Customer Retention Is No Accident -- How Small Business Can Get It Right

Loyal customers are precious. Identifying the details and creating a system to make sure they're taken care of is key.

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By Tom Borg

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Any small-business owner will tell you loyal customers are precious.

But only the committed business owner will consistently go the extra mile to make sure loyalty grows. Turns out it's no accident that the people they serve remain true over a long period of time.

According to business writer Jed Williams, a 2014 report from BIA/Kelsey and Manta based on findings from nearly 1,000 members of Manta's online directory community indicated a clear shift in focus to engagement and retention. According to the data, "Achieving Big Customer Loyalty in a Small Business World," 61 percent of the small businesses surveyed report that more than half of their revenue came from repeat customers rather than new business. Meanwhile, a repeat customer spends 67 percent more than a new customer. As a result, only 14 percent of small-business owners now spent the majority of their annual marketing budget on acquisition.

Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty

Marketing guru Theodore Levitt explained to us years ago that one of the things our loyal customers want is to be more than a faceless entity. They want to feel important, and they want a business relationship with us. In my 30+ years of working with successful business owners, I've seen many examples of how they created and delivered a system that built a successful and profitable client base. Unfortunately, many small-business owners will talk a good game but fail to deliver on a consistent basis.

So what does it take to gain and retain loyal customers? One of my clients, Jason J. Grobbel, president of Grobbel's, Corned Beef Specialists in Detroit, Mich., knows a few things about what it takes to keep very loyal clients. One of them is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has allowed Grobbel's to be their one and only nationwide supplier for corned beef. Let me repeat that: their one and only supplier.

Related: Think Small to Win Customer Loyalty

In a recent interview, Jason shared four reasons why Grobbel's is able to do this.

  1. Their product has wide consumer appeal.
  2. Grobbel's is the best at consistent delivery.
  3. Their costs are very low, but quality is high.
  4. They instill a passion for continuous improvement with all team members.

So this small business of less than 200 employees is able to deliver exactly what customers across the country -- including Wal-Mart -- want, and as a result, has earned a very faithful following of large and small clients.

Small-business owners who do best at gaining and retaining loyal customers make sure they work their system for success. Customer loyalty is consistent attention to the little details. By identifying the important details and creating a system to make sure they are taken care of, any company owner can build a very profitable business.

If you're one of the business owners who is tenacious in your approach to instilling a sense of customer service in every person in your organization, you can expect similar results.

Related: Wow Customers by Adding Sprinkles to Your Retail Service

Tom Borg

President of Tom Borg Consulting

Tom Borg is a business expert who works with small and mid-size companies to profitably improve customer acquisition and retention and employee performance. He does this through his consulting, speaking, and professional writing. For more information on how he can help you and your company call   (734) 404-5909 or email him at: or visit his website at:

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