How to Increase Sales: How to Get Bookings and Orders From Past Customers
Growing Customer Sales, Getting Repeat Business and Questions About Creating Business Growth Are Common Questions From Well Established Businesses and Entrepreneurs.
When we are asked to help a business grow fast we normally start by looking at ways to get existing or past customers to buy again. We have at least Ten Ways to Generate Repeat Business and we’ll explain a few of them below.
Plus we’ll provide some very specific business generation advice for specific business types.
Repeat Bookings in the Hospitality Sector
Hotels, B&Bs, Guest Houses, Farmhouse B&B and Motels often ask how to boost bookings or get repeat business. We tell them it is easier than they might think.
For example, one of the hotels we work with sends out an email campaign to previous guests three times a year. They start with an email to warn that a campaign is pending, that there is a limit to the number of rooms available and that all bookings must be made between given dates (they normally allow 7-10 days). Prices are slightly better than normal and all rooms are the same price. In other words you can get a suite for the same price as a room .. but it is first come first serve. This really makes the hotel’s phone ring at launch time. Once the sales period has been live for a few days they often send a second email to say they have sold xxx rooms and to book fast if you want to take advantage of the offer.
Then, if any rooms are left, they send a similar offer to those that have previously enquired about rooms but never booked. Often someone that enquired years before becomes a new guest due to this simple email offer that costs nothing to send.
This hotel now gets the majority of its annual bookings via this method. They can afford to discount rooms because all bookings are direct, and no commission is paid to the Online Travel Agents (OTAs) such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, Trivago etc. When you can save 15+% in commission fees it’s quite easy to offer the guest a discount ands still make more profit than you would via a normal OTA booking.
How Trainers and Colleges Get Repeat Sales
One of our clients owned a private training provider business. She was turning over around £200k when she asked us how to increase sales.
Our advice was simple. It consisted of one sentence and brought in around £150, in less than a week.
Let me explain what that sentence is in a minute. But first let me explain why repeat business is the best business.
Five Reasons Why Repeat Business is Better than New Customers
- Repeat customers already know you, they’ve bought before and and know your quality standards.
- Repeat Customers take less time to say yes, and often spend much more than new customers
- Repeat customers cost little to convert into buyers. New customers can cost a small fortune to become first time buyers.
- Repeat customers refer more business than new customers.
- Repeat customers are more profitable. Not only do they cost much less to start buying again, they tend to spend more. Some
people claim that a repeat customer generates at least 75% more profit than a new customer (but we think that depends on thetype of business you run).
Investing in repeat business makes a lot of sense.
How to Get Repeat Business with One Sentence
This was our one sentence advice for the training provider we mentioned above.
Phone all your past customers and ask them to book again.
It works like this. Past customers already know you and have experienced your service levels. If you simply phone them and ask them a couple of simple questions you very frequently get more business .. often without actually asking them for it.
We suggested they asked things like …
- Is the person we trained still with you?
- Do they need a refresher course?
- Do you have another staff that that need the same course .. or a similar one?
There are many other questions you could go into about any new technology they have, new legislation they need to keep abreast of and much more. But I’m sure you get the idea. All you are doing is starting a dialogue.
In many cases, once you have an answer, you can simply ask if they would like to book a place for them or their staff.
Automating the Repeat Business Process
So many of your competitors forget the basics. For example courses like Food Hygiene, First Aid etc all require refresher courses from time to time.
And the company that booked a Christmas event last year is likely to need one again this year.
This makes life even easier. Simply set up an automated email to send to them at an appropriate time. Autoresponders are systems that will do this for you automatically.
Some of the trainers we work with put the names of the people being trained in to an autoresponder while they are still on the course .. the really clever ones get the student to do this themselves! They then set the system up to send out a reminder email a few months before the refresher is required by law.
I even know a wedding photographer that does something similar. OK. so most of his clients aren’t getting married again. But what he does is to send out a reminder photo on their anniversary. With it he sends a short note saying he’d love to take an anniversary shot of them (or their family). He normally arranges for the image to be sent a few weeks before the anniversary as he finds a lot of couples can be tempted to buy if given time.
When the wedding photographer send out his invites to come and be photographed he offers to serve the couple a bottle of bubbly and canapes in his studio. These get people in the mood and serve as great props for the photoshoot.
How Car Sales Garages Generate Repeat Business
Car sales people don’t have a great reputation. Second hand car salesman was a derogatory term when i was growing up. But it needn’t be like that.
Peter sold me my last car over ten years ago. It was Saab and Peter knew I’d buy another one three years later if he followed a certain process.
A few hours after I picked up the car Peter phoned me to make sure everything was working OK. He promised he would check again a few weeks later but tocal him if I had any worries. A couple of weeks later he phoned again to check all was well. “What’s the best thing about your new car”, he asked. I gave him quite a long list
A month later he called again and asked if I needed anything. The again six months later. We were on first name terms by now.
Sadly I never bought another Saab. They went out of business and no one ever had the opportunity to buy a new Saab ever again. But Peter and his aftercare are still with me ten years later. If he phoned me and offered me a wheelbarrow today I’d probably buy it!
The thing is after sales, even if it’s only a phone call, can generate the confidence to buy again. This technique will work in most retail situations. It doesn’t matter if you are selling cars, websites or First Aid courses , a quick call from time to time really helps.
I once showed this technique to a First Aid trainer. I called one of his previous clients and asked if they had ever needed to user what they had learned. It seems that one of the people my client had trained had performed CPR on a colleague that collapsed at work. They had saved that person’s life. I took the opportunity to ask if they thought a short CPR course fall all staff might be a good idea and we landed a piece of repeat business within minutes of calling.
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