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A Lesson on Follow Up

When is the last time you looked over your past client list with an eye for who may need your service again? Do you regularly revisit those old files to search for future business? Have you established a good system for tracking previous jobs to prospect for repeat opportunities?

Today I received a note from a friend recounting his experience on following up with a previous client (thanks Chef Chip!). Chip told me that he keeps all of his old menus on his computer for future reference and recently came across a big job he did about this time last year. He e-mailed the clients to find out if they needed his service again this year. It turned out that they did!

There is a big lesson there that many of us could really benefit from. It is easier to win back (or win again) the business of previous clients than it is to earn the confidence of a new client. Your past clients already know about you, your fabulous food and fantastic service.

Unfortunately in this world of information overload, your past clients may have heard from a dozen of your competitors since you last provided then that food and service. It would be well worth your time and effort to keep in touch with every client who has used your service.

This can be accomplished by a quick e-mail to check in with them, by keeping them on a newsletter distribution list or by a quick phone call or note to remind them that you are still out there and interested in earning their future business.

Like Chef Chip, I also keep copies of all previous menus, contracts and invoices. I find that it is sometimes easier to refer to a previous document rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. I currently have these files grouped in folders by client.

To facilitate a periodic recall system, I plan to re-organize my files by naming and sorting them by the date of event as well as the client’s name. The new system should make it easy to generate a list of clients for a monthly, 6 month or yearly follow up contact.

Some events that your clients celebrate are tied to the calendar. Plan to make it a habit to go through your files once a month to see what you were doing a year ago, 2 years ago, etc that made you money.

Thank you, Chef Chip for sharing a great idea. If you are reading this and have a great marketing idea of your own, please let me know.

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