• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • 4 Ways to Build Relationships With Small Business Clients

Small businesses have a unique opportunity to cultivate deep relationships with their customers and the community. Because you have direct experience with the local area, your business can easily outshine larger corporations by offering services, products, and experiences that feel personal and resonate with local tastes.

Building strong relationships with customers doesn’t just steward long-term relationships—it also strengthens your reputation in the community and attracts new clients through the power of word-of-mouth advertising. For example, if your dog grooming business goes out of its way to provide tailored services to a customer’s anxious pet, they are more likely to recommend your shop to friends and family.

In this guide, we’ll reveal the top strategies that any small business can use to foster connections with local customers. Let’s get started!

1. Reach your clients where they are.

Communication preferences are the ways that people (in this case, your customers) like to be communicated with. This can encompass when they want to receive messages, which communication channels they engage with most, what kinds of messages they are likely to engage with, etc. Everyone has communication preferences, and it’s up to your business to understand and appeal to your clients’ preferences.

For example, do they prefer shorter messages or longer ones? Do they want to be contacted via email or text? Are they most likely to engage with your communications in the morning or at night? Track past engagement with your customers to identify trends and patterns—for example, a nail salon might track whether customers opt into text, email, or phone call reminders to see which channel they prefer.

When your business is aware of these preferences, you’ll be able to reach more customers and increase the chances that they engage with your communications. Then, they’ll be much more likely to take the next action, whether it be claiming a discount or booking an appointment.

2. Leverage information stored in your software.

The information stored in your business management software is the best way to gain a deeper understanding of your customers. For example, let’s say your dog boarding facility uses Gingr’s software to manage its operations. The software allows employees to store and collect many pieces of data about clients and their pets. You can then use this data to provide personalized experiences to customers.

Here are some examples of how information about your dog boarding business’s customers can reveal more than you might expect:

  • Booking patterns: These patterns reveal when customers tend to travel. While most customers may take one or two vacations in the summer, you may have a few customers who travel frequently throughout the year for work. For these customers, your boarding business could offer to enroll them in its “frequent flyer” program which offers deals to those who board their dogs often.
  • Pet details: This data tells you how many pets a customer has, which breeds they prefer, whether they have cats and dogs, and more. It can also pinpoint any special needs their pet has, such as dietary restrictions. From here, you can gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s lifestyle. If a customer has two labradors that are trained hunting dogs, you could promote your new grooming services to them during the muddy hunting season.
  • Add-on purchases: Track which customers often purchase additional services like grooming, training sessions, or spa days. These purchases could indicate that customers are busy, don’t have the space to groom their dogs at home, or simply like to pamper their pets. Perhaps you find that many customers who book grooming sessions are busy professionals who live in apartment buildings and recommend that they try your daycare or dog-walking services, too.

These insights can also inform your other business strategies. For example, your dog boarding business might track company-wide bookings and see that there are spikes during the holiday season and the summer months. Then, you could launch targeted marketing campaigns and special deals during those times to maximize business.

3. Get involved in your community.

To attract more local customers and build relationships, strive to become a highly visible, valuable member of your community. Giving back and connecting with the community has the added benefit of improving your reputation.

Consider getting involved through events and opportunities like:

  • Corporate giving initiatives: Corporate giving refers to the donations that a business makes to social causes. Your business can simply donate money to causes it resonates with, but there are also ways to get employees involved. In matching gift programs, for example, your business would pledge to match employee donations to eligible organizations. So, if you match an employee’s donation of $50, their total impact would be $100.
  • Community events: Organize your own community event (e.g., a gym holds a community wellness day) or partner with another organization. Small businesses often sponsor nonprofit fundraising events in exchange for the nonprofit displaying their logo on signage and marketing materials. To curb event costs, your business can support the event financially, assist with the planning process, or make in-kind donations like products that serve as auction items.
  • Corporate volunteerism: Encourage your employees to contribute their time and skills to local nonprofits and worthy causes through corporate volunteerism. Consider organizing company-wide volunteer days in which your business spends time together working with a nonprofit. Or, supply volunteer grants to the organizations your employees already volunteer with regularly.

Similar to corporate sponsorships, your business can also partner with nonprofits to hold a joint cause marketing campaign. According to 360MatchPro, these campaigns are “a collaboration between a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization to promote the nonprofit’s cause or mission.” These campaigns allow your business to give back to its community and build relationships with local nonprofits, all while increasing brand awareness and driving revenue.

4. Seek feedback.

As a business owner, you already know the impact of customer reviews. Great reviews on platforms like Google or Yelp motivate more customers to visit your business. And while no business wants to receive a negative review, this feedback is what motivates businesses to improve the most.

There are a few different ways to solicit feedback from your customers, including:

  • Sharing online surveys with them via text or email. Consider sending the survey after they visit your business to get feedback about that specific experience.
  • Offering physical feedback forms in your facility. For example, a dog daycare may have a suggestion box at its check-in desk or a form for customers who want to recognize stand-out employees.
  • Spreading awareness of online review platforms. Create posters for your store with scannable QR codes that link to your Google, Yelp, and other social media accounts.
  • Conducting interviews with individual customers or focus groups. This is a great way to get more qualitative, in-depth feedback, and it allows you to ask specific questions related to your offerings.

Remember to seek internal feedback from employees as well. Reviewing employee feedback and implementing their suggestions shows that you value their input and can help you boost employee engagement and retention.

Building strong, positive relationships with your customers should be at the top of your business’s to-do list. By leveraging the strategies in this guide, you’ll put your customer data to good use, get to know your clients, become a valuable part of the community, and show customers that you value their opinions. These relationships you nurture will sustain your business’s success for years to come.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter

And receive fundraising ideas, how-to articles, and tips for a successful campaign!

Enter your email address below and follow the confirmation prompts. You will be able to unsubscribe at any time through a link in any emails.