Baby Come Back! 3 Steps to Bringing Back Former Clients

It has happened to every business owner.  For one reason or another, a client stops working with you.  For a solo entrepreneur who has a relatively small client base, it can be painful.  One client can be a huge percentage of your business when you are a small business owner.  It may also feel a little personal because you know each client on a personal basis when you own your own business.

The good news is that if a person buys from you once, they are more likely to buy from you again.  It is much easier to sell to a former client who has already had the experience of working with you than it is to gain the trust of a brand new prospect.  It is important to have a systematic approach to your relationships with former clients to encourage them to come back and work with you again.

Here are 3 steps you can take to bring back former clients.

  1. End Well
  2. Ongoing Outreach
  3. Invite Them Back

The first step is to end the working relationship well.  The client may stop working with you simply because it is the end of the project, or they may not give a reason for ending their contract with you.  No matter what, this is a good time to get some feedback.  This could be as simple as an informal phone conversation, or it could entail a more formal survey. Find out the reason the client is leaving.  Is it budget constraints or was there a mistake made that you need to fix?

If you find that the client is leaving due to problems with your business, you have the opportunity to apologize and fix the problem.  Doing so may be enough to keep the client with you.  If there was no fault on the part of your business and the client is leaving for reasons outside of your control, respect their decision.  For every client that leaves, you can send a final note or card thanking them for their business and encouraging them to return in the future.

The next thing you can do is to have ongoing outreach with your former clients.  They may already be on an email newsletter list, but a better way to keep in touch is through a quarterly snail mail list.  Mailing things to them on a regular basis is a gentle way of reminding them that you are still there and available for business.  If you don’t remember them consistently, don’t expect them to remember you when they are ready to hire again.

Lastly, you can invite former clients back.  This might be through a personal phone call letting them know you enjoyed working with them in the past and you have a current opening.  It could also be a special direct mail campaign, encouraging past clients to come back.  (Think of the coupons you get in the mail when you haven’t been in to get your hair cut in a while.)

 

You may already have a plan in place for welcoming new clients.  Make sure you also have a plan in place for saying goodbye and keeping in touch with former clients.  Reactivating former clients is a quick and easy way to boost your income.  If you need a way to keep in touch with former clients, contact us.  We can help.

 

 

 

This post is part of the Brilliant Business Girlfriend Blog Carnival featuring advice for women entrepreneurs in support of National Entrepreneurship Week.

 

 

Have you ever lost a client?  Have you ever had a former client come back?  What do you do to be proactive with former clients?

Comments

  1. So true, Deb!

    As a small business owner, the loss of one client can seriously impact your bottom line and your sense of business acumen. Yes, for many reasons it’s important to find out if it’s a mistake your business made or has nothing to do with you or your business. Stuff happens.

    Thanks for sharing the importance of #3, invite them back. I know I’ve simply taken a break from supporting a business only to come back in the future after experiencing not-so-great service from a competitor. Or I just wanted to “look around” a bit, see what’s out there to compare.

    • Gail,
      I think there are some industries that see a lot of customers who go to the competition for a introductory offer. If your business goes above and beyond, they will see the difference and come back.

  2. Great article! I am totally into the idea of sending snail mail. I write at least 5 cards a week to send out to people – those that have sent me referrals, those that have sent me a testimonial, and those that I just want to keep in touch with. Everyone loves getting handwritten mail these days, and a postage stamp is “pretty cheap” on the marketing scale!

    • Kudos to you, Shannon, for being one of the few who sends handwritten cards. I am certain it makes you stand out and keeps you “top of mind” with the people who receive them.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Baby Come Back! 3 Steps to Bringing Back Former Clients: Someone who has done business with you is more likely to buy from you again. If you aren’t keeping in touch with former clients, you are missing a huge opportunity. Being proactive with former clients increases the odds that they will do business with you again. Reactivation is a quicker way to make more cash than wooing brand new clients. […]

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