The ‘Italians’: Five simple secrets for attracting loyal and loving customers.

Will your customers be with you for three years or longer?

Last week I wrote about how to bring more of “your” into your business. This week, it’s about how to make space for your clients to be themselves in your business, which – funnily enough – helps them to feel safe and loved… and makes them want to keep doing business with you. Let me give you a brilliant example.

I love my local markets.

I often take my daughter shopping with me on a Saturday morning, and we visit the “Bananaman”, John, who always gives Erin (who’s 2 and a half) a little banana. He loves that she’s a regular to his stall. One day, we had enough bananas at home, so I hadn’t bought any, and when we walked past his stall on the way out, she made me go back, because she wanted her banana!

Next we stop at Tanya and Franco’s stall. Tanya and Franco are Italian, in their 50s, perhaps. By the time we get there, Franco (who, strangely, looks like a bikie farmer with his red bandana and his long beard) is wandering around… shorts and barefeet, moving boxes, doing deals with other stall holders, and rearranging the fruit and veg on their tiny stall.

Tanya is serving customers. “Hello Yollana!” She says. (To her credit, she knew my name long before I remembered hers.) Then: “Hi little Erin. Oh! I can’t believe how much she’s grown.” And if another customer is listening, she’ll tell them how she’s known Erin since she was in her mother’s tummy.

Then I’ll choose my fruit and veg. They’ll always tell me if something’s new, or especially delicious, or if it’s the last crop for the season. She weighs the stuff, and passes it to me, as I put it all together in the basket under the pram – trying to avoid using any more bags.

“How much, Tanya?” I ask… “For you, darling,” she answers, “That’s $15”… or whatever the amount is. I always gasp. “Tanya! That’s so cheap!” or I smile and say, “You’re just too good to me.”

While I’m already in a heightened state of rapture at getting so many delicious organic veggies from this gorgeous woman who knows my name, and has watched my daughter grow up, she’ll add some more – “By the way, do you like sage? Here – why don’t you take some of this?” Or… “Does Erin like pears?… Here, take some for the baby.”

I can tell you all this, practically word for word, because it’s happened every Saturday that I’m in town, for over three years.

Do I rave about Tanya and Franco? Absolutely. When I know someone’s shopping for their fruit and veg, I always tell them to go to Tanya and Franco first. They’ve made organics affordable for us for the last three years, and their smaller range (because it’s all from their own farm) is more than made up for by the awesome price and the special relationship we’ve developed.

So, what does this mean for your business?

One – Show a bit o’ character!

Part of what makes Tanya and Franco so special is… Well, they’re Tanya and Franco. They’re not afraid to be themselves… Tanya – Italian, 50-something, long bleached blonde hair, gold bracelets and a dress that shows off her bosom, calling you “darling”. You don’t forget it easily.

And I already told you about her short, bearded, barefoot, bandana-wearing, bikie farmer husband. They’re different, and that’s what makes them special, loveable, and memorable. I wrote about this in my last post.  Don’t be afraid to be yourself. And if they don’t like you… Well, they really wouldn’t have been such good clients anyway, would they?

Two – Know your customers name.

And, if you can, also remember the names of the people are interested in your business, but haven’t bought from you yet. It’s also helpful to know other things about them – their birthday (you can send a birthday card), the name of their husband, child, or dog… (Tanya always asks me – “Is Will [that’s my husband] still working on Saturday mornings?”).

Technology has a place here, and it can help. If you have a lot of clients or customers, you can keep some of this information on a file, so you can look them up when you are about to talk or meet with them. You can also use an online calendar to remind you of important dates so you can celebrate them with your clients.

Three – the number of things you offer, is not as important as how you offer it.

It’s so easy to think that you have to keep adding skills, products or services to your business to keep it going. Sometimes this is helpful, but at the fundamental level, the opposite is also true – If you do one thing really well, people will keep coming back.

What’s the most important product or service that your business offers? Spend a month focusing on doing just that one thing, and doing it really well… It builds momentum for your business as a whole.

Four –Be generous with information.

You know, it doesn’t cost Tanya anything to say to me “that’s the last of the zuchinnis for the season” or “look at this carrot – it’s the first pick for the year.” And it doesn’t cost me much to write these articles every week (a bit of time, that’s it.)

When you share information about your business freely, people get to know more of what you are about, and they start to develop a sense of trust for you, and what you offer. This… “throwing bread on the water” as my old boss used to say, is perhaps the most important first step to gaining loyalty and trust from the people who love what you do.

Five – Just give – add value, offer bonuses, and heighten the experience for your customer.

When I was already 100% satisfied with her service, Tanya offered me more. Many people advertise bonuses as a way to encourage clients or customers to purchase. This can be helpful in making an initial sale.

And it’s another thing entirely to offer bonuses after you’ve made the sale, from the goodness of your heart,  just because you care, because you can… and because it feels good to give. This kind of giving doesn’t encourage someone to purchase the first time, but it sends them blissfully raving about your business to the next five people they meet. At least, that’s what happens to me when Tanya adds free pears for Erin on top of an already brilliant shopping experience.

So, there it is.

Do you have customers who’ve been with you for three years or longer? Would you like to?

What do you do to recognise the individuals who show up?

Please comment below. I’d love to hear what you think 🙂



3 Responses

  1. Thanks Yollana for your blog articles. What lovely stories. Thanks

  2. Yollana, I’ve been in business since 1994 and I noticed my business take a HUGE growth spurt after I got a headset for my phone. This might seem odd, except that I do a LOT of business with clients over the phone. The headset let me hear the little things…smiles in their voices…sighs…questioning tones. I would pick up on this, and ASK appropriate questions.

    Clients so loved that I was A.) Listening, B.) Keeping their best interest at heart, and C.) Helping them find solutions they didn’t know existed. My goal has always been to nurture the business relationship because I’m in it for the long haul, not just a quick sale!

    Many blessings,

  3. yollana says:

    Far out, Nancy… Who would’ve thought – a headset! What a brilliant example of how technology can support empathy… That’s another topic in itself, ain’t it?

    Thanks so much for sharing 🙂