As a small agency on Main Street in Bangor, I honestly thought that my days of serving my long-standing client were numbered. He called me in May, asking for a meeting at his office to discuss the future of our contract and how my services compared to my giant opponent. At the meeting, he kindly received me as usual, and allowed me to make my case. He explained that he was going to Boston in a few days to meet with other franchisees and the other marketing agency. Before he let me go, however, he assured me that he was happy with the services we had delivered for the past three years, and that he was “very loyal to the people who helped [him] grow.” We shook hands and agreed to be in touch in a couple of weeks.
During my drive back to Bangor, I kept thinking about his last words and reassured myself that I still had a fighting chance. We exchanged several calls and emails over the next few weeks. Then, this week, he called me asking me to renew his annual contract, which would expire at the end of this month. He told me on the phone that although the bidding procedure had been an interesting experience for him, he had realized in the process that he was already surrounded by highly capable professionals, and because of that, he had no reason to seek services elsewhere.
Most organizations renew contracts on a daily basis. Some do it so often that they even send automatic renewals to their clients (my insurance agency comes to mind when I think of this impersonal practice). If we stop to think about it, our clients have a choice too: They can walk away at any time.
In my opinion, competition is the best kind of reality check. If a long-standing client leaves my business, it is obvious to me that I have failed to meet their expectations on some level. Good customers stick around, and at times they even forgive performance shortcomings. However, as paying customers, they don’t have to be forgiving; they can be selective.
I still haven’t drafted my client’s new contract yet, but I made sure to send him a wine basket thanking him for his amazing vote of confidence and loyalty. To me, every time I renew a contract, I have a little party inside of me singing, “You go, girl, keep up with the hard work!” And to other business owners, I can’t help but ask: How important is a contract renewal to you?
Cíntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at www.pulsemarketingagency.com.