It’s true of most businesses – customer retention is more profitable than customer acquisition. Getting new customers costs more time and money than keeping current customers happy and coming back for more.
With this in mind, one of the things to work towards as a freelancer is developing long-term relationships with clients. The less time you spend trying to find new clients, the more time you can spend on client work that actually makes you money.
Working with regular clients also keeps your income more stable and predictable, something that’s always a worry for freelancers needing to pay the bills.
Are you finding it difficult to keep clients on board? Here are some possible reasons for this.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing only what the client asks for and no more. While we wouldn’t recommend doing extra work for free, are you really going above and beyond with the quality of your work?
This is particularly true for those who already have repeat clients. Freelancers can get lazy and complacent and then wonder why the client suddenly leaves and new ones don’t stay around either.
It’s best to treat every piece of work as if you are applying for a new job (future contract). Your current work’s quality determines whether you’ll get work in the future. You may already know this is a one-off project but that client could also recommend you to others they know based on how well your work is received.
Some clients will be happy to leave the project in your hands, step away and say thanks at the end. Others will want to be a bit more hands-on and will need constant reassurance, updates and regular meetings.
If you’re difficult to reach or don’t offer this as part of your service as an option, it could leave clients worried and uncomfortable. Not answering emails is a red flag that might send clients in a panic if they’ve handed over money to you upfront.
Make sure you establish the terms of your working relationship at the start and have regular check-in times if required.
It may be no big deal to you but missing deadlines shows you’re unreliable and careless. This is even more worrisome if you don’t let your client know you’re not going to make the deadline.
Clients are depending on your work and usually have their own schedules to work within. Not turning in work on time might mean they’ll have to make alternative arrangements.
Treat every project as if the deadline determines your chance to work with them again (because it often does). It’s always best to under promise and over deliver so handing the client your work a few days before the deadline might be a better idea. This also gives you some breathing room if something unforeseen goes wrong in the meantime.
Your clients are almost always going to want to change something with your work. That doesn’t mean you’ve done it wrong or should take it personally. It just means that the client wants to have some input in their final product.
If you refuse to change the work, you’re putting clients in a tricky position. Either they’ll end up with work they’re not happy with or they’ll be forced to find someone else.
As long as the revision requests are reasonable and not an excuse to get extra work for free, then it pays to be open to changes. It’s their work and money after all and you are providing a service.
No follow up
Once you’ve finished a project with a client, don’t just sit there waiting for a phone call asking you to work for them again. The client may not even consider it if they’re not prompted. Some clients may see you as the go-to for one-off work and not even realise that you’re available to work on a recurring basis unless you tell them.
Make sure you follow up after some time has passed and offer your services again. You may even want to give a special deal for regular work to persuade them.
Are you struggling to get repeat business from clients? Why do you think that is? Let us know your thoughts.