Often times when I ask a business owner who their top 10 customers are, what type of margin they produce, and if those customers are doing more or less business than last year, I get a blank stare back. Or, “the sales manager has that data.” As a business owner, it is easy to get stuck in the “thick of thin things” and neglect the most important things, i.e., customer loyalty.
As management guru Peter Drucker once said, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” I help business owners identify, nurture, and keep their most valued customers. One of my mentors, a gentleman from San Francisco whom I knew in the mid-1990’s, had created a wonderfully successful $50 million business by obsessing over his top 50 customers. If a customer’s loyalty slipped to number 51 (by margin dollars), he would inform them they would not get the kid glove treatment of the top 50, and they needed to do more business with him. Talk about confidence! Most often people would ask what they needed to do to get into the top 50 again. I wouldn’t recommend the above to every business, but it is good food for thought.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have customers who won’t pay for the value you provide?
- Do you really want them as a customer?
- Do they get in the way of treating your best customers well?
This mentor of mine was very loyal to his best customers, delivered an exceptional experience, and they were loyal to him. They saw the value he provided and were willing to pay for it. Sounds like good business sense to me.