Day 14–You’re Not Selling T-Shirts, You’re Building Relationships!
Another thing you may have heard before, but how many of you take the time to actually WORK on your customer relationships? Do you have what you would call a relationship with your customers? How do you build one? Here are some ideas:
1) Visit your larger customers and go to their place of business when it is time for reorders.
You can’t just expect that your big customers will always reorder from you every year. I remember a soccer league in California that ordered over $200,000 of custom printed soccer uniforms annually. Their usual supplier-decorator was only a 40 minute drive from league headquarters but the supplier never took the time to pay the purchaser a visit, they just expected the business every year. Then one year, the league’s business went to a company in Oregon. Why? Because the Oregon company took the time to fly someone down for a face to face visit. The rep bought the buying team pizza and signed the deal. I know you can’t buy a free lunch for all your customers, but take some time to see what you can do to show your customers a little appreciation now and then.
2) Customer Appreciation Day
One way to do this would be having an annual customer appreciation day where you invite all your customers into the store for a preview of new styles and ideas, serve them hot dogs or pizza and offer them a 10% discount for ordering on that same day. Whatever works for you. If you don’t want to offer a discount, think of something else that will get them to order on the spot, like a free cap for each coach or whatever you can afford to do.
3) Give Back!
As an apparel decorating specialist, you are probably approached by many teams and leagues to be a sponsor…because they want free shirts! You can’t outfit everyone for free, so you will have to pick and choose those that you support in this manner. But consider offering everyone the chance to raise money when they order shirts from you. You can agree to give back a percentage of the sales to support the kids, schools, whatever the project may be, a new library or community swimming pool.
4) Relationship not going well? Own it!
Resolve your problems professionally and by communicating. If you are behind 1 day in delivery, don’t put off your customer by not telling them. Be courteous and call them – customers hate surprises and will have more confidence in your business if you keep them updated. Just like in your personal relationships, open and clear communication is always appreciate.
What do you do to build customer relationships? I’d like to hear about it. Please comment!