Many businesses are set up to offer a one-time type project, take my industry website design, almost all of these businesses are set up to charge for the design of a website and then they are on to the next client. This means that they don’t turn clients easily into long term clients and they work on a boom or bust type scenario, by either having too much work or hardly any. I used to work like this and I believe that if your business is isn’t already turning a lot of one off clients into long-term clients you need to look at how you are offering your services and how you are marketing them. If your clients are happy with your work but aren’t contracting you for long term work, or they often ask you to do one-off projects at the last minute, there may be something you can do in terms of your marketing plan to eliminate this issue and to give you continuous ongoing revenue.
Set the Stage for Not Taking Last-Minute One-Time Projects
When someone contacts you for a one-off project, it is important that you take it if it’s something you do well and you have the time to do it. However, you want to come across as somebody that is busy and that has a waiting list, in other words you are the prize and your potential clients have to work hard to secure your services. So you don’t want to seem too eager to take one-time projects. You want to say something to the effect of, “normally I don’t take on one-time projects but this looks interesting so I will make an exception if my availability works with your timeline.”
Set Up Coaching Packages to Stay “In Line”
Once you deliver the one-time project, make sure to provide a call to action to offer your customer a chance to stay in line for future projects by setting up a monthly contract. Remind them about how fortunate they were that you were to be able to do this project for them due to a cancellation or other reason for an opening in your schedule, and how that might not happen in the future. As a web designer you might offer a monthly maintenance package, as a consultant you might offer a coaching call or something, the important thing is to have something to offer a client immediately upon delivery of a one-off project.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
The truth is simple, if you do awesome work, are able to take charge and create a deliverable that blows your client’s mind, you are very likely to end up with a long-term contract with that client. However, you might need to take some extra steps to get there, your job is to figure these steps out and implement them in your marketing.
Interview Clients to Determine Future Needs
When talking to the client about their one-time project, be sure to talk to them about their entire business. Ask leading questions that encourage them to discuss with you the type of projects that they do on a regular basis so that you can figure out their future needs and so that you can offer packages that meet these needs from the onset.
Focus on Building Relationships
Remember that every client is more than a pay check. Every client is also a potential friend and it’s up to you to figure out how to build that relationship so that they want to call on you every time they have a project within your niche to complete, and where they trust your advice enough to have ongoing projects for you on a monthly basis.
Identify What You Can Do to Fill Future Needs
After your initial discussion and while working on the one-time project, think about how you can pitch to them, an ongoing contract that answers their future needs in a way that you are the one who is doing all the projects and they don’t hire someone else at the last minute, or worse, ask you to fix someone else’s mistakes.
Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse
When you finish the one-time project, it’s time to make them an offer they can’t refuse by letting them know the things you identified that they need done on a regular basis that your firm can handle. Don’t send them a proposal and ask for an answer, instead discuss it in person while you hand the proposal over and always ask for the order.
Always Follow Up If You Want Long-Term Clients
People get really busy and they mean to follow up but they just get tied up in their work and it’s not easy to ask for an order or give one, so people also get real busy doing anything but what is actually required. Just because someone doesn’t get back to you right away doesn’t mean they don’t want to work with you; it may mean that they simply got busy. You need to follow up with them and to ask outright for the order, ask a leading question if you like but assume the close.
Remember to focus all your correspondence with the client on what you can do to make their lives easier, make their business run smoother, help them avoid problems and so forth. It’s all about them, not you. If they get that from their interactions with you, they are very likely to hire you for a long-term contract. But, like most things you must ask for it and you’ll be surprise how easy it is to gain long-term clients.