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Wonder why clients aren't beating down your door? 6 turnoffs that keep customers from coming back

Be Your Own Boss, Fall 1999

How much are your customers worth? Without them, your new business could fail to get out of its starting gate. According to Joe Girard, renowned sales guru and author of the bestselling How to Sell Anything to Anybody (Warner Books), every person you meet knows at least 250 other people who may need your products or services. That's great news for start-up entrepreneurs, right?

Unfortunately, it's the flip side of Girard's principle that hurts. Should one client leave you dissatisfied, you lose more than that person's business--you sever ties to as least 250 prospective customers or referral sources. And incurring such a significant loss can stop a start-up in its tracks.

So what entrepreneur would knowingly allow such a loss? That's the problem. Many fledgling business owners don't realize which critical mistakes push customers--and their referrals--away. And as a result, it's only a matter of time before they're forced to give up their entrepreneurial dream. So before opening shop, make sure you know exactly what keeps customers coming back for more, or better yet, what keeps them from ever returning again.

Loyalty Is Job One

With time, money and, perhaps most important, the freedom to be your own boss at stake, what can you do to influence customers to stay with you? Begin by learning from what other entrepreneurs have done wrong.

Here are six mistakes new business owners make that keep clients from coming back:

J. David Harper Jr., ChFC, president of The Harper Financial Group LLC in Atlanta, has been helping entrepreneurs achieve their business and financial goals for 20 years.

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