Christie Nightingale noticed last fall that her company, Premier Match, wasn't signing up the usual 20 to 25 new clients a month.
To woo the 30% who were dragging their feet, she dusted off her Recession Special, which offers a discount of 10% off the full year's membership of $6,500 to $25,000. She also offered, for the first time, six-month memberships for newbies. As a result, the company has been able to maintain its rate of new customers.
"Compared to the recession of 2001-02, I find this crisis to be a lot more intense," says Nightingale. "I'm hearing people don't even want to spend money on a date! When I noticed that we weren't making appointments after conducting phone interviews and discussing our normal rates, I decided to offer the Recession Special to everyone who called in, simply to get people to commit to setting appointments and join."
In these belt-tightening times, Premier Match isn't the only company that has had to find creative ways to get customers to commit. How loyal a client is could determine if you'll be in business next year. Here are nine tips on how to keep them coming back.
Foster a sense of community: To get people excited about going to Pilates on Fifth in New York City, owners Katherine and Kimberly Corp started a daily give-away contest in January. Every day, clients whose names are drawn can win things like stretch bands, free classes and free downloads from their UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com.
Make it special: Joining Wegmans Shoppers Club has its privileges. Introduced in 1990, the program has evolved from electronic discounts and faster checkouts to include a free subscription to Menu Magazine, which features dishes cooked by the supermarket's culinary team, and notification of new products.
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