The first order is great, but it’s really about a lot more than that

A few weeks ago a new Lidl store opened in our area. The opening is just one of 60 new shops that the company is looking to open in the UK in a year an ambitious £1.5bn UK expansion plan.

Big business indeed, but much smaller businesses can still learn from them by watching what they do to attract customers.

And so we received an offer for a ‘Welcome Card’ with the opportunity to save money over a 6 week period designed, of course, to get us into the routine of shopping with them.

The marketing team at Lidl know that although it’s great to get the first sale, it’s the ongoing visits and repeat sales that will make the real difference to the bottom line.

It begs the question – How do you lock a customer into your business?

Making sure that a new customer stays with you for as long as possible is one of the keys to building a business quickly and cost-effectively. There’s little point in spending time and money attracting a customer, only to see them wander off to your competitor the next time they are looking to buy something else.

One of the questions I always ask a business is – how many customers have bought just one product from you? If there are quite a few, then it’s very possible that a good percentage of them are really not your customers any longer and have moved on to a new supplier.

But can you build customer loyalty these days? Years ago you definitely could and many businesses would enjoy a customer’s business for many, many years. It’s not so easy today, but not trying to build some sort of loyalty is a pretty defeatist position to take.

The good news is that, in the healthcare marketplace you maybe stand more of chance of keeping someone with you for a longer period.

A study a few years ago suggested that elderly consumers are not only more likely to repurchase but also actively resist switching brands once they have established a favourite brand.

With that in mind, the question is….what are you doing to keep the customers you already have?

If you haven’t been in touch with them for a while, then maybe now is the time to put that right.

If you haven’t tempted them to buy the next product from you, then maybe you should be looking to do that too.

Bring new customers through the front door, while all the time existing customers are leaving by the back door is an expensive way to run a business. Spending time working on strategies that could increase your customer retention rate would be a good use of time and money.