If you’ve been in business for awhile, then you know there are times when you see steady growth and times when your business flatlines. There’s one way to revive your business growth quickly, and the big surprise is that it costs you nothing.

Small business owners are often quick to throw money at flatlining growth, thinking that more marketing and more advertising will make the difference. In fact, during down times, many consultants recommend increasing spending in these areas. You’ll often see consultants recommending expensive advertising and direct mail campaigns in the hopes of growing a business and increasing cashflow. But often, a business that’s flatlined can be fixed by looking in your own back yard.

The truth is that the most cost-effective and fastest way to grow your business without spending a dime is to keep the customers you have and reactivate past customers. Sound easy? Well, it’s probably easier than you think, but a little harder than it sounds. Let’s start with keeping the customers you have.

Keeping The Customers You Have

To keep your customers and clients, you’ll need to delight and thrill them with how great you are. To do that, start by listening. Listening is the most underrated and underutilized skill in your arsenal. If you listen carefully enough, your customers will tell you what they want from you. They’ll tell you exactly how to make them deliriously happy. It’s not rocket science. So listen. And when you hear what they want from you to be really delighted with you…ready for it? Go do that.

Another way to keep your customers and clients and to make them really happy is to do what you say you’ll do when you say you’re going to do it. Again, it sounds simple, but many people find follow-through to be quite difficult. It’s like any habit, though: the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Reactivating Inactive Customers

In every business, there are clients and customers who stopped buying. Maybe they got everything they needed from you, but it’s more likely that there were other ways you could’ve served them. For some reason, they decided not to continue giving you their money. The cheapest (and fastest) way to grow your business is to figure out why and to remedy the problem.

Sometimes that will mean surveying old customers. You can send an e-mail, a letter through snail mail, or heck, just call them. Tell them you’d like the chance to earn back their business and ask them what it will take. Then, do that and invite them back.

Sometimes you may have to jump through some hoops to get them back. Maybe you had an employee who was rude, or maybe you yourself failed your client or customer in some way. It’s up to you to find out what happened and remedy the problem. The truth is, whatever answer you get will help you in the long run, even in that particular customer doesn’t come back. You’ll have learned about a flaw in your business and have the chance to fix it before other clients are affected.

The fact is, growing your business doesn’t have to start with expensive marketing or advertising. Start in your own back yard by improving your relationships with your existing clients and customers, delighting them with your follow through, and then reactivate old clients. Your business will improve and grow, and you won’t have spent a dime.

Remember: It’s always cheaper to re-sign a former client rather than spend the time and effort courting a new client contract.

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