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Successful small business owners know that it’s much easier to keep a current customer than to find a new one. It’s also less expensive. Attracting new customers requires lots of time and money spent on marketing campaigns involving everything from print advertisements to social media. Wouldn’t those financial resources be better used in other areas of your organisation?

If you follow the success of such massive companies like US company Best Buy, then the answer is obvious.  In 2013, Best Buy increased their customer loyalty rewards program from 4% to 5%. By implementing a few other changes to their customer service strategies along the way, the result was the company stock doubling in price in less than 12-months. Brings to mind that old metaphor – standing on the shoulders of giants. Small business owners can most certainly learn a thing or two from the biggest and best.

Customer loyalty programmes are inexpensive. 

Small business owners don’t have to copy the strategies of these larger corporations to achieve the same results. Thanks to the rising popularity of smartphone technology, digital rewards programmes are proving just as profitable. As potential customers pass by your local business several times throughout the week, they are far more likely to stop the car if you just sent them a discount coupon via their smartphone within the past 24-hours. You can also create loyalty programmes through online services like Irish based Bopzy or PunchTab that allow customers to earn points with each purchase.

Consider VIP benefits for an additional fee.

Another example of a customer loyalty programme is one that offers faster service or access to more products by way of an upfront fee. Amazon does this with its Prime membership, where customers gain instant access to movies immediately without a rental fee. They also get free shipping on a wide variety of products. Small business owners might offer the VIP treatment in any number of creative ways, based on their individual marketing niche.

Technology makes customer loyalty programmes easier.

Many owners of locally owned businesses fear that these types of rewards programmes come with a lot of manual bookkeeping requirements, tracking each customer’s numbers of points or visits to the store. However, today we are fortunate enough to be able to use simple digital apps to do these tasks for us. In fact, there are over twenty loyalty rewards apps for small business that are already on the market.

Big Red Cloud integrates with Clover, the point of sale and payment management system, which has an app store that allows you to sign up to an expanding number of loyalty reward programmes.

A repeat customer is one that keeps on giving. They are also far more likely to spread the word to their friends and family about your wonderful establishment, which cuts down on your marketing budget, too. Besides, having a long list of loyal, repeat regulars simply makes the daily grind so much more enjoyable, for the small business owner, the employees, and the loyal customers, as well.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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