I am in the business of selling recycled golf balls. In other words, I sell golfers the balls they lose in the woods when playing golf. In my business, like nearly all others, client retention is critical to achieving success. Knowing your clients and communicating efficiently with them is one way to ensure your business will prosper. As the proprietor of the Boston Area Golf Group, I always pay close attention to my clients and their needs. It is crucial in the used golf ball business to satisfy the customer’s needs and make transactions enjoyable because the business is competitive and golfers, like other buyers, are always looking for good deals. My goal is to make sure that those who are looking for deals and need golf balls come to me rather than one of my competitors. One way to keep a steady clientele is to know the habits and tastes of your buyer, what kind of ball do they play with? Are they bothered by scuff or ink marks? Also a key factor is to know your clients schedule. Are they pressed for time and need to get to work? Do they like to spend time reviewing the balls and conversing? In order to retain a steady client base, these questions need to be answered in advance of client meetings.
Communicating with clients is the first step in client retention. Before the season starts, I send the same email to everyone who has bought golf balls from me in the past. I let my clients know that I am fully stocked with every brand of ball, and inform them of pre-season specials. The most effective way to communicate with clients is to send personal emails. Before I send the emails, I look into my folders for notes I have on individual clients. These notes will tell me what brands of balls they are interested in, and if they are picky about the condition. Knowing what brand your client plays with is important because you don’t want to waste their time selling them something they’re not interested in. Also, I know that if I send them an email regarding the specific ball they play with, it conveys a message that I remembered them. This helps build relationships with my clientele.
The second key element in client retention is making it easy for your customer to make a purchase. When they come to buy, I display all the balls in open crates by brand. Customers want to know exactly what they’re buying, and don’t want to sift through boxes and crates to see the balls. Presenting them neatly and in open view is important, and pleasant to the eye, so I flip the brand label facing up on each ball in the carton to avoid any confusion. I also make it easy for my clients by having business cards handy after every purchase. It is likely that clients will forget the website address and my phone number, so I have all of my key information on the cards. Making things easy for your clientele is crucial because people are turned off when they see disorganization and laziness.
Knowing the tastes each individual buyer has for brands of golf balls is another key aspect of client retention. Some clients I have don’t mind what condition the balls are in, and others expect mint conditioned balls. One of my clients, Todd, who has been buying balls from me for years, has never complained about the condition of the balls. Todd is an easygoing guy who understands he is getting a phenomenal deal. He trusts me now to a point where he doesn’t even look at the balls he’s buying, and promptly gives the money owed. Transactions with Todd are pretty quick. I learned that it needs to be that way with him because Todd is always in a rush. This is where those notes I previously mentioned play a major role in client retention. On the other hand, there are some clients who are very picky about the condition of the golf balls and expect them to be nearly perfect. In particular, a client named Jeb examines every single ball he buys. This can be frustrating at times, but he never tries to negotiate, and is willing to pay a premium for the top quality balls. I usually keep two or three mint conditioned golf balls in my pocket to offer him as replacements, because I know from my notes that he is bound to reject a couple of golf balls each sale.
The last key aspect of client retention is to know your client’s schedule. It is important to know what kind of job your client has, and if he is usually in a rush. I know to budget a little extra time in my schedule if the client likes to chat. For example, many of my clients are doctors, lawyers or businessmen, who don’t have much time to go through a lengthy transaction. When I see that my notes say that they are usually in a rush, I make sure that I am ready for a quick presentation. I also know that these people have families and spending a lot of time buying used golf balls is not something high on their priority list. I know that these clients appreciate efficiency and it’s one of the reasons they keep coming back to purchase golf balls from me. Hopefully I can make their experience buying from me more pleasant than walking into a retail store.
In any business, having an effective way to retain your clients is crucial. It is key to know your buyer and to cater to his or her needs. Strong communication with a client is an excellent way to start. Having strong communication makes it easy to understand your client’s habits, tastes, and schedule. Making things easy for your clients is essential to growing a flourishing business. Clients appreciate efficiency because, in the end, it makes a small piece of their life they shouldn’t have to worry about a whole lot easier.
Evan Ruccolo is an eleventh grade student at Saint John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts. He is the proprietor of the Boston Area Golf Group.