In Bad Times Prep the Soil for Spring

It was a good weekend working in the yard so please excuse the gardening lead in. The point to be made is that when times are tough it’s easy to get fixated on what is not going well or what’s wrong rather than taking actions that will lay the ground work for better times.
As you work to survive add one element to your plan, take time to focus on your customers, be involved with their business and show concern about what is going on with them. They know...that you know...that they are not buying right now, so when you continue to be there for them and add value, without a pending sale on the table, you will reap (sorry, there I go again) tremendous amounts goodwill and customer loyalty. Regardless of what market you are in there are some things you can do to prepare your customers for better times.
1. Be available to them….stay in touch and ask about their business. Talk to your customers about their plans and expectations for the coming months. We all have experienced the benefits of having people around us to help us think through difficult times. Also, if you were Johnny on the spot when times were good and they were buying but now, when the money is not flowing, you are nowhere to be found, your customer WILL notice your absence and they will remember that when it is time to reward a good vendor with an order.
2. Share ideas that you pick from others that may help them. Recently, a friend of mine told me about his landscaping company that gave him a great marketing idea. Sure it needed some tweaking but it helped him come up with a new idea to sell more products.
3. Help your customers’ to network. If you belong to some networking groups invite a customer to come with you to the next meeting and introduce him to others that may be able to help him.
4. Lastly, research tells us that 90% of businesses do not have a proactive customer experience process in place. Help your customers by helping them to get focused on customer experience. Share your experiences. At our company we give feedback to our customers and vendors. It’s a win-win to help customers be better customers (manage expectations) and vendors be better vendors.

We know that single digit improvements in employee retention and customer loyalty pay double digit dividends in total revenues. When the economy is down, use the down time to invest in your customer relationships let them know that you are a true and caring partner.