How repeat clients—also known as anchor clients—can help your small business drive consistent revenue, even during uncertain times.
When you’re building a business, every client is important. And in uncertain times, there’s one type of client that can help you keep your business on stable ground—and that’s repeat clients.
Repeat clients can completely transform your business, delivering the steady, consistent income you need to continue to grow and take your business to the next level. According to data outlined in a 2019 article from HubSpot, a 2% increase in customer retention has the same impact as decreasing costs by 10%. Furthermore, a 5% increase in customer retention produces a more than 25% increase in profit.
Clearly, repeat clients are extremely valuable to your business. But how, exactly, do you find those clients—and once you find them, how do you keep them coming back month after month?
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What Are Repeat Clients—and Why Are They so Important to Your Business?
First things first. Before we dive into how to find and land repeat clients, let’s quickly cover what repeat clients are—and why they’re so important for your business.
Repeat (or “anchor”) clients are clients that engage your business on a long-term basis. Unlike recurring clients (for example, clients who pay a monthly subscription fee for a software service), anchor clients are more project-based.
Repeat clients typically continue to engage your services over the long-term (for example, a client that continually engages your design business for a variety of services, like developing branding materials and designing sales decks). And while both are good for business, if you run a service-based company, anchor clients that continually engage your services can be a driving factor in your business’ growth.
There are a variety of reasons why you’ll want to have stable anchor clients, including:
- They help you escape the “feast or famine” cycle. Instead of continually looking for new leads and trying to drum up new projects, repeat clients drive more steady, consistent revenue streams for your business.
- They allow you to get to know your clients better—which allows you to do better work. The better you know your clients, the more you can tailor your work to their wants, needs and preferences—and, generally, the better your work will be received. The repeat nature of anchor clients allows you to really get to know your client and what they’re looking for, which will help you deliver better, higher-quality work.
- You know what to expect. There are a lot of question marks when you start working with a new client. What do they need? What’s their communication style? Will they pay on time (or at all)? With repeat clients, there are fewer question marks. Because you already have an established relationship, you have the answers to those questions. You know what to expect—and the process of working with them is easier, smoother and more predictable.
- They can lead to more referrals. When a client works with you consistently over a long period of time, that means they’re happy with your work and the business relationship—which also means they’re more likely to recommend your business to others.
- You don’t have to continually sell yourself to anchor clients. Because you have a history with your anchor clients, you don’t have to continually sell yourself to them in the way you have to sell yourself to new clients—which means you can drum up more business with less effort.
Clearly, anchor clients are a great way to support and grow your business. But how do you build your roster of repeat clients? Try these 5 tips:
1. Define Your Ideal Anchor Client—and Then Position Your Business to Attract Those Clients
You can’t find or land your ideal anchor clients if you don’t know what you’re looking for—which is why it’s so important to define who your ideal anchor client actually is.
Before you start trying to land repeat clients, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions about your ideal client, including:
- What does my ideal client do?
- What are their hot-button issues?
- What kinds of products and/or services are they looking for?
- What kind of budget are they working with?
The more specific you can be, the better. So for example, your ideal client might be a tech firm with 50 to 100 employees and $2 million-plus in revenue that’s looking to brand a new product—but because they don’t have an in-house design team, they haven’t gotten very far in the process.
Once you know who your ideal client is, the more targeted you can be in how you position your business in your marketing and outreach—and the more likely it is that your position, marketing and outreach will connect with your target demographic and lead to repeat business.
2. Over-Deliver Every Single Time
If you want to transform first-time or one-time clients into anchor clients, you need to keep them coming back for more. And the best way to do that? Consistently over-delivering on projects.
Go above and beyond wherever you see an opportunity, whether that’s finishing a project earlier than expected, carving out time to respond to a client emergency during off-hours, or continuing to answer questions and offer guidance—even if you’re in between projects.
Another way to over-deliver for your clients? Look for ways to provide value beyond what your client expects. Let’s say your client hired you to solve a problem with their current organizational systems. Instead of just solving the problem for them, offer to also walk your client through your process, including the “how” and “why” behind your approach.
Take the time to not only solve problems for your clients but to empower them to solve problems themselves. This will help elevate your status to a trusted partner and advisor—which is key to building long-term relationships and driving repeat business.
3. Do Customer Service Better Than Anyone Else
Clients will keep coming back if you offer them an unparalleled customer service experience. So if you want to land repeat clients, creating that customer service experience is a great place to start.
Look for ways to elevate the customer service experience for your clients.
- Get back to clients as soon as possible when they reach out with a question—and be ready with an answer or solution
- Look for ways to simplify the process of working with you, by offering online payment options for your clients or investing in collaboration tools that make it easy for your clients to see the progress of your projects in real-time
- If your client isn’t satisfied with a specific deliverable, offer to redo the work to make sure it’s in line with what they’re looking for
Another aspect of creating a stellar customer service experience for your clients is showing them you care about them—and not just the money they’re funnelling into your business.
Look for ways to prove to your customers that you’re committed to the relationship for the long-term. Try following up after a project to make sure it’s driving the desired results or having regular check-ins to ask for feedback on how you can improve your services.
The point is, the better your customer service, the happier your clients will be—and the more likely it is they’ll continue to do business with you in the future.
4. Reward Loyal Customers and Incentivize Repeat Business
If your goal is to drive repeat clients, a great way to achieve that goal? Give your clients an incentive to do business with you on a regular basis.
Rewarding clients for repeat business is a great way to foster more long-term relationships—and keep your clients both engaging your business more regularly and giving you more business each time they engage.
Depending on your business structure, there are a variety of ways to encourage repeat business and incentivize your clients, including:
- Retainer discounts (e.g., a percentage off their invoice each month if they agree to retain your services for three months or more)
- Bulk discounts (e.g., a percentage of the total if they purchase three or more packages at once)
- Loyalty programs (e.g., clients receive points every time they work with your business—and once they hit a certain number of points, they can claim a reward, like a discount on their next service)
How you incentivize your clients is up to you. But if you give your clients incentives to do business with you on a more regular basis, they’re more likely to continually engage your business—and before you know it, you’ll have a roster of long-term, repeat clients.
5. Remember That Often, the Small Things Are the Big Things
You might think you need to make grand gestures or bend over backwards to find and land repeat clients. But the truth is, it’s usually the little things that transform one-time clients into anchor clients—and paying attention to those small details can help ensure your clients keep coming back.
Some of the little things you can do to strengthen your client relationships (and drive repeat clients in the process) include:
- Remembering important details about your clients (like birthdays) and their businesses (e.g., when they’re launching a new product)
- Referring clients to other people in your network that may be able to help them hit their business goals
- Sending helpful information or research (e.g., industry blog posts, case studies or a how-to guide for an issue you know your client is dealing with)
Maintaining a friendly, human relationship with your clients can also play a big part in driving repeat business. Dropping your clients a line to say hello to see how things are going in between projects can go a long way in showing your clients you care about and respect them—which, in turn, will make them want to continue doing business with you.
Leverage Repeat Clients to Build a Stable Business
Repeat clients are an essential part of building a successful and lucrative business. And now that you know how to find and land anchor clients, you can use these strategies to find the clients you need to grow a stable business—and keep them coming back for more.
This post was updated in April 2020.