If you own a small business, you know how challenging it can be to keep customers coming back. Between intense competition, the changing economy and people’s transient nature, a business owner needs to be creative when it comes to maintaining a steady flow of established customers. For some business owners, offering loyalty perks is one way to keep the good vibes going and the Square app (or whatever a business uses for credit or debit payments) chirping.
For Holly Hunt, who has been a hairdresser for 16 years and running her own salon for the past two, loyalty perks have proven financially beneficial. Hunt, whose salon is in Columbus, says she offers the incentive program “to keep things exciting. It also keeps guests asking about what is new.”
She began offering a loyalty program in February 2018. For every ten product purchases a customer makes, they may choose any full-size product for free. Travel size and hair tool purchases count, too.
Kim Robinson is another Columbus entrepreneur who started Broadway Biscuits in 2017. Robinson bakes and sells organic dog biscuits at festivals and online. Because her business is so new, she doesn’t yet offer a loyalty program, but it is in the works. When in place, guests will be able to purchase a custom dog tag that will entitle them to a discount on their purchases for one year.
She and her new business partner “feel that (customer loyalty programs) are one of the best ways to continue to grow our business. We also want to reward our friends who purchase often.”
Offering a loyalty program is a great way, she says, to keep “customers come back again and again. When someone is excited by a new product or service they’ve discovered, they are eager to share it with their family and friends,” says Robinson.
Meanwhile, Hunt’s loyalty program has proven so successful, she ran out of punch cards and upcycled paper to create new ones. Offering the perks program has “helped guests try a new product or two,” she says.
Hunt has advice for other entrepreneurs considering a loyalty program. For one, she says, “make it easy,” in the sense that it should be simple to explain to
customers. In her situation, offering free products after a client purchases ten is what she calls a “no-brainer” for them to understand how they will benefit from their purchases. Secondly, she urges business owners to be upfront about the program. Don’t let there be any fine print that may confuse or alienate guests.
“Get excited about it (your loyalty program) and believe in yourself,” Hunt urges.
Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer who tweets as @girlwithapen
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