5 ways franchisees attract and retain new customers

Nick Hall

Whether you’ve been in business for years or you are just starting out, a steady flow of new customers is essential to the ongoing success of your business.

But rather than relying on new prospects to just walk through the door, franchisees should be working proactively to stay front of mind. How you get the message out is important, but don’t think the process stops at the point of sale.

The most important aspect of running a business is return customers. While the thrill of a new prospect or lead is unquestionably addictive, there’s real money to be made in the familiar faces.

Statistics from marketing firm Hüify reveal that the cost of attracting a new customer is five times that of retaining an existing client. Boosting your customer retention by just five per cent can increase overall profits by 25 per cent.

Getting the mix of attracting, retaining and connecting with new customers and existing prospects is hard, but far from impossible.

“The stronger the connection between your customers and your brand, the more inclined they are to use your services and refer to others,” Melissa Haywood, head of print solutions giant Vistaprint Australia said.

“It may feel overwhelming to crack the sweet spot of consumer connection but when done right, it will pay off immensely for your business.”

We spoke with the marketing and customer acquisition specialist to uncover five ways franchisees can attract and retain new customers.

1. Personalisation

“Make your brand feel personal,” Hayward said. “No customer wants to feel taken advantage of by the corporate world and will always be looking for ‘the best deal’.”

Franchisees should pay careful attention to detail when it comes to the tone of their promotional emails.

Taking the time to personalise your message will go a long way in the eyes of new customers whose email inboxes may be flooded with spam.

2. Loyalty programs

A big factor in customer retention is reward. Brands across all industries do this in a multitude of different ways. From coffee cards to discount movie vouchers, it pays to offer new customers a reason to return.

Hayward suggested loyalty programs, if not already supplied by your franchisor, were a great way to inspire new customers to become regular visitors.

“Ensure your new customers stay around for the long-term through loyalty programs and discount opportunities. Making them feel nurtured will increase their likeliness to return,” she said.

“It’s worth looking into loyalty cards or discount schemes to ensure you are building trusted relationships which go the distance.”

3. Customer service

Regardless of the industry in which you operate, you are going to have to interact with customers. Even solo operations with little face to face interaction, like a logistics or construction business will require some level of customer service, and often this is the deciding factor in whether new customers return.

In fact, American Express found 33% of customers will consider switching companies after just one instance of poor customer service.

“Follow up on queries immediately, remain empathetic and try to settle disputes quickly and efficiently,” Hayward said.

“If a matter arises where you need to go above and beyond, try offering a discount and always follow up with a personalised note or call once the matter has been resolved. In a time where most methods of communication are electronic, a hand-written note on branded materials can go a long way.”

4. Go above and beyond

Exceed your customers’ expectations. With so many businesses on the market, some local, some international and a wealth online, it’s critical that you not only meet your client’s requests, but surpass them.

“Whether it be a free gift, a birthday email or requesting feedback on how your business has performed over the last year, you will set yourself apart from competitors by showing signs of interest in customer opinion,” Hayward said.

“Sending a personalised gift to a new customer can be a great way of ‘welcoming’ them to your business.”

5. Be the expert

Finally, new customers want to feel at ease and comfortable letting you provide the service or product you are selling. You must come across confident and capable, this way you can position your business as the most knowledgeable and professional in your field.

“Ensure that your website and marketing materials are regularly monitored and updated. Offer advice and position yourself as a ‘problem solver’,” Hayward said.

“By building yourself a reliable marketing calendar of key dates and events, such as Valentine’s Day and Easter, you will position yourself perfectly to existing and new customers, right when they need you the most.”

Reward of retaining new customers

As mentioned before, retaining an existing customer costs far less than acquiring a new one. By focusing on customer service, follow up and personalisation, franchisees can turn new customers into repeat visitors with ease.

From there, your business will grow significantly. Return customers are not only good for recurring sales, they also open the door for referrals.

Be sure to refine your core competencies and work on being the most approachable business; people want to feel listened to and accepted.