Mastery of Client Retention and Referrals4 min read

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A few weeks back, I was talking business with a gentleman over a scotch and a cigar. The conversation leaned towards a conversation on creating a referral strategy of which you could refer quality clients back and forth to each other. One of my questions to him was, “Tell me something about your quality clients that you have great relationships with that you feel might be good referrals for me.” He leaned back and thought about it, and he said, “I really don’t have any solid relationships with any of my clients.”

It shocked me, I asked why. He shares, “Well, based on the service I provide, I sit down with somebody for the first time, I show them all the benefits, what they can get out of it, all the different ways of using my service. Once they agree, they sign. They get what they want. I get what I want. They become low maintenance customers, and I really have no need to keep in touch with them unless they give me a call and ask a question.”

Wow, not quite the strategy I would apply in my own business. However, so he asked me, “Why, what would you suggest?” I replied, “One of the things I do, which I would encourage you to do is when a new client signs document their name and signing date, and every time you celebrate a year anniversary, take them out for a nice dinner. It’s a great way to get to know your clients on a personal level. Sit back, have some cocktails, some nice talk, bring your spouse, really get to know them better, and they will get to know you more. It’s a great process of which I thoroughly enjoy. Your clients will appreciate the relationship that you’ve built together because you’re really celebrating your success together over the last year.”

I share this story as there’s a simple formula that we need to apply in business to create a win-win for both parties. The formula is R x R = R. What does this mean? The first R represents relationships. Build quality relationships with your clients and your customers. Harvey Mackay wrote a great book years ago called Swim with the Sharks Without Getting Eaten Alive. There was one section that he took a lot of pride in that he had 77 questions that he would ask his clients to really get all the information on them, so he knew them inside and out. Birthdays, children, everything you could possibly think of. What it did was it created great relationships because he knew a lot about his customers and his clients.

The second R represents results. We must deliver results for our clients. We must deliver the goods and services that we promised to deliver them. Do what you say, when you say, the way you say you’re going to do it. Your clients expect results.

When you have a great relationship, and you deliver results for your clients, the last R is retention. You keep them. Why would they leave? They have a great relationship with you. They’re getting what they want. They’re going to stay.

Let’s look at this for a moment. Let’s say you have a great relationship with your client, but for whatever reason, your company, your organization is not delivering the quality results of excellence that your client expects. Someone else might come along and promise to deliver the goods and execute on their promise, and your client just might leave you. Let’s say you deliver great results. You give them what they want, when they want it, the way they want it, but you’ve never taken the time to get to know them or build a relationship. Somebody might come along that’s been wooing them for quite some time, build a great relationship with them, and one day, your client might just get up and disappear.

It’s not either-or, it’s both. We need to develop great relationships with our clients, deliver great results, and we will retain them as clients. Both parties will win as they develop a nice relationship for the long-term in addition to mutually helping each other build each other’s businesses.

When this formula is executed effectively, you get one more thing. You get a fourth R, and that represents referrals. To build a healthy business, you want to be dealing with clients you enjoy doing business with. Clients hang out with people just like themselves, so when you retain good quality clients by delivering results and building solid relationships, they’ll refer more people just like them. That’s the formula for building a successful business.

COACH MICHAEL DILL is an Award-Winning, Certified, Business Coach, Speaker, and Trainer. He brings more than 40 years of business and entrepreneurial experience in his leadership, team training, and mentoring practice. Michael’s passion is to both encourage and challenge business owners and entrepreneurs to become their best selves both personally and professionally to obtain all they want in their business and life. Businesscoachmichaeldill.com