Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part series about customer loyalty.
By Brian Schaeffer
In part one of this series, we discussed the importance of your existing customer base to your business and the beginning of how to blow that business up – in a good way. Now we will really delve into that.
First of all, if you don’t have a loyalty budget, you better create one because your competitors have a ‘new business’ budget that is honing in on your clientele.
Rewarding your customers and their behavior toward your business is a cheap way to combat the competition. You say, “How much do I allocate to loyalty?” I say, more than you do right now and if you have to take a chunk from the new business budget, do it! Allocating 2 percent of your gross to loyalty is not unreasonable.
Specific instance No. 1 — We have so many campgrounds (and dealers) that absolutely won’t offer a discount. They give every reason under the sun.
So, a repeat customer walks in and asks if you honor the ______ discount (you fill in the blank – Good Sam, AAA, Military, state guide, whatever) and your counter person says, “No, our discounts are built into our fantastic rate of $40 a night.” You proceed to check them in and hand them a guest guide and they are off to their site.
A few months later this same customer calls to book a site and you happen be full. They choose a competitor and the check in process goes like this. The competitor’s counter person says, “Do you have any discounts?” Most campers will bust out something or that counter person will probe – Good Sam, AAA, current or former military – but they will find a reason to give them a 10 percent discount off of the $50 nightly rate.
Then they will hand them a guest guide along with a little goodie bag that contains coupons for future stays, a special discount coupon for breakfast at a local restaurant and a premium incentive item (with the parks info on it) like a stress reducing talking head that says, “Relax, take it easy!” when you squeeze it. Then they’ll show the camper to their site.
Who wins this customer in the future?
They might go back to their old stomping grounds, but I doubt it. The new park made them feel special. In the movie, Pretty Woman, Richard Gere referred to this as sucking up! Park No. 2 won the sucking up battle, and probably the heart and future business of YOUR customer.
What’s the economic breakdown? The second park adjusted their rates upward so even after the discount they were still higher than park No. 1. They paid for the premium incentive item (about $2.50) and five minutes of the work camper’s time to escort them to a site (that’s another $1, assuming $12 an hour for a work camper).
Bottom line is that park No. 2 still nets more than park No. 1 — and they got a new customer because they treated them like royalty!
For the love of God, you have to collect an email and / or a cell number. The second a customer leaves your counter, they should get a personalized text or email that welcomes them to the park and reminds them of specials in your camp store or encourages them to visit the local businesses and attractions in the fabulous guest guide you had prepared just for them.
If nothing else, start to set up a re-visit. When they leave the park, they get another well-wishing communique and heartfelt thanks. This should all be standard operating procedure.
Losing a customer hurts and getting them back is very tough psychologically and financially. Once a customer “cheats on you” and likes it — and gets treated like royalty from the competition — good luck getting them back!
Now, in the scenario above, park No. 2 had a vacancy and park No. 1 didn’t. Could it be that being full most of the time has made us complacent and unwilling to make the customer feel very special?
How about pricing? Could park No. 2 have a lower occupancy, but be making more money per site than park No. 1? That seems like a win-win. We’ll explore that in the next edition of Campground Cache!