If you run a service business, chances are you know what it means to hustle.

Coming up with quotes. Making sure you respond to calls and emails ASAP. The list goes on.

All of that hard work is totally worth it when you finally get paid, right?

But if you’re mostly dealing with one-off clients, that money in your bank account is bittersweet.

Because even if you do a stellar job on behalf of a client, you know that you might have to wait months before they call to book again.

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The key to avoiding the one-off client trap? Customer loyalty!

In this guide, we break down eight proven customer loyalty initiatives you can roll out ASAP to encourage more repeat clients and keep your calendar booming with fresh business.

1. Keep Your Clients’ Attention with Coupons

Listen: nobody can resist a good deal.

Although coupons might not be breaking news, they are a time-tested way to build up a base of loyal clients.

Here’s some food for thought: discounts and coupons are rated the number one factor in creating a stronger sense of customer loyalty.

Also consider that 64% of online consumers wait for offers, sales and promo codes before buying anything.

And so if you aren’t sending coupons to your would-be one-off clients, you’re likely leaving money on the table.

Thankfully, putting together digital coupons is a cinch thanks to apps like vCita.

For example, you can assemble email marketing promotions targeting your various clients in a matter of minutes. With pre-built, ready-to-use email marketing templates, you can create email promotions that make the most sense based on when they last did business with you.

Simplest way to win more business from existing clients

But it gets better. With vCita you can even set emails to be sent automatically to your clients on special occasions like their birthday or when you haven’t heard from them in a while and want to entice them back with a coupon code or a great offer.

Best software for sending automated email marketing campaigns

2. Run Seasonal Specials That Your Clients Can’t Resist

Many service businesses thrive on seasonal specials that are time-sensitive.

And hey, doing so is a smart move. This allows you to create a sense of urgency so your past clients can’t afford to sleep on your offers.

For example, a tree-trimming service might offer an early bird special for clients who book prior to when hurricane season is in full swing.

Likewise, a salon might offer a makeover special during homecoming and prom seasons.

Heck, even just offering a special as the seasons change is totally fair game.

How to easily create online coupon codes

Look at your business calendar and consider how you can spread out seasonal specials throughout the year as an excuse to continuously reach out to past clients with offers and deals.

3. Package Your Services to Encourage Long-Term Business

Customer loyalty is all about, well, loyalty.

That is, providing your clients with something in return for committing to your business long-term.

For most service businesses, this means finding ways to package your services to encourage more bookings and repeat visits throughout the year.

Here’s a good example from Oliver Mechanical Services. Although an HVAC service might be an annual service (if that) for many clients, packaging your services in tiers with a “care plan” and ongoing maintenance means more opportunities to do business.

Why you should sell packages and not one-off services

You might be surprised at how many clients are willing to pay top dollar for VIP treatment.

4. Make Your Clients Feel Like a Billion Bucks with a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a brilliant way to gamify the client experience and encourage consistent bookings from clients.

Don’t take our word for it, either: 81% of consumers say that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with someone.

Setting up a loyalty program might seem complicated but they don’t have to be.

As highlighted by Vet Success, a traditional loyalty program starts by tracking how much a client has spent or how often they’ve visited your business. Then, you provide a bonus discount or service in exchange for their loyalty.

How to create a loyalty program

Pretty simple, right? You don’t need a traditional punchcard to put together a loyalty program, either. For example, you can keep track of dollars spent or client visits in your CRM and provide rewards on a client-to-client basis. Just make sure they know about them!

If you’re a bit more tech-savvy and have the cash to spend, also consider loyalty program software is also an option. Below is an example of an SMS loyalty program from Candybar which does the legwork of tracking stamps and rewards.

Best customer loyalty software

5. Encourage Clients to Spread the Word with Refer-a-Friend Offers

Asking clients to give your business a shout-out might seem like a no-brainer.

But actually giving those clients something in return for doing so is low-hanging fruit that’s easy to overlook.

Recent statistics tell us that word-of-mouth is still as important as ever in the digital age. By giving your clients some sort of referral bonus, you can squeeze more out of your current base and bring in new business at the same time.

There are no hard and fast rules for creating a refer-a-friend program. This page from Mister Tree represents a more formal referral program that requires a sign-up in exchange for a $50 bonus.

How to create a refer a friend program

If you have a CRM such as vCita, you can also add client notes highlighting referred clients and dole out rewards that way, too.

6. Make a Lasting Impression on Your Clients

So much of customer loyalty means making a lasting impact on your clients.

In other words, it’s not just about a job-well-done. Even the smallest details and interactions with your clients could be the spark that encourages them to book with you long-term.

Questions. Compliments. Attention to detail.

Specifically, this recent report by SCORE highlights exactly what customers want and expect that local businesses aren’t always delivering:

  • Online reviews (for extra credibility)
  • Easy-to-use websites
  • Special offers for returning customers
  • Self-service (booking appointments and making payments online)
  • More frequent online communications like service and appointment reminders

If you’re ticking these boxes, you’ll be sure to build a returning client base that sings your praises. If you’re not, consider using a software like vCita that keeps your clients happy, informed, and on track at all times.

7. Score Reviews from Your Satisfied Customers

When a client takes the time to review your business, there’s a 99.9% chance they’ll be more than willing to book again and recommend you to others.

And if nothing else, having reviews plastered across Google, Facebook and additional review sites is some of the best advertising you can ask for.

How to get more reviews for your small business

By asking for reviews, you essentially confirm whether or not a client is interested in your services for the long haul. This can provide you peace of mind during future outreach as you already know they’d be happy to hear from you.

Speaking of outreach, vCita actually has review request templates already built-in to the platform. In other words, you can consistently ask for reviews from each and every one of your clients without having to message them manually.

How to get more reviews for your small business

Nice, right?

8. Suggest Follow-Up Services via Cross-selling and Upselling

Finally, consider services you can offer which serve as natural follow-ups for customers after a certain period of time.

Warranties. Complementary check-ups. You name it.

Upselling and cross-selling can be an absolute goldmine for service businesses. Simply make sure you follow-up with clients within a certain time-frame if they don’t re-book on their own.

Hint: automated reminders and follow-ups and vCita are a must-have for doing so!

For some inspiration and motivation for what effective follow-ups look like, check out cross-selling and upselling email templates to understand how you can reduce the one-offs in your pipeline.

And with that, we wrap up our guide to customer loyalty!

What Does Customer Loyalty Mean to Your Business?

Listen: working primarily with one-off clients can be frustrating.

We totally get it.

That’s why service business owners should emphasize customer loyalty rather than constantly chasing after new clients.

Trust us: doing so is totally worth it in the long-run.

With these tips and the help of tools like vCita, you can build meaningful relationships with your clients that’ll result in repeat, long-term business.