If things are a little bit quieter at this time of year, it’s an ideal time to go through your records of new and old customers and tidy up your database.
Your customer database is one of the most valuable assets your business has got. Look after it.
Every wet leisure business will have a huge amount of information on its customers, past and present, and even people who have simply made an enquiry.
All those names and addresses are really valuable. They are actual individuals who have done business with you or at least showed an interest in what your business has to offer.
If it’s all gathered together in some form of system that makes it accessible and searchable it’s called a database. If it’s all over the place in boxes of old files, piles of old letters and emails lingering in your inbox, it’s called a mess.
Sorting through your records and, in particular, turning paper records into digital files can be time consuming but, once its done it will become a real asset to your business and potentially a highly effective marketing tool.
So why not spend an hour or so each day over this quieter season doing just that?
Where do I put them?
You want to get all those records into a program or application that is searchable, so either an Excel spreadsheet or a specific Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program.
There are many CRM packages available, they aren’t that expensive and many are designed with the small business in mind. Choose something that you will actually use rather than the most impressive sounding program.
The advantage of a CRM program is that it’s easily searchable, but only if when you put the records in, you know what you might want to later go searching for.
You might want to search by name, by a location or area, by product type (such as pool, spa or sauna) or by the date that they last did business with you.
In a way, this is the most important stage of setting up your database, knowing what you are going to use it for and how you are going to use it. Spend some time thinking about this because it will save you a lot of time later if you get it wrong or miss something out.
Each record will have a number of ‘fields’ and this is where you put the information and details that you might want to look up or search by later.
If the fields aren’t there, your search can’t be done.
The ‘paperless’ office.
In this day and age of computers, it is easy to think that everyone works in a paperless office, but its seldom true. And the longer you have been in business, the more paperwork you accumulate.
Getting enquiry letters and old invoices out of bulging box files and into a CRM system tidies up your office and helps you keep in touch with those customers and potential customers.
If your address book is still actually a book, then get all those records into the CRM program as well.
Other places that you might find records that you should input might be your email system and your accounting system.
When you start this process and follow it through, you’ll be surprised by just how many people your business ‘knows’.
So what do you do with all this data?
A good, well maintained and up-to-date database can help you maintain customer loyalty, it can help you increase profitability with cross selling and just getting to know your customers better can help you grow your wet leisure business.
The biggest and most successful businesses in the world put a huge amount of effort into their databases and into CRM marketing. In this instance, what works for them will work for you too.
The Data Protection Act.
There are laws regarding data that any business keeps and those laws apply to your business too.
Basically, the data must be accurate and up to date. It must be secure; that is it should be password protected and only accessible to people authorised to use it. You may use the data for marketing, but you can’t share or sell it to a third party.
Paper files and records are also covered by the Data Protection Act.