July 18, 2007

The Business-Boosting Technique that Most Designers Ignore

There is an easy way to get more repeat business and referrals, and most designers ignore it. It is known as follow-up.

Follow-up is simply...well, following up. In other words - staying in touch with potential clients, current clients, and past clients. 80% of design business is lost due to lack of follow-up!

When to follow up:

- After a consultation where the prospect did not purchase from you
When a sale is not made at the initial consultation, most designers assume the sale is lost and move on. But successful designers spend time and energy following up with these prospects.

- After a consultation where you made a sale
You gain trust and rapport by keeping in contact with your present customers while their project is being completed. Creating this trusted relationship will lead to repeat business and referrals.

- After the final delivery or installation
What a huge waste to ignore the potential of new business from past clients. Previous customers are more likely to buy from you than strangers, and studies show that they spend an average of 63% more!

How to follow up:

There are many ways to keep in contact with a prospect or client, and you can get as creative as you'd like. But remember that the easier it is, and the more automated you make it, the more likely you will continue to use it.

Here are a few of my favorite - and most effective - follow-up techniques:

- Emailing prospects

A week after your consultation, email the prospect and let them know that you are still available if they want to move forward. Tell them that you understand how busy life gets. You know that beautifying a home often gets pushed lower in daily priorites, but you are willing to help ease the stress whenever they are ready to get started.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that many of the sales that I thought were lost were just busy people getting caught up in their daily stuff. My emails remind them about the design project (and they are grateful for the reminder!), and they often email back or call me right away.

- Calling past clients

I make it a priority to call 5 past clients each week. I do not call to sell anything (that makes me uncomfortable). I call to update my referral list or to set up a time to take photos of their home. Many of these clients tell me that they are glad I called - they had been meaning to call me about another design project but never got around to it. Since we are now talking, we set up a consultation.

- "Quality Control" calls

One month after you complete a design project, call your client to make sure they are getting all the benefits that they should. Make sure they are using the products correctly, see if everything is working properly, and ask if they need a quick steaming or cleaning. It's a simple technique (that is often overlooked) that yields amazing results.

- Email Newsletters

My favorite way to stay in touch with clients, prospects, family, and friends is through email newsletters. They are a continuous way to remind people about what you do, increase your expert status, and keep you at the top of thier minds. Email Newsletters tripled my business! (See my story and get more info)

Don't forget to follow up!

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