You have hooked them, they are in the shop, or they are ordering from you regularly. The new customer will have to be looked after in the first few weeks and months of dealing with your business.
The new customer may have left another supplier for a good reason. If you are lucky you will be able to find out the reason and take particular care that the customer does not leave you for the same reason. For repeat customers the first few experiences with your business will be crucial – if you let them down in this period, they may move on to another new supplier.
Often a customer left because of indifference by the previous supplier. People like to feel that their business is wanted. So don’t neglect to thank customers for their business, and thank all contacts you have with people on the customers staff. Some day the lowly accounts clerk may be promoted, and the receptionist may have the boss’s ear when it comes to ordering time. So now is your chance to show them that you appreciate the business.
You can see more about my company at www.OSAMCQuillan.ie or if you want to to talk to an accountant about Irish tax and accounts you can phone +353 1 283 4123.
Find out the reasons customers often leave an existing supplier in your industry, and make sure you stress to new customers that you will not leave them down on those points. For example businesses need to review their suppliers regularly, and don’t always choose the cheapest supplier. They will review applications for suppliers using other criteria, such as availability of stock, merchandising support, speed of response to orders.
There are whole books devoted to this subject, so I am only briefly touching on the topic of market research. I hope you get enough from this brief section to use in your business quickly and use some of the ideas and techniques and ideas to get quick wins for your business.
You should regularly review the reason customers change supplier within your industry. This information is often freely available if you can take the time to research it. The simplest way is to get someone, maybe a student who is at a loose end, to do research for you by asking the right questions.
Questions such as ‘What would make you leave your current suppliers of widgets?’ are very relevant, and may yield important answers. These answers may help you to win new customers, once you know what ‘buttons to press’ in your conversations with them. Alternatively the answers may help you to retain your existing customers by avoiding the errors commonly made by others in your business.
For example a chain of hardware shops looked to replace suppliers of hand tools such as screwdrivers and hammers. The number one issue that the hardware chain had with hand tool suppliers was price, and they chose a supplier that came in with the lowest price of all suppliers. They took a larger order than usual, and put the tools on offer in all their shops. However, they chose other suppliers to supply the same products, alongside the cheapest. This decision was on the basis that these other suppliers had good, reliable products, were in a position to supply quickly, within 24 hours in some cases and had good product support.
I know for a fact that one of these hand tool companies was just as happy to sell less hand tools but at a decent margin, because we did their accounts. We helped the owner to prepare the bid for the hand tool contract.
In the course of helping the business, the owner admitted to me that he’d be delighted to get a better price and sell less to this particular chain of shops. He had spent the last number of years fighting a rearguard action, resisting pressure for discounts, taking an extraordinary level of returns ( goods that a customer returns ), while providing a great level of service.
This supplier gave training to the staff in the hardware shops on how to use their products, delivered all orders within 24 hours of the order, and accepted all returned goods without quibble. The difference now is that he is paid a better margin for doing all that.
All this goes to show, don’t take it for granted that the customer only buys on price – sometimes they will work with a supplier because of other aspects of the package that supplier offers them.
You can see more about my company at www.osamcquillan.ie or if you want to talk to an accountant about Irish tax and accounts you can phone +353 1 283 4123.