As you build your customer base, it’s important to keep in mind that the work doesn’t stop once you get that client to sign on for that one-time project. Once they’ve agreed to work with you there is a new opportunity to convert them to a sticky client — someone who will come back for more. This means more revenue for you and less time spent chasing down leads and pitching new work.
Whatever your area of expertise is, client retention is key to growing and maintaining your freelance business. Here are some hints for retaining clients.
Suggest continued service
Build a site? It will need maintenance. Write for their blog? They’ll need a post at least every week. Run their Instagram? Well, they’ll need someone to run the Twitter and the Facebook accounts, too.
Every industry comes with the opportunity for continued service. This benefits both you and your client — you don’t have to go chase down a new customer and they don’t have to find someone else when they realize that your project needs more development.
If they don’t bite at your initial suggestion for long-term service, you can build it into the contract by requiring they opt-in to regular maintenance, for example. You can also incorporate a retainer fee, which is paid before any work is done. This will help guarantee the client will request work from you and that you will be compensated.
Keep in touch, and ask for feedback
Your clients want to talk to you and you want them to trust you. Obviously, getting to know your client and their needs is incredibly important. It’s simple. If you are meeting their needs, they are more likely to extend your contract.
Asking for feedback at the end of a job can help you figure out what’s not working and adjust your business plan. This engagement will also show the client that you truly care about the service you provide. And if they leave good feedback, you can use it as testimonials on your site to convince the next potential client to hire you.
Offer discounts for repeated service
Everyone loves a good deal, even big businesses with funds to spare. There are many different pricing schemes and the best one for you will depend on your industry. While this might be difficult if you work hourly, you can leverage your other skills and throw in some extras. Clients want to believe they are getting their money’s worth.
While they might be asking you to build their site because they just don’t have time themselves, it’s also possible that they aren’t super knowledgeable about that area. If you are the fastest, most efficient web dev in the business and they don’t even know what a WordPress plugin is, then they probably don’t know your worth. It’s your job to tell them why your service is valuable.
Adapt to the industry
While it’s good to specialize in one or two things, it is also important that you are able to recognize trends for the benefit of yourself and your client. If you are running social media and you consider yourself an absolute expert with Instagram, maybe expand your skill set to include additional platforms. The more you can do for a client, the more they will value you.
Freelancing can be hard enough without worrying about finding your next client. With better client retention, you’ll be able to relax about where your next check will come from.