Parking Wisdom: Client Retention – The Best Business Development Activity


Parking Wisdom: Client Retention – The Best Business Development Activity

Business Development (Sales) is the lifeblood of any organization. Similar to the impact of the transfer portal on college football, keeping your existing clients has never been more critical. 


What if you could add dozens of “sales” people to your team while keeping your current clients and income stream intact? The very best CRM tools on the market are happy existing clients. What if you also retained more locations?


This is critical (not unlike the aforementioned portal, again); your players (personnel) are also coming from one team and may be transferred to another in record time. How do we create a win-win through client retention and business development? It is more important than ever to have a relationship with each client that positions you well and creates happy clients. 


There are seven activities that create a path to turn virtually every client into a Business Development (Sales) advocate. This creates an environment where everyone wins! Your organization, your client, future clients, grow your business (and theirs) through the most profitable and most important potential clients: your current clients. 


It takes 2-4 new clients to provide the same net profit as ONE current client. This is such an easy thing to do. Learn the early warning signs in your current relationships, and how to retain clients and even grow your business. 


These tools provide proven strategies to retain clients and have them market your service to their peers, creating additional “sales” people. Happy clients, when asked, will assist you in fueling relationships, guarantee client retention, and grow your business.


Parking operators and equipment providers will benefit as well. Senior producers “transfer” on your team and your clients change. How do you lock in clients, protect your relationship, and grow your business? Consider seven (7) practices? 


The first of the seven practices is the most important, and the easiest. 


Practice One: Assume your competitor is chasing your best client and your most valued employee. 


As a consultant, it is interesting to me how many parking operators ignore their locations and their clients. They are surprised by a client’s decision to place their operation out to bid. 


Municipalities, airports, and most parking industry clients are required to bid every five years. There is no excuse for operators to not be aware of that requirement and (at a minimum) resume “selling” to clients in year four latest. A five-year contract is not a guaranteed term for you, as most contracts now have a 30-day out for convenience. 


Five-year term, government contract, or not, it is a major mistake to treat clients like they are “locked in” on any term. What do you do to insulate your business in this new reality?


When was the last time you had lunch, dinner, or even a serious meeting with your client? When was the last time you drove or walked your facility as if you were a competitor? Have you neglected your client, not sharing them with new bells and whistles because you are busy, or “they don’t like that kind of stuff”? When a new client or owner arrives, will they at least find a file of ideas and suggestions you sent them in writing?


A very good operator just lost a location principally because they had allowed their fees and costs to escalate during a five-year contract. A new property management firm became their client, and although they maintained a great local relationship, they didn’t consider a change in ownership would lead to a review of their current agreement and operation. 


The client was not unhappy. In fact, the review began with no discussion of an operator change. We were brought in to do a cursory review of the operation, assist with any new revenue streams, and a quick review of the numbers. 


As a courtesy, we shared with the operator a number of “opportunities” noticed in a one-hour meeting with the consultant and operator. The consultant shared their list, and did NOT share it with the client. It was a courtesy to the parking operator. Several months later, the owner of the facility (the client’s client) dropped in and independently questioned several of the “opportunities” that, in fact, were on the heads-up list the consultant had provided to the operator.


The property management client rehired the consultant. Although the incumbent operator was performing well, when the RFP responses came in, they were unable to explain why only after the RFP did they suddenly have a dozen new ideas. They ultimately lost the location.


They assumed because the client was happy, they didn’t need to provide their “A” game, nor respond to any of the “opportunities” from the consultant’s list. The new operator won with a higher management fee and a plan to address the opportunities.

Article contributed by:
John Oglesby, The Parking Whisperer
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