To help make your business grow, create a retention plan and keep your customers coming back for more! One of the biggest mistakes we can make as business owners is to constantly be looking for new customers and not to focus on the ones we already have. So much attention is always put on advertising to get the word out about our business, that it is easy to take the focus away from our current customers. Jeffrey Gitomer, who has written many great books on customer loyalty, says that most companies spend 80% of their advertising budget on getting new customers and only 20% on their current ones. He suggests that it would be wiser to reverse this and spend more on keeping who you have instead of always trying to get new. It is, after all ,easier to keep someone coming back for more once they have bought from you than it is to get someone new to try you out. Spending money to get new leads is harder to do and can be more costly. If you could dedicate some, or most of your marketing dollars, to get your current customers to spend more with you, you could increase your income significantly without ever getting one new student.

To help make your business grow, create a retention plan and keep your customers coming back for more! One of the biggest mistakes we can make as business owners is to constantly be looking for new customers and not to focus on the ones we already have. So much attention is always put on advertising to get the word out about our business, that it is easy to take the focus away from our current customers. Jeffrey Gitomer, who has written many great books on customer loyalty, says that most companies spend 80% of their advertising budget on getting new customers and only 20% on their current ones. He suggests that it would be wiser to reverse this and spend more on keeping who you have instead of always trying to get new. It is, after all ,easier to keep someone coming back for more once they have bought from you than it is to get someone new to try you out. Spending money to get new leads is harder to do and can be more costly. If you could dedicate some, or most of your marketing dollars, to get your current customers to spend more with you, you could increase your income significantly without ever getting one new student.

Over the years we have reevaluated how we spend our money and energy on our current clients and found that we needed to make some changes. We were under the belief that if we were teaching their child and they were receiving a great dance education that it would be enough. The fact is, most parents really don't know the difference from good or bad training. We also needed to find moments to reconnect with the parents throughout the year so that they would be more in tune with us and we would know them better. We have added more WOW moments for our customers and it has really paid off. Adding customer appreciation events, giving costumes out in garment bags with our logo on them, calling up our customers and asking them how their child is enjoying their classes are some of the ways that we have found to help us build customer loyalty. Any time or moment where you can create that WOW response will be where you build that customer loyalty and that will lead to retention and referrals.

Let's say that you currently have 200 students and you retain 150 of them. If these customers really love what you do and you can make them understand what benefits their child will receive by taking more classes, you could end up having the equivalent of triple to quadruple the 150 students that you currently have. This does not have to be a hard sell because most parents want the best for their child and they will be eager for you to recommend which additional classes their child can take. Best of all, you will be marketing to a group of people who you know have a major interest in what you are selling. So it makes sense that you will get more "bang" for the buck.

 At this time of the year it is very important to build momentum for your fall registration. Through a series of e-mails, letters and phone calls, by asking a lot of questions of your clients. Be on a fact finding mission make sure to take notes and find out what your people like and what they do not like. The fact that you have taken the time to ask your customers how they are doing and how their child is enjoying your studio will have an immediate impact on them. Not all of what they say will be warm and fuzzy but even when something bad is brought forward you will be glad to have a heads up. If something is not working for your clients you will want to know. Then you can proceed to fix it.

The time, energy and funds spent to make your clients feel like you value them, their child and their business will go a long way to building customer loyalty. Here is a short list of "Actions" I would recommend that you take over the next few months.

1. Send an email to your clients saying "thank you" for their business and letting them know that your fall schedule will be out soon.

2. Send out a student recommendation sheet that will give them recommendations for fall classes. Make sure to add additional classes to the ones they are already taking.

3. Call all of your customers! I know this is very time consuming but it will create a BIG WOW factor. This will be along the lines of a chat on how they are doing and how their child is enjoying the studio.

4. Find some way to create a WOW customer appreciation event at your studio. Some ideas are: ice cream social, barbecue, free master classes or any other idea you can come up with. Just create one and invite the whole school and also invite any friends they want to bring.

5. Create a sense of urgency. Have a pre registration for your current customers. Let them know through a mailing or email that they will get first preference on the classes before they fill up.

Ok, now that you have their attention, make sure that you answer your phone and that you are available or that you will call them back to answer questions as soon as possible. They will want your advice as to how many classes their child should take. I also recommend that you have your current people sign up for you fall classes in May or June. Right before or after your showcase or recital is a hot period. Check out this month's article "Priority Registration" for more details on this subject. The goal here is to let your current customers know that you value them, that they are the most important people to you, and use every chance you get to say "thank you"!