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Something for nothing; nice if you can get it.

Toll Brothers has reported its highest revenue since the recession of 2008. Check out this article in the New York Times.

Toll Brothers is a high end builder that focuses on the affluent customers. These are customers that make at least $100,000 a year and have impeccable credit.

“We are enjoying the most sustained demand we have experienced in over five years,” Toll’s chief executive, Douglas C. Yearley Jr., said in a statement. “The housing recovery is being driven by pent-up demand, very low interest rates and attractively priced homes.”

I wonder how much of this is really true.

Could it be that the market is changing?

Instead of three tiers, high, middle and low end are their only two: the high and the low end? I think this is the key.

The company said it was gaining market share as small and midsize private builders, its primary rivals, are strained for capital. Check out this blog.

Everyone I know is   coupon-clipping; it used to be a sign of those who couldn’t afford. Now it looks like smart people are hunting the aisles for bargains.

Pam Goodfellow, a columnist for Forbes and consumer insights director for BIGinsight, explored whether frugal consumers are indeed the new normal and pretty much agreed it was so. In July, BIGinsight asked 8,500 U.S. consumers if they thought the economy would ever rebound to what it was before the economic crisis. Among the respondents, 35.2 percent indicated “Yes,” 32.3 percent said, “No” and 32.6 percent were “Not Sure.” Okay, so everyone is cautious and for the most part cheap.

We’re back to the same problem, do you need the cheap customers? Stop trying to attract these cheap  new customers and entice your proven customers to buy again or refer you to other buyers.

If your town is small and you’ve sold everyone a widget it’s not time to close up and move on. Better you should talk with the customers that love you and ask for their advice on how you might get more of their business. Maybe you need other products or other services.

1.      Teach your sales staff to find what  your better customers want. Determine what products /or services you can sell that will entice your customers. Simple things in the flooring industry of course are carpet and rug cleaning, maintenance products or vacuum cleaners. Every time to mention these things people balk and say it’s too much work or they tried it before and it didn’t work. I try to explain it’s a different time, a different customer and maybe that will make a difference.

2.      Tell your customers what’s new and help them use your products. Everyone wants to know what’s new even if they don’t want to buy it. Show them how to save a buck by picking up their own merchandise or doing their own installation.

3.      Product demonstrations really help consumers buy. There’s a supermarket near my house that’s always cooking  something different or demonstrating a new kitchen gadget. How about doing the same? The holidays are coming  and your products might not have any holiday appeal so find something that does.

4.      What about a rewards program?

Everyone has a rewards program—why not have one? The Goodwill has a rewards program! One thing they have is a  special birthday discount.

Even a small business can have a rewards program. it can be as simple as a birthday gift or special discounts on your birthday. The danger is overloading people with discounts so they never shop your regular prices. This would be the kiss of death.

5.      If you can get free samples, give them to your customers

One of our malls has a cosmetic kiosk and they’re always giving away hand cream, soap or a face product. Why not get some of these to give away. Macy’s has lots of small perfume samples that they’ll give you if you buy some other things. The best thing to do is get to be friendly with one of the makeup artists and start begging for giveways! You might have the makeup artist come in and give some makeup lessons. There are tons of women who say they don’t know how to use makeup.

Getting new customers is not a bad thing. But it’s not the only way to get more sales and it’s the most difficult way. Try to get your present customers to like you better and refer you to their friends. For some other ideas to build customers check out About Small Business Canada.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal customers through customer service and sales training. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service, can be purchased through her web site, www.Lisbethcalandrino.com

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