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Do the Math

A simple equation can help boost your sales.

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This story appears in the March 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Take the percentage of your customers who would recommend your company to a friend, then subtract the percentage who would not. The result is your net promoter score. In The Ultimate Question (Harvard Business School Press, $24.95), Fred Reichheld says this number is vital for businesses, and he shows how to calculate it--and raise it.

U.S. companies' average net promoter score falls short of 10 percent, Reichheld says. Some companies score much higher, however. To calculate yours, ask customers "How likely is it you would recommend this company to a friend?" soon after each sale. Have them rate you on a zero-to-10 scale. Consider nines and 10s promoters, and anyone answering below five a detractor. Then try different approaches to raising your score until you find what works.

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