As entrepreneurs we are often attracted to the newest, latest and greatest ideas for everything, not just as part of our own businesses and this often includes our marketing. We may fall in love with new trends like content marketing, Facebook ads, podcasting or viral videos to promote sales growth.
In reality, however, sometimes the old tried and true techniques can often work just as well, or better, and cost less. Slack, an online communications company, grew at 5% per week for over 70 weeks using this exact same idea. In fact, they grew 33X in one year! While you probably won’t get to that pace, you can double your sales if you apply these same ideas. And customers are willing to switch brands and even spend more if they think they are getting better service. Or in other words, better service pays better.
In our business, we have followed a simple four step plan for growth and have had tremendous success with it without having to spend any money.
Step 1) Make Sure Your Service is the Best of the Best
Start by taking a hard look at your business and figure out where there is room for improvement. None of the rest of this will work if you aren’t delivering amazing service. The good news is this is something that will pay off forever, not just on a short term basis. If you make this part of your core company culture, you will never lack for customers or business. Here are a few areas to consider improving:
How quickly do your respond to inquiries, problems and questions?
Do you try to solve problems or simply respond to them?
Do you follow a rigid process in your responses or do you have the flexibility to make individual situations right in a way that leaves each customer uniquely satisfied
Are you doing everything you can to set clear expectations and deliver on them so customers are never underwhelmed or disappointed with what they get
Are you at least as good and working on being better than any of your competitors in your level of customer service
If you aren’t sure or are behind, step one is to work to revamp your business so that you impress your customers with how great your service is every time they interact with you.
Step 2) Over Deliver on Your Customers’ Expectations
Once your service is top notch, the next step is to try hard to go the extra mile to really blow them away. Again, this doesn’t have to cost anything, it’s more a matter of giving them even more than they expect. You could deliver faster, add an extra to their order, follow up with a personal note to check on their experience or anything else that will put you in a class above the competition.
The goal of this is to figure out how you can not only provide amazing service but really go the extra mile to make a favorable and memorable impression on your customers.
Step 3: Ask for an Honest Review
After you have figured out how to offer mind blowing service and over deliver on your customers’ expectations the next step is to ask them for a review. There are several reasons for that:
Reviews in general will help you gain new customers and are a fantastic marketing tool for your business
In the event you still have room for improvement, reviews are one place you will be able to find out what and how you can do better
Once a customer has written a positive review for you they will not only be more likely to use you again but also more likely to refer you and more likely to be forgiving if something happens to go wrong at some point in the future. This is because to not do so would cause a cognitive dissonance problem for them that psychology has proven is a powerful force in influencing behavior.
Step 4: Rake in the Referrals
This is where all your preparation has been leading you and the source of being able to double your income. If each of your current customers sent you an average of one new customer, then you have immediately doubled your business.
If you have followed steps one through three then your customers should not hesitate to recommend you every chance they get and many will without ever being encouraged to do so.
You probably don’t want to leave it to chance, however! And there are lots of things you can do to encourage your customers spreading the word:
Ask them to and make it easy by providing a simple referral link or webpage or other no effort method of helping them tell their friends about you
Offer an incentive for referrals such as a gift, discount or other perk
If you do the first three steps correctly you should be getting a ton of referrals anyway but if you make the effort to encourage referrals you really should have no problem doubling your business inside a year or even doing significantly better than that!
Matt Remuzzi is the owner of CapForge Bookkeeping, a full service nationwide bookkeeping service that specializes in high quality, highly affordable service for small businesses and startup entrepreneurs. Matt has a popular QuickBooks book on Amazon and you can find him on Twitter daily. If you have questions, he’d love to hear from you!