When I founded my fitness company (Hot Mama Health & Fitness), I don’t think I understood the importance of loyal clients. Loyalty was just an end result of hard work, wasn’t it? If I do a good job, people will be loyal. That’s a given, isn’t it? The answer? No, loyalty isn’t a given and a number of factors can pull a recently loyal client away from you. What I’m not certain of is whether our clients understand the impact of failing loyalty.
Competition is fierce in the fitness industry. Competition is fierce in most industries, but in the fitness industry…phew! But, one of the greatest things about Hot Mama is that we tend to have the most wonderfully loyal clients. It seems that once someone joins the community, they become loyal to Hot Mama and our programs quite quickly. It’s awesome. And, it speaks volumes about our franchise owners and the fact that people stick with them.
Recently, one of our franchise owners has been faced with (*gasp, cringe*) losing a client to another company. While it’s only a temporary loss (she’ll be back), it got me thinking that maybe people don’t understand the effect consumer decisions have on small business owners.
Let me enlighten you.
We all know that loyalty is a wonderful thing. But, when you’re a small business, it’s loyal clients that help you grow. It’s loyal clients that help you continue. It’s loyal clients that, truly, keep your doors open and allow you to continue pursuing your dream.
Loyalty of clients, when it comes to small business, is pretty dang critical to success.
It’s not often about the loss of revenue that bothers us when loyalty fails (although for businesses just starting out, that’s a large factor as well). It’s the loss of our client. When loyalty fails, we begin to wonder what’s wrong with our company, our services, our business. It can take up a lot of time and energy in our mind. And honestly, it becomes quite personal.
Why did she leave? Why did she choose to go to so-and-so instead? Did I do something wrong? What could I have done differently? Am I not good enough? OMG…AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH?
Even worse? When you tell us that our competitor is offering a discount, but you’ll be back next month when the discount is over: ouch. Seriously, ouch. You’re basically telling us that we’re not actually worth the money you’re saving for the month. That stings.
I understand the love of a good discount. I also understand financial constraints (I so understand financial constraints). While I do understand your desire to save money, please know your decision to take your business elsewhere effects us, right or wrong, emotionally. It makes us doubt our worth and to be honest, it can put a pretty sour taste in our mouth. Most small business owners give and give and give and our return is loyal clients. That’s pretty awesome. Except when loyalty fails. That’s the part that cuts.
As our business grows, we definitely get a thicker skin and these decisions don’t cause us to question ourselves as much. But, for new business owners…loyalty is everything. Losing a loyal client can rock our business boat and put doubt at the forefront of our mind. Don’t worry Newbie Business Owner…it gets easier. I’m not certain you’ll get to the place when the loss of a loyal client doesn’t sting at all (I’m certainly not there yet, but maybe someday), but the sting lessens and energy to heal it reduces.
I’ll leave you with two last messages…
A message to small business owners:
Losing a loyal client, if only for a month or so, can sting. I get it. I’ve felt it. Trust me, I know the feeling. But, it’s okay. Your loyal client wasn’t actually a loyal client. Lesson learned. And hey…don’t sweat it. You often lose a client who “will be back” because of financial reasons. We cannot fault them there. It can hurt a bit, but we cannot fault them. So, take a breath, feel what you need to feel and then get back to work. You still have oodles of loyal clients out there that deserve your undivided attention and energy. Focus there. Focus on your loyal clients and keep them that way. You got this.
A message to our loyal clients:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for sticking with us. We know you have other choices out there (I sound like WestJet). We know some places are less expensive. We know some places offer discounts or even get you there for free. And still, you choose us. My success is 100% due to loyal clients. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today, business-wise, without you. I cannot emphasize enough how important you have been to my success. Loyalty has been absolutely EVERYTHING. Without it, there would be no Hot Mama. Without your loyalty I would have let the voice in my head telling me “You’re not good enough. You can’t do this” rule my decisions and I would have quit. This I know for certain.
To all of the loyal clients out there…thank you. Not only are you helping us grow, you’re giving us confidence to keep pushing, digging and driving our businesses forward. That, in and of itself, is what I am most grateful for. A million times thank you.
Stay loyal, party people, you know we’ll make it worth it.