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It’s well-established that it’s easier to get a new design project from a past client than to land a project from a new client.
You can run a successful design business with only a few good recurring clients. It’s the 80/20 rule. 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. Therefore you must keep as many clients as you can.
For the first few years of my design business, I had less than a dozen clients, and less than a handful of those clients kept me busy on an ongoing basis.
According to Invesp, the probability of existing clients giving you work in the future is 60-70%, while the likelihood of getting work from new clients is 5-20%. So it’s easy to see why client retention is so necessary.
Clients know a talented graphic or web designer when they find one. But it takes more than being an excellent designer to keep them returning. I’ve said this many times on the podcast before. Clients prefer to work with a good designer they like rather than an amazing designer they don’t like.
The best way to keep your clients happy and coming back is to ensure they like you. And you do that by providing excellent service and building relationships with them.
It’s best to do everything possible to ensure your clients feel valued, appreciated, and satisfied with your services. Here are nine tips for doing just that and keeping your clients returning. And you’ll notice repetition as I go through them, as many of these tips play off each other.
Here are nine ways to make clients love working with you again and again. 1) Be Proactive Make sure your clients understand what they should expect from working with you. Be proactive and set expectations upfront, so there aren’t any surprises down the road.
Being proactive shows your professionalism and positions you as a leader instead of an order-taker. Clients will appreciate this and quickly learn to trust you.
Think about the entire relationship—you’re trying to land a client, not just a design project. And if you can change your mentality and think of them as partners instead of clients, you’ll find the relationship even easier to build.
Don’t fall into the trap of viewing client projects as transactional, one-off projects. Instead, think of them as long-term relationships.
Being proactive may also mean learning about your client and their industry. Do some homework and learn a little about them and their industry before meeting with them. Clients will appreciate your effort and are more likely to trust you with their project.
Don’t forget to keep in touch after the current project ends, as I discussed a couple of weeks ago in episode 303 about following up with dormant clients.
If you do a good job setting expectations at the start, many clients will return to you for future projects.
2) Be Honest It’s easy to tell clients what they want to hear, but delivering on those promises is much more challenging.
A good designer is honest with clients about their limitations and how they plan to work within those constraints. It’s ok to tell a client you don’t know something. It’s even better to show the client how you’ll overcome those shortcomings.
A good designer should be reliable enough to stick to their commitments. However, If you encounter any issues or setbacks during a project, be honest and let the client know. Clients want to work with someone they can trust and who will be truthful with them. If you are not honest with your clients, they will not return.
So be honest with them from the start. This means being upfront about your prices, services, policies, limitations and timelines. You should also be honest about any problems or concerns your clients may have.
If you are honest with your clients, they will appreciate it and will be more likely to come back to you. After all, h