A while ago I arrived at the hair salon that I had been going to for years. After a quick shampoo, I was directed to the chair of my stylist – who was also the salon owner. He wasn’t nowhere in sight. A few minutes later I spotted him behind the front desk handling a business matter. Since he looked busy, I got up and strolled through the salon looking for a magazine. I proceeded to wait in his chair with wet hair until I completed the entire magazine. Just then my stylist rushed over and began cutting my hair. As he finished trimming the hair on one side of my head, he was called away again. He excused himself and scurried off. I then got myself a glass of water and walked by the front desk to check on an ETA of my missing stylist. Since no one even acknowledged my lingering, I finished my water and grabbed a hairdryer. I proceeded to dry and style my almost dry hair. My stylist grabbed me as I was walking out of the salon. He apologized for being so busy and explained that he would finish my haircut as he couldn’t afford me walking around town representing his salon with a half completed haircut.
How interesting that he realized that his customer represented him every day as the walk around town. However, he failed to realize the importance or cost of losing one of those walking billboards. As I sat in traffic thinking of creative ways to hide my new “half-do”, I thought about my previous experiences at that salon. Was I always treated so poorly? Of course, not. Previously, I was warmly greeted with a glass of wine upon arrival. I received a relaxing head massage during my shampoo and my stylist was always ready and waiting to perform an uninterrupted haircut and style. Some would say the “courting/dating phase” was over. After all, I had been a consistent customer for several years. I would contend that you should always be courting your best customers! Your long-standing client relationships are the source of many referrals for new business, they are at the top of your reference list and your long-standing relationship with them is how you demonstrate stability in the marketplace. If that isn’t enough reason, look at the acquisition cost of some of your newest clients. That sticker shock will have you sending hand written thank you notes to each of your existing clients today!
But this isn’t just about the importance of those long-standing relationships, but I also want to pose the question to you about how you choose to maintain them. A simple way is to treat your existing clients as you do your new clients. It may be as simple as a glass of wine and giving them your undivided attention. That is for you to figure out, but I can tell you. Investing in these relationship will pay untold dividends. I’d love to hear some of the creative ways you’ve “courted” your best customers. Let me know!