Often, business owners put a lot of emphasis on acquiring new customers. This can make a lot sense. After all, you need to keep bringing in new money if you are going to keep the business going.

However, it’s also important to pay attention to your current customers. Are you building long-term relationships?

One of the most challenging aspects of being a business owner is cultivating those relationships with customers while at the same time drawing in new business. You need to strike the right balance.

Loyal Fans are Important to Long-Term Success

It takes a lot of effort to bring in a new customer. You might need to connect with someone between six and eight times (or more) to bring them in as a new customer. That’s a lot of work.

There’s nothing wrong with doing that work, and you do need new customers. However, you can’t keep relying only on new customers. You also need to build long-term relationships with your current customers.

Loyal fans can do a lot for your business. First of all, it’s easier and cheaper to maintain an existing relationship than it is to keep building new relationships from scratch. Make it a point to keep those relationships with your fans.

Next, if you can get someone to become a loyal fan, not only will they keep coming back to spend their money, but they will also tell their friends about it. Create incentives for your loyal customers to share their experiences and encourage word-of-mouth marketing. You might be surprised at the low cost involved when your long-time customers do some of the outreach for you.

How to Nurture Long-Term Relationships

When you are working on maintaining long-term relationships with your customers, it’s important to provide value. This doesn’t always mean the cheapest price, either. Sometimes it’s more about how the customer feels when they do business with you. It’s about making sure your long-time customers feel appreciated.

You can do things like offer “insider” promotions. It’s a good way to boost online sales as well as in-person sales. Offer loyal customers a special coupon code or give them the chance to buy something desirable early. Treat your customers well, and they will happily keep coming back for the perks.

Pay attention to the “regulars” that come into your brick and mortar store. Never underestimate the value of personal service. A few years ago, before I moved, I used to frequent a small bakery. Whenever he saw me, the owner would come out, sometimes drying freshly-washed hands on a towel, and chat for a few minutes, waiting on me personally — even if there were employees who could take care of it.

The personal attention and the way he remembered my favorite treats kept me coming back. We all like to feel special. You can do that, too. Notice who visits your store regularly, and take a couple minutes to make the customers feel valued and appreciated.

Even as you chase new leads and look for ways to grow your business online, don’t forget the personal touches. Nurture long-term relationships with customers, and you might be surprised at how it can build a good foundation for your business.

I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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