Getting repeat clients is the key to making a living from a creative career. Getting new clients each and every time is a long process, having to establish and build a relationship each time, with a new person, getting to know they;re needs and expectations every time you do a project can be time-consuming. It’s not about the work as much as it is about the value discovery, finding out their personality traits, how to talk to them, how to propose an idea to them and the language you use in your proposition.
It’s more efficient to have clients come back to you for repeat work. This is valuable for a number of reasons, mainly it’s a validation to you that the client liked your work and are happy to work with you again. Therefore you know that you hit their goals with the project and can take this into account the next time you approach a project. You know what you did right with the previous one, so you can repeat the process with the next one. It makes a project easier when you can discard the wrong things you know didn’t work with a client.
Besides the reason that the client has their trust in you with their project, other administrative benefits of working with the same client is that they have your details on record, your name comes to mind when they need a project done. They also know your process and are willing to go through it again, this is shows that your process of handling clients, getting paid, your timeframes, and communication with them is to the highest level. It’s not hard for them to get in touch with you, the expectation of how you work is in place along with the knowledge of how you work and how long it takes for you to complete the work. You also call the shots because you know how good they are at paying. What I mean by ‘how good they are’ is: if they pay fast, how long it takes them, or if they even paid at all. Also, they have the process of paying you in place. They have your bank details, making it easier for them to pay you.
This all sounds great, but how do you get clients to come back to you?
There are 2 key elements to getting repeat clients – Relationship, Quality.
It’s important to make the best first impression when establishing a relationship. Being open with the client is important. If you are in the middle of a project, tell them so. Have them go through your question on your site (I have talked about this in the past) and answer the questions as if you were not in a project right now.
When they have filled out the questionnaire, go through the value discovery process of the prospective project and [propose what you would do for the project in order to solve the clients problems. Even though you have explained to them that you are in the middle of a project, but still are wiling to research and discover a solution to their problem shows commitment to solving their problem even though you are unavailable now. This is going to be impactful for them. Go through the project with them as if you were starting it next week even though you have told them that you aren’t available for 4 weeks.
If they are happy with the proposal, then they will wait for you to become available. This is when you can mark them in your calendar for a start date. It’s important to go through the proposal and project before telling them that you are unavailable for several weeks first, before you say you are unavailable, this plants the seed of doubt in their mind first before the solution is provided. Making them weary to wait for you. But if you provide a positive experience for them first over the (somewhat) negative of not being available, they will more than likely be willing to wait for your services.
Sometimes a client won’t have that kind of time to wait for you to because available. More than likely they will as they may have experience in knowing the turnaround of a project and how long it takes to get a project off the ground and completed. Depending on the size of a client, be it a digital agency or a mom-and-pop, they will have different expectations of when a project is due and will have accounted for that.
This is where you ask on your questionnaire: What’s the reason why they choose to work specifically with you? Why are you the ones that they decided to approach for this particular project. What’s the value that you could bring to this project?
If it is the case that they want to get the project start immediately, how you respond should be to explain that your goals are to provide the best possible solution and experience to your existing client, and to continue doing this, you need to dedicate your time and focus to this goal. Then let them know what your earliest possible start time for their project is that they will receive the same level of care, time, focus and energy for their project. Reuse the words that they used in their questionnaire to show that you are listening to them and that you understand their needs.
Good clients are willing to wait for good work.
Do a phenomenal job on the first project with a new client, provide your unique quality in the work you do. This is why they came to them in first place. They came to you for a reason, and this is where you should reference the questionnaire to where they answered the question “Why would you like to work with me specifically?”.
They will know the quality of your work from your examples on your portfolio, and they will know how you approach each project from the case studies you displace on your site. The work speaks for itself. This is your unique value proposition and why they didn’t want to go to anyone else to do the work. They want your work, not someone else’s. This gives you unique value in what you do.
Design is subjective, but there is always an objective answer.
Give the client a reason to wait a few weeks for your availability for the project. The reason is your unique value proposition and the proposal that you provided them when they asked of your services at the beginning.