Have you heard of the “feast or famine” cycle in business?
No? Well, a feast or famine situation is when there’s either too much or too little of something. For a virtual assistant and business owner, this means that at any given time, you can either have way more projects than you can handle or not enough. Neither scenario is ideal!
So, how can you try to overcome this feast or famine cycle in your business?
The simple answer: Repeat Customers.
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When you have repeat clients, you have more control over the amount of work you do AND a predictable income flow coming in so you can balance your bills each month. You don’t have to spend time continually searching for new projects.
So, how do you get and keep repeat work? Here’re some suggestions …
Do Your Very Best
“Do your very best” sounds like a “duh” statement, but you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to forget when you’re stressed or tackling a project that’s suddenly more than expected. You may be pressed for time to meet a deadline, or you may not be feeling your best.
But, if you don’t do an excellent job with the initial project, clients aren’t likely to hire you for additional ones.
Consider your first project with a new client an audition. If you don’t wow your director, you don’t get the recurring part!
You always want to bring your best work to the table so that next time they have a project, they think of you.
Meet Your Deadlines
When you don’t deliver on time, clients are less likely to give you repeat work. If there’s indeed an emergency or a valid reason that you can’t meet a deadline, let your client know as far in advance as you can.
Send an email or call them on the phone. Explain that you won’t be able to meet the deadline, but then suggest a new one. Ask your client if the new date would be satisfactory.
Even if you’ve had an urgent situation come up, you’ll still need to focus on meeting your client’s needs, so be sure to work out a doable new timeline.
When you approach clients in a way that’s still focused on getting their work done, most will be understanding and will still be open to working with you again.
Also, try adding some buffer time when you quote deadlines to your client. For example, if I know I can complete a transcription piece in 12 hours, I’ll ask the client to allow 24-48 hours just in case something comes up… like life.
Honest communication and respect are the foundation of a successful working relationship: essential for turning a client into a repeat customer.
Offer a Long-Term Arrangement
When you’ve completed a project that both you and your client enjoyed, ask them about working together again. Let your client know how much you loved working with them, then offer some suggestions about something that can benefit their business.
For example, you could say something like “I enjoyed setting up your social profiles. I can help you set up a schedule for posting your content if you’d like.”
Try not to be too pushy when you make your offer. Merely point out what you can do for your client and offer to help. Some clients will be all for it and want to start work immediately, while others may not be ready to hire you for another project just yet.
If the client isn’t ready to take you on for the next project right away, that’s alright; you’ve planted the seed.
Package Your Services
Another way to land more repeat customers is to create a package around your most popular services. If you’re a virtual assistant who specializes in social media management, then you could create a package where you upload X amount of social media updates for your clients.
Your clients will be more likely to hire you to do this task when they know how much you’ll charge. It makes it easy for them to look at their budget and determine if they can afford your services.
Related Post: How To Set Your Rates As a Freelance Virtual Assistant
When it comes to creating a package, try to look for a task or project that clients will need monthly, like blog content management or website plugin and backup updates. This way, your clients can continue to pay you month after month.
Give a Gift
Make yourself stand out by going the extra mile. Send a small gift or hand-written note (love those!) after you’ve completed an assignment with a great client. Nothing over-the-top, just something meaningful.
If you decide to send a gift, please make sure it’s appropriate for your client! Probably not the best idea to send earrings from Tiffany’s or the toy your kid got from her McD Happy Meal! Just kidding 😂, but you get what I mean.
You want to let them know you appreciate their faith in you and, once again, offer your services for any future business needs they may have.
Here’s a useful post about giving gifts to business owners.
Keep in Touch
You should keep in touch with every client you enjoyed working with. Maintaining the connection could mean joining their mailing list (if they have one) or checking in with them once-a-month or so. You don’t want to stalk them, but you do want them to remember you when they need some help.
Gaining a flow of repeat customer work can take some time so don’t give up. Keep offering exceptional service and let clients know that you’re available for more work in the future.