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Help with stress
Your business may be going along quite happily and then you lose a big customer. This may be as a result of something within your business (e.g. poor customer service) or it may be due to something completely outside of your control (e.g. government cut backs). Whatever the reason, if this happens to your business what can you do?
Here are some suggestions as to what you might want to do if you lose a big customer:
Stay calm. Losing a big customer is likely to significantly impact your business, so it will be easy to panic and get very stressed. Try and stay calm so that you can plan what you need to do next and start to take action to secure new customers.
Reassess your business plan and strategy. Think about what you want to achieve for your business in the short, medium and long term. This may have changed as a result of what has happened and you may need to carefully consider what you now want to achieve.
What can you learn from this experience? Reflect on what has happened and why it has happened. Consider the learning for your business. Maybe you have taken your eye off the business, you have become too dependent on a small number of customers and need to diversify or you haven't been marketing your business regularly to generate new customers.
How have you got customers in the past? Consider how you have marketed your business in the past and where your customers have come from (maybe from your website, referrals, press releases etc.). This will give you an idea as to what marketing you now need to do to replace the business you have lost.
Who are your warmest contacts? Think about all your business contacts and who you can contact to generate new business. Start with your warmest contacts, who will probably be your existing customers, your recent enquirers, clients who may not have used you for a while but who were happy with your business and other business contacts who you have been in touch with recently.
Who else can you contact? What does your business specialise in? What type of companies have you worked with in the past? Identify similar companies that you can approach for business.
Be creative. You need to generate ideas as to what you can do. Spend some time brainstorming either on your own, with your team or with some outside help. Ask your contacts for ideas as to what to do.
Make a plan. Decide on what you now need to do to secure new business and plan out what you are going to do. You may also need to review your cost structure to ensure that it is appropriate for where your business now is.
Start marketing your business or increase your marketing. Now you have identified your warmest contacts, the type of marketing that works for your business and planned out what you need to do, start to market your business or to increase your marketing activity.
Ask for referrals. You often forget to ask your satisfied customers for referrals, but people are usually only too happy to recommend your business to other businesses if they are happy with the service.
Focus on customer service. When you lose a big customer it is easy to get stressed and diverted away from your other customers. Don't forgot your existing customers, make sure you provide a high level of service to them.
Be efficient in your follow up of enquiries. If you are trying to generate new business you will need to stand out from the competition. Ensure you follow up all enquiries promptly and efficiently.
Take action. If you don't do anything your business will be in a serious situation so it is important to take action. Also taking action will help you to calm down.
Be positive. Remind yourself of the strengths of you and your business. Think about your past successes. You have generated new customers before so there is no reason you cannot do it again.
Ask for help. It is at times like these when you have a major change to your business that you may need to use some outside help. Think about who may be able to assist you and approach them for help.
Being faced with losing a big customer is very daunting and potentially very disruptive for your business. However, hopefully if you are ever faced with this situation these tips will help you ride the storm and come out the other side with your business in much better shape.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: July 2010
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
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