Past Customers: An Overlooked Resource for Your Small Business Tegan Arnold When you own a small business, you have to utilize every tool available to maximize your success. So why not leverage an existing resource? Past customers can be a gold mine of repeat business. While every business needs new customers to survive, it is expensive to acquire them. Your easiest and most predictable revenue source is from customers familiar with your business and products. Plus, repeat customers spend about 67% more than new ones. Here are ways to reach out to existing clients to get them to do just that: Offer A Bonus Put some thought into what your customers are buying and the additional needs those purchases trigger. For instance, if you sell printers, your customers are going to need ink to go with it. Stocking those complementary items can expand your gross margins. Incentives can turn one client into multiple clients. Reward customers for recommending you to their own clients or other companies they partner with by offering discounts or credits. This can strengthen your relationship with customers while generating new clients without a time or money investment. Keep in Touch Haven’t heard from a major customer in a while? Give them a call, drop them a note or, if you’re trying to reach a large number of customers, use automated marketing to contact them multiple ways, such as email and social media. Automated marketing allows you to schedule emails, automate social media postings, track results and more, all in less time and with less effort. Don’t use this method to blatantly sell to clients you haven’t heard from in a while but let them know you have gotten new inventory in or are trying a new product line. Even your best clients aren’t aware of all the products and services you offer. Remind them by sending out a postcard, email, Facebook or other social media post occasionally. Once again, automated marketing can help you reach a wide audience across several platforms to maximize more personalized outreach. Use this opportunity to remind your clients ways you can make their life easier by cross-selling or upselling relevant products that are in line with their purchase history. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Incentives can also encourage repeat business, foster relationships and increase sales. It doesn’t have to be cash. Thinking of creative perks for customers based on their industries and interests will differentiate you from your competitors. For instance, if a past customer travels frequently, a non-traditional incentive such as an airline voucher is a great way to show them that you’re paying attention to their needs. Access to networking events or industry conferences that help with professional development are also good, as well as providing free consulting to a company that has given you repeat business. Put your reputation on the line by using performance-based contracts with customers who know you, and whom you know. Tell your clients that if you can’t deliver, they don’t pay. And when you do deliver, ask for a percentage of the gain. The client has nothing to lose and you win if they do. Don’t be shy; reach out to a past customer today. Invest in developing new business as well, but keep in mind that former customers can be your secret to sales growth.