For the last few years, I've been working with a reliable car service in LA.
Unfortunately, I've had to cut back on using them, driving myself to the airport to save clients precious dollars. I'm sure I'm not the only one doing this. The car service companies and their drivers must be suffering financially.
A few weeks ago, on a rare car service, I asked my favorite driver David if he and his family were getting by. His response was, "I'm OK, because I get a bunch of requests from customers." The other drivers, not nearly as likeable or knowledgeable as David, are suffering greatly.
When I thought about it later, and looked at my own business, I realized this was the secret to success in good and bad markets. Great service with good personality generates requests for encore performances. My speaking calendar is packed this year, as other speakers are slashing their fees. Why? I get requests, which keeps me busy. Almost half of my talks so far this year are repeat performances. David and I both rely on these requests to stay busy as the market for our services declines. I've been measuring my percentage of repeat business as a key service quality barometer for five years. As a result, I've been keenly aware of how I can deliver the WOW service that feeds that funnel.
Here is the takeaway: Build your business to make you one of a kind — requested by customers over all other alternatives. Measure your client mix and pay attention to repeat or threepeat customers. If you ever get too full of new business, watch out, because you are likely surfing a boom.
For more ideas on how to generate requests, check out Mark Sanborn's book, The Encore Effect.