In any business, existing customers are always more profitable than new ones. The same is true for freelancers. If you want to pump up your income, you’ll find it easier to get more business from your existing clients first, rather than looking for new clients. So, you should constantly be working to turn existing clients into repeat clients.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to persuade previous clients to hire you again. If you’ve been doing your job properly, they already know, like and trust you.
On the other hand, it takes much more work to find new prospective clients. And then, after you find them, you need to more aggressively “sell” your services to them.
How Well Are You Doing?
The number of repeat clients you have is a good gauge for how well you’re doing your work. Do most of your clients come back, or do you find yourself scrambling to find new clients most of the time?
If it’s the latter, then you may be doing something wrong. Stop and think:
- Do you finish your tasks on time?
- Is your work always your absolute best?
- Do you show professionalism and courtesy in your client communication?
7 Tips to Increase Repeat Business
If you want to increase your repeat business, check out these seven tips to keep your clients coming back for more:
- Offer packages for recurring work.
It may seem obvious, but if you only offer one-off services then your clients won’t have a reason to hire you again. For example, say you design websites and that’s the only thing you do. Not a lot of people need a website design all the time. So, the most that a single client could hire you might be once a year.
Instead, think of other design needs that your ideal client has. What are the graphic design requirements of a website owner? Email template design? Matching business cards? Headers for special landing pages?
- Give your best clients special treatment.
Always treat your best clients better than your prospects or new clients.
First of all, who are your best clients? They’re the ones who have brought you the most amount of business, of course. Also, think of those who’ve referred you to new clients.
“Special treatment” may include discounted rates or unannounced gifts (particularly digital products). You can also offer exclusive services for them, something that isn’t even listed on your professional website. Always make time in your schedule for last-minute requirements from existing clients.
- Revive “zombie clients.”
Haven’t heard from a past client for some time? Give them a gentle nudge. It’s a good idea is to send them an email or snail mail to update them on your work–along with a discount coupon.
- Mark important dates.
Send existing clients a birthday card (a physical card not an e-card, for heaven’s sake!) or another gift. While you’re at it, why not include a discount coupon or one of your paid products for free. Or, you could do something similar on the anniversary of when you first worked together (either the six-month or one-year mark).
I know, it takes work to keep track of these things. But, this detail is what makes you stand out from your competition. You know what else can distinguish you from your competition? Handwritten notes. There’s nothing like it.
- Foster a feeling of belonging in an exclusive club.
Create an email list for existing clients (ask their permission first or have them confirm their subscription) so you send them helpful tips without expecting anything in return.
Another way to achieve this sense of belonging is by creating a special information package for clients when they engage your services. Depending on what services you offer, it could be a guide, list of tips, anything that will help your clients make the most of your services.
If you’re particularly creative, you can even come up with a special name for your clients.
- Create promos throughout the year.
Notice how traditional businesses have sales several times a year? You can do the same, depending on your needs. You could celebrate your own birthday or wedding anniversary by giving existing clients a special discount coupon.
Or, do this on any special holiday. I highly recommend Thanksgiving, because everyone is usually too distracted at Christmas time. Besides, you’ll be getting a head start on those who wait until the holidays to have a special promo. It’s your way of saying “Thank you” to your clients.
If you don’t want to keep discounting your services, invite other freelancers (who offer different services that complement yours) to provide discounted rates to your clients. Put together a discount coupon book and send it to your clients as a gift.
Also, take the time to create a digital product and give it away to clients–but sell it to everybody else.
- Ask for referrals.
I’ve talked about referrals before: having a referral system in place can be good for your business. What I didn’t say before was that there’s another reason why this is so. Aside from bringing you new clients, having an existing client refer a prospect to you increases her loyalty to you.
It’s kind of sneaky, but it works. You see, by vouching for you, your current client is saying “I stand by this person 100%.” Therefore, it’ll be difficult for him–almost impossible–to hire somebody else when he needs your services again.
You can offer incentives in exchange for referrals, such as a discount on a future project or an outright commission.
If you’d rather not offer an incentive (some clients don’t want one, either, because it makes them feel like they’re selling to their friends), you can simply give them discount coupons they can send to their friends and associates. It will make them look good and they’ll feel good as well because they’ve been helpful.
If you don’t offer an incentive, always send the referrer a simple, but thoughtful, gift with a nice handwritten note. As a general rule in life, it’s always worthwhile to show your appreciation to people who have treated you well.
If you will notice, there’s a common theme running through these tips. They’re all about making your clients feel special, appreciated and loved. So always ask yourself, “What can I do to show my clients how much I value them?”
Share Your Tips
How do you appreciate your clients and get repeat business? Post your ideas below, so we can all benefit.
Image by carinaice