5 Ways Architects Can Exceed Expectations to Win Repeat Clients
The architect-client relationship is the heart of any successful architectural business. So, naturally, you’ll want to acquire as many clients as you can to keep your firm afloat. However, there’s also value in maintaining those client-relationships and potentially exciting repeat business from previous clients instead of focusing on new clients. Here, we’ll break down top reasons to encourage repeat business from clients, as well as strategies that will make them want to come back again.
What is a repeat client?
Though it may feel obvious to some, let’s take a moment to define what we mean by repeat client. A repeat client is a client you have performed a project with before, and who has decided to seek your services for additional projects. Typically, you can consider a client a repeat client after they have sought two or more projects from your firm.
Why are they better and more profitable than new clients?
What exactly makes a repeat client more desirable. After all, business is business, and what matters most is getting projects in the first place. Right? Does it really matter if the client is returning, or is a brand new client who is speaking to you for the first time?
Well, actually, yes.
Statistics consistently show that repeat clients can account for more of a firm's profits and success than landing a continuous cycle of new clients. For instance, a study showed that as much as 65 percent of a company’s business comes from repeat clients, and as much as 80 percent of a firm’s profits will come from about 20 percent of your existing clients.
Consider how you feel when you find a restaurant or business that you really like? How likely are you to go back to that restaurant or business in the future? Chances are pretty high that you will. Once a client works with you and likes the type of work you do, statistics show that they will want to seek your services again.
The benefit of repeat clients goes beyond simply getting more projects out of them. In fact, a study showed that repeat clients referred 50 percent more clients than new or one-time clients. If a client is coming back to your firm with more projects, that means they’re happy with the work you're doing. As such, they are far more likely to tell others about your business and recommend it to their friends and family.
And with more repeat clients, you’ll build up brand loyalty, which only increases the amount of referrals you could get out of a repeat client. According to one study, clients who are emotionally invested in your brand have a 306 percent higher customer lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71 percent!
How to turn clients into repeat clients
So, what exactly does it take to turn a new client into a client who wants to continue engaging with your firm? A big part of it is to make your firm enticing to work with in the first place. This can manifest itself in several ways, which we’ll break down below.
Good customer service can spell the difference between a new client and a one-time client. If a client finds interacting with your business unpleasant or inconvenient, not only will they look elsewhere, but they’ll also advise others to do the same. Strive to make it easy to get in contact with your firm by creating and maintaining a website and social media.
Be timely in your communications with clients, to ensure they don’t feel they are being left out of the loop or are of little consequence to your business. The more your client feels appreciated, the more likely they’ll want to come back.
You can also offer your clients a convenient way to pay for your services with online payment solutions. The best online payment solutions allow you to build custom secure payment pages for your clients where they can pay by credit card, debit card, or eCheck from the convenience of your website.
If there’s any aspect of your business you can automate, it may be worth considering. Perhaps this means offering your clients a pre-screen questionnaire so that they can present their project and their level of experience to you before you even consider their proposal. Or, automation may mean providing your potential clients with a calendar system on your website to allow them to pick a date to speak with you about a project.
This could even apply to your billing process, by implementing scheduled payments into your project timeline to automatically charge your client’s payment information when a milestone is satisfactorily reached.
What’s more enticing than paying less than full price for a service? Consider giving repeat clients a special offer of some kind after coming back to you for another project. This could be a lower price on their next project or a waived fee on an aspect of your business. You could even bundle these offers into a loyalty program where repeat clients get exclusive offers on their next project, or gain bonuses for referrals (both for the new client and referring client).
Perhaps the most important step to take to improve your business is to listen to your client’s feedback after a project is done. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they loved about your work, as well as what aspects of your process could be improved upon. This could come in the form of a post-project questionnaire or even a review on Yelp or Google.
Listen carefully to this feedback and be on the lookout for common criticisms, if any. These are the areas you should strive to improve as quickly and effectively as possible.
Staying in touch with a client after a project is done is a great way to not only show them you care, but keep your business at the top of their minds when they consider their next project. One easy and cost-effective way to accomplish this is by an email marketing campaign. You could use these to share some of your latest work, or wish them well during the holiday season.
You could even combine efforts and use email marketing in conjunction with a discount program, where repeat clients are emailed discounts or special offers.
When to focus on client retention
Of course, focusing entirely on repeat clients for the entire lifespan of your business is not always the most effective strategy. There are usually key moments where client retention is your best effort, and moments where acquiring new business would be a better direction. Let’s look at three examples below of when a focus on client retention would be great, or not so great.
The launch of your business
If you’ve just kicked off your business, your focus should be entirely on client acquisition rather than retention. Take steps to increase growth and awareness of your brand. That said, this is also a great time to plant the seeds for retention later, as new clients now could become repeat clients later.
Once your firm starts completing projects, you can begin to encourage repeat business. It may be best to start mildly, as you don’t want to scare off the clients you just worked hard for. Keep it light and simple—try out an email marketing campaign where you can offer a discount to a previous client for their next project.
At this stage, you’ve had several projects under your belt and a quite a few clients you’ve worked with. This is an excellent time to start implementing bigger retention strategies, such as loyalty programs or referral bonuses when previous clients bring you projects.
Every business needs customers to thrive, so it's critical to take steps to make these customers want to come back. With the right combination of excellent work, and a dedication to client experience and satisfaction, you can build a stable of regular clients who will be more than happy to continue contacting your firm for all of their projects.
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