I’m currently in the midst of packing for an evening show in Fairfax, Virginia this weekend. This engagement was a direct result of a fantastic opportunity here in Atlanta last year. The person who booked me for that event called me back after joining a new organization and as a result, she is about to become one of the most important people in the operation of my business: a repeat client.
I took a look at the various engagements I’ve had over the course of the first quarter and realized something important: the most lucrative projects I’ve had this year have come from clients who have booked me before. Repeat clients kept me afloat when the economic storms were strongest, and they are propelling me to new goals as we all seek a much-needed economic recovery.
Taking a moment to look at my calendar made me do two things. First, I kicked myself for not acting more regularly and more effectively on the basic business principle that we all already know: keep communicating with your clients! Second, I decided that I need to promote some of my good new clients from “first timers” to “repeat client” status.
If you’ve ever managed a team, you know that some individuals are almost completely self-motivated. Some clients are the same way – they have vision, creativity, and are ready to go. These are the kinds of clients who call you without prompting, ready to float a new idea past you to see how you can help. It’s through these clients that I’ve gotten to leverage my magic, mentalism and speaking skills in a variety of less common settings such as meeting host, awards MC, and even a visiting imposter keynote speaker.
Most individuals, though, are not so self-directed and require some degree of hands-on management. Most repeat clients are like this, needing an occasional nudge and direct contact. Like any good team, they will come through time and time again when directed and managed wisely, but it’s up to you to help get them on the right track. (Note: You may want to check out my May 2010 article on Explorers, Expanders, and Exorcists for more information on various types of clients.)
This is where the “backward glance” becomes so valuable and important. It takes some management effort on your part (read that, “my part”) to convert past clients into repeat clients. A backward glance through the last month, quarter, or year of your calendar will show you that you have not yet gotten the full value of the work you’ve already done.
Mining the value of the clients on last year’s calendar will never completely take the place of developing new business, but the profitability minded performer remembers that it takes less effort and fewer resources to do more work for an existing client than it does to create a new one. Cars have large windshields to make it easy to see the road ahead, but they also have mirrors for very good reasons. So here’s my warning: the value of that client in your mirror is greater than it appears!
Many of us spent the last few months focusing on and implementing the things that we want to do differently in our lives and in our businesses this year. That’s great, but it may be worth remembering that there are some things we want to do again and again. Working many times for wonderful clients who know your work and have become advocates for you is something that never gets old.
Go promote some of your clients to a higher rank!