Here on the FreshLime blog we post all kinds of articles to help small business owners with digital marketing tips. We talk about social media, big data analysis, sales tips and tricks, customer loyalty, online reviews, websites and your online presence. We get into the details to show you what to do, how to do it, and examples of what you can expect when you do.

But let’s dial it back for a minute and get back to the basics and focus on one thing that is the most important, simple thing to do to grow your business.

You must do everything you can to initiate, nurture and protect your… relationships.

Relationships are the single most important thing you can focus on as a small business owner. Loyal customer relationships are the gift that keeps on giving for your small business growth. Loyal customers are more likely to spend more with you per visit, refer people your way 10x more often than a 1-time customer, and cut down on your sales and marketing costs because of their word-of-mouth and online review testimonials for you.

Here are some examples of things you can do to create loyal customer relationships from the very beginning:

Start with clarity

People really appreciate it when you are clear about what you do and what purpose your business serves. Make sure you are listed on every directory where they might search for your business and that your business name appears the same every time it pops up. Your business website at minimum should have the following elements:

  1. Photos of you, your equipment, jobs you have done and your team – this will help a prospective customer become familiar with who you are and will start to build trust.
  2. Obvious text about what you do – if you are a plumber make sure you have plumbing terminology on your page that people will be looking for. If you do plumbing and HVAC be sure to include both. If they don’t see it they won’t ask you – they will just search for someone who states it more clearly.
  3. Contact info clearly on the page – Make sure your phone number, email and business address if applicable is stated on your business page in large text. If they can’t figure out how to reach you they will just go to the next listing.

Make Your Customer’s Problems, Your Problems

One of the biggest complaints a new customer makes that ruins their first impression of a company is the lack of caring. They come with a problem that needs to be solved and they want to feel important. They want to know that you care about getting their bathroom leak fixed quickly as much as they do. If they get the sense that you don’t care they will find someone who does. So fake it until you make it if you are having a bad day – because that first consultative moment on the phone or in person will set the stage for your lifelong relationship (or 10 minute relationship) with this client.

Don’t go MIA – but don’t be creepy either

Keeping in touch appropriately with your customers is probably one of the most difficult things to do as a small business owner. And it’s not because you don’t care (see the section above:). It’s because you are busy operating your business and time flies when you are busy with all of that. Before you know it a year has gone by since you fixed Mrs. Bushnell’s broken window seals and now it’s a little awkward when you reach out to ask if she needs anything. But reaching out every other day with another offer or pointless text message just ends up feeling creepy on the customer end of the message. So you need balance… and data to show you what you last did for your customer and when it happened. Then you can reach out with a smart message like “Hi Mr. Potts – it’s been 3 months since we last did an oil change on your 79′ Buick. Have you passed 124,533 miles? Either way we want to keep that beauty in shape – do you have time to bring her in this week?” Think about how much a message like that would mean to Mr. Potts – you know him, you care about his car and his well-being. All the sudden it’s not about your business and how great you are – it’s about him and how great his car is – and how much you want to make sure it stays great. The result? Customer for life. And if not, they probably don’t have a soul;).

If you aren’t SuperMan or Wonder Woman (if you are seriously give me a call) then you probably can’t do all of this yourself. One reason I love FreshLime so much is because we are doing it for small business owners and it’s making a huge difference for them every day. Huge. So I sleep really well at night because I feel like I’m a small part of helping the lifeblood of America (small businesses) grow. And if relationships aren’t your thang then that’s the reason to check us out – you will make more money. But you should still pretend like relationships are the real reason you are doing this. Because it just sounds better:).

Want more insider knowledge on how to grow your small business? Follow the FreshLime Blog. You can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter Lunchbox where we will break it all down, bite-size takeaway style. Join us, we are excited you are here – let’s build a relationship together (see what I did there?:)