The Importance of Creating Loyal Customers
After the completion of this year’s World of Concrete we broke down the iCOAT booth, packed it and I headed home on my five hour journey back to headquarters in Phoenix. Since I was exhausted and it was already late I decided to stop in Kingman for the night; I got a room, grabbed what I needed and went to sleep. When I went outside to continue the journey it became immediately evident that someone had broken into my car and made off with the contents during the night. If you know me you know that I am continually training for an Ironman, marathon or some other event. Luckily I had taken my bike inside with me but had only grabbed my gym bag from the car for my short stay. I was shocked to say the least and when I started to add up the running, swimming, and biking gear that was gone I realized it was well into the $1000s of dollars. I had purchased the gear little by little and the enormity of replacing it all at once was daunting.
After the initial shock wore off I decided to make a list of the items that were stolen and decide what needed to be replaced immediately and what could wait. As I was making my list I realized that I use strictly Pearl Izumi running and biking gear, Oakley sunglasses, Yakima racks, Lake bicycling shoes, Brooks running shoes, and a variety of incidental smaller ticket items that I always buy from Tribe Multisport. Once I realized that I am extremely loyal to a few shops it made me think about customer loyalty and how important it is in today’s business climate.
Rewards of Loyalty
Once I started thinking about customer loyalty I couldn’t stop. I like to do business with people that take care of me, become my friend, meet my needs, provide quality service, have exciting new products and do a good job of educating me before a purchase. Obviously this is the way you would expect all businesses to be but unfortunately many lose track of what a joy it can be to actually get to know your customers and take an active role in their lives. We at iCOAT have always thought of our customers as friends and family, in fact many have stayed at our houses when in town. It is a thrill for us to see a customer grow and mature his business; success is a team effort. As I pondered this I wondered out loud what we would do if a customer had all their materials stolen from their truck or a jobsite. I guess the answer would be handled on a customer by customer basis; loyalty is usually rewarded in kind.
After my list was completed I called and emailed each of my suppliers; I explained my choice of gear, my loyalty, what happened and allowed them to respond. I was overwhelmed with responses from each and every one of the companies and people I deal with thanking me for my brand loyalty and business over the years. Without exception I was offered significant discounts on the items I needed to replace; one company went so far as to offer to sponsor me for upcoming races.
Loyalty Through Outstanding Service
Loyalty is a two way street in business. Bicycle Haus, Global Bikes and Tribe Multisports are the shops I deal with regularly locally. When I need parts or service I buy from them religiously. I do not order parts on the internet and expect to get them installed; I support my local shops by purchasing from them. When I need emergency service they respond by accommodate me because I am a valuable and regular customer.
At iCOAT we strive to help build our customers’ businesses into successful ventures. We stay on top of current trends in the industry, keep up with the latest advances in technologies, develop easy to learn trouble free systems and ensure that our customers receive product in a timely fashion with excellent technical support. In return we expect our customers to follow our recommended application techniques and use our entire system. We expect that an end user that is requesting an iCOAT decorative concrete product is receiving an iCOAT decorative concrete product. Cutting corners does not lead to repeat business, referrals or loyalty from a customer base or supplier.
I hated losing my equipment but it did allow me to reflect on a part of our business that should never be overlooked. Getting new customers is great but taking care of the ones you have now is better.