boards of community organizations. Put customer time into your calendar. Make it a priority. I try to schedule at least three meals plus one golf game with current or potential customers every week. The only way to build customer relationships is in a relaxed setting where you can really get to know the person.
2. Help Customers!
People want to help those who help them. Look for ways to help your customer make more money. Become a business partner with them. Before I meet with customers, I try to identify how I can help them be successful. I come prepared to share a business tip or trick that will help their bottom line. Send something to help your customers make a profit at least four times a year. Send business articles, books, tapes, technical specification updates from your suppliers, magazine subscriptions, photos of jobsite challenges, new code updates, changes in the law, or industry studies from your association. When you send things to help your customers, you reinforce your relationship with them. Include a little handwritten note, like: “I thought this would help your business. It helped me provide better customer service.”
3. Constant Customer Contact! 
Think how you cultivate personal relationships and build true friendships. Trusting relationships are built over time with lots of one-on-one contact, conversations, experiences, and fun. In business, you get distracted with constant pressure of making a profit and getting projects built. It isn’t natural to stop and take time required to build deep customer relationships. So you continue bidding lots of jobs and selling low price. This won’t generate above industry average net profit. 

Put your customer relationships first by tracking business relationships. Make a list of all your customers from the last three years. Put them into one of the categories labeled: loy