Want Loyal Customers?

As seen published in…

September 2011

Groomer to Groomer

Title:  Loyalty Royalty

By:  Joe Zuccarello

What is customer loyalty anyway?  What is so important about customer loyalty?  How can we master customer loyalty, putting loyalty first in our business?  In other words, how do we make loyalty, “King” in our business?

By definition, loyalty is defined as, “faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause.”  Some of us call these loyal customers “regulars”, “frequents”, “steadies”, or “guarantees”.  They fill our books with their pre-booked weekly or monthly appointments and we think they are the most loyal customers we can have.  When I ask groomers about their loyal customers, these are the customers that come to mind.  At first, I would have agreed with the groomers.  But after taking a step back and really looking at it, these are the most frequent customers, but we have many more customers that fit the definition of “loyal” than we may think.

Now that we are not confusing the words “loyal” and “frequent”, we need to understand what makes loyal customers so important and how can we get and keep more of them in our business.

Loyal customers are those customers who have made a decision to do business with you even though they have other choices, sometimes less expensive, or more elaborate choices to pick from.  Loyal customers feel good about doing business with you.  Loyal customers are your biggest fans, often speaking your praises and passing your business card to their friends and family members and even strangers on the street that ask them where they get their beautiful little dog groomed.  Loyal customers will bend their schedule for you on the days when you may be ill, you need a vacation, or simply need more time to complete their pet’s grooming because it is the holidays and you are slammed.  Loyal customers are not always the most frequent, but are the most faithful to you, even if they only visit you once every six months.  Loyal customers rely on YOU as much as you rely on THEM.  Don’t overlook the less frequent customers and mistake them for less loyal.

How do we get AND keep more loyal customers?  There are some basic principles you can employ to further solidify the relationships you have with your customers and foster new loyal relationships.

  1. Understand your role.  Your role is that of the Expert.  You know more about what the pet needs than just a haircut or nail trim. Be a partner with the pet parent in the pet’s health and well-being.  You may not be a Veterinarian, but you should have knowledge beyond the pet owner as to the needs of the pet’s skin and coat, the pet’s oral hygiene, and even the pet’s behavior.  Take care not to diagnose, but be a resource and refer the pet owner to the correct people or products that can help them with these issues.  Your customers look to you to be the Expert.  Learn as much helpful information as you can and be sure to pass it along to your customers at every opportunity.  Take every opportunity to pick up some additional knowledge you believe your customers would find helpful.  Purposely seeking out helpful information will also give you some variety in your daily routine.  Make a point every day to learn something and teach someone.
  2. Set Standards.  If you are the only person working in your business, then focus all of the following effort on yourself.  For the vast majority of businesses out there, you probably have others working for you.  A client is more apt to be loyal if they feel comfortable and confident in your abilities as a business, not just an individual.  For this reason, set strict standards for your staff to follow so they can deliver the same level of service and quality you would.  Their official name may be different than yours, but when it comes to business, all employees share the same name; the name of the business.
  3. Enhance EVERY experience.  Every customer visit should be just as exciting as the very first time they entered your facility.  Disney capitalizes on this concept better than most businesses.  For some avid Disney buffs, it doesn’t matter how many times they have been to the theme parks, they will gladly go back time and time again because of the feeling they get and the experience they have.  For these people, every other theme park pales in comparison.  For our businesses, we don’t have to change much, but we need to be careful we don’t take the customer’s visit for granted.  They need to feel important every time they visit or you may lose them to someone else who makes them feel important as you once did.  We do a great job of exciting new customers in an attempt to gain their business away from our competitor.  We forget, sometimes, our competitors would love the opportunity to make OUR “regulars” and “steadies” feel important.

Easy Money? Is there such a thing?  It takes work to build a business; Physical and Mental work.  I am not sure who first coined the phrase, but it is SO true.  “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”  As always, I wish you the best.

Treat your customers like Royalty and they will reward you with Loyalty.


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