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How to Turn a Single Sale Into a Lasting Relationship

Looking for return customers? Start treating your clients like people you care about


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Courting a customer for the first time can be a difficult feat, but getting them to return to you time and time again is even harder. The Event Services team at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts hosts plenty of once-in-a-lifetime parties, including weddings and bar mitzvahs. But for recurring events like annual galas, fundraisers and expos, securing a happy client can lead to a meaningful partnership that goes beyond a single transaction. Like any relationship, here is how to work together to create something with real, lasting power.

DISCOVER WAYS TO COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER

While multiple businesses may offer similar services as yours, search for special connections that can set you apart with each individual client.

“We have a solid understanding of our mission and theirs, so we can discover how to mesh them together,” says DCPA Events Manager Tara Miller.

Putting in the effort to treat your client like more than a paycheck will pay off for both of you.

“We’re able to elevate our client’s clout and brand recognition while improving our own through positive reviews and word of mouth,” said Director of DCPA Event Services Dawn Williams.

If you can, incentivize working with clients that complement you, like how Williams’ team offers an $800 discount off room rentals to fellow nonprofits in the area.

KEEP YOUR RELATIONSHIP FRESH

Just because you’ve secured a returning client doesn’t mean you should deliver the same product or experience every time.

“Our biggest challenge is to come up with something new and different every year,” says Seawell Ballroom Technical Director Brook Nichols. “Clients want a unique quality to their events, and neither of us want to repeat the same things.”

Push yourself to improve with every interaction so there’s always something exciting to keep the relationship fresh.

“Our partners expect something amazing from us and we deliver over and over again,” said Williams.

WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU TRUST

If your clients can trust your network of vendors and partnerships, they’ll have even more reason to put their faith in you.

“Our vendor partners are those that respect our time, our staff, the room and our events,” says Williams. “We build real friendships with the people we work with, so it really means something to be featured as a part of our Vendor Collection.”

When your guest knows that every step of their process with you and the people you hire will be seamless and successful, they’ll know what to expect when they hire you for future endeavors.

LET THE PAST SHAPE THE FUTURE

Give yourself the leg-up when dealing with repeat customers and record the details of your relationship.

“Keep track of your client and chronicle their experience – from the financials to the layout to the event itself – so anyone can help in the process when you work with them again,” says Miller.

Even if you’ve changed staffers or vendors in the time since you’ve worked with your client, you’ll still be able to reference what worked and what didn’t in the past and pick up right where you left off. Managing the details also helps your client gain confidence in your capabilities and gives them even more reasons to trust you.

“Everything is supported in detail. If anyone has a question on an invoice, we have an answer,” says Event Services Business Manager Tara Wenger.

Be transparent with your customer and help them feel like they have agency over the decisions and budget.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

“Word of mouth is key, and we all know each other in Denver’s entertainment and hospitality world. Your reputation will get around,” says Williams.

No matter what industry you work in, a bad review is just as important as a good one. Err on the side of caution and have a Plan B or Plan C up your sleeve; but if something negative happens during your time with a client, do what you can to alleviate the issue as soon as possible. Most of the time, it’s showing how much you actually care that matters.

“We take our successes and failures personally,” says DCPA Events Manager Matt Leaver. “We all hurt over a failure, so we learn that much more from our mistakes.”

Things happen in events, so take responsibility and show others you’re actively working to improve yourself and your services.

Keeping any relationship healthy takes hard work, trust and understanding. But if you put in the extra effort with your client, you’ll both reap the benefits.

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