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When it comes to your c-store customers, what are you most grateful for? If you said “loyalty,” you’re on the right track. After all, you’ll spend six times more to attract a new customer than to keep an old one. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out where your time and money are best spent. To earn loyalty from your customers, you have to work at it from many angles. Creating repeat customers is a process that should be ingrained in every aspect of your company, from your training programs to your marketing campaigns.

Customer Loyalty Starts on the Street

Loyalty goes both ways. If you’re going to expect your customers to be loyal to you, then you have to show them you’re loyal to them, too. This goes beyond just offering a great value. Everyone is looking for a deal, and with already tight margins on most of your products, it’s tough to compete. Outside of price, the most influential way to maintain a loyal customer base is through relationships. Many of your customers live or work in your general area. Find out what makes them tick, and show your customers you’re in tune with the needs of the neighborhood. Follow these street-smart tips to improve customer loyalty:

  • Serve your community. Sponsor a school fundraiser, donate water for a local 5k event, or reach out to help those in need in your immediate neighborhood.
  • Go beyond the suggestion box. Engage your customers in conversations about the products and services you offer.
  • Create a focus group of your regular customers to test a new concept. Not only will this help your new idea be more successful, it will make your customers feel invested in your business.
  • Get personal. People like doing business with people they know and trust. Take time to personally reach out to your customers and make them feel welcome in your store.
  • Send thank you notes, real ones. When customers sign up to your loyalty program or achieve a certain level or reward, thank them the old fashioned way.

People are naturally driven to reciprocate positive (and negative) behavior. If you’re good to your customers, they’ll be good to you.