As BridgeClimb Sydney founder Paul Cave explains, getting new customers is easy. Encouraging them back again can be quite a different story.
It’s a common problem for many businesses – think tourist attractions, holiday destinations, bespoke services and customised product retailers for example – getting new customers is child’s play. But once you’ve made a sale, how do you encourage those same customers to come back again and again?
BridgeClimb Sydney epitomises this scenario. Many people around the world put climbing the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge on their bucket list. In fact, 3.6 million have now done so. However once that bucket list item is ticked off, how can the business encourage them back again?
For Paul, it comes down to reinventing your offering, so that no product or experience is identical every time.
“We opened the business just climbing during the daytime. Now we climb 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the nature of the experience is in the parts of the bridge you’re on,” explains Paul on the My Business Podcast.
BridgeClimb has also launched a range of different experiences to open up more areas of the bridge for viewing and to attract customers visiting Sydney for a particular festival, such as Vivid or Mardi Gras.
As well as creating different climbs, this has also enabled the business to appeal to a broader range of customers by catering to different price points.
Paul has these key tips for anyone in business wanting to turn one-time customers into repeat customers:
1. Give customers what they want
The very best thing you can do, explains Paul, is to gather feedback from your customers. Ask for suggestions on improving your offering, and if there is anything missing. This is a great – and free – source of business development leads.
“We keep making changes to the system or the process or the experience because of feedback from customers where we’re looking for feedback whether they’re positive or negative. Really encouraging complaints, really encouraging that feedback because that’s gold,” says Paul.
“That’s very important for the way we run the business because we’re continually looking for change. We would make to that business three to four changes a fortnight, more than half of which have come from customers. And that has been the case since day one!”
2. Diversify your offering
“The way we can mould that experience is an important part of what becomes the feature of the climb,” Paul says.
This might involve expanding your operating hours, providing services that appeal to customers with different price expectations, or adding additional services.
In the case of BridgeClimb, this has meant adding climbs on the inner arch of the bridge, and providing handkerchiefs as part of the climber’s kit for hot weather or emotional moments.
3. Cater to special occasions
“We can have anything from a wedding, marriage proposal on the bridge, to someone celebrating a birthday, or all sorts of other events.”
Marriage proposals, for example, are an excellent means of achieving repeat business, as customers will often come back again to celebrate anniversaries at the place where it all began.
4. Provide bespoke offerings for niche markets
Chances are you may be able to identify particular niche interests among your overall customer base, and offering a less generalist experience can lead them to make return visits.
In Paul’s experience, one of these subgroups of customers are history buffs: “You’ve got some people that really want to climb, and they’ve got a fascination for knowledge about the technical parts of the bridge or history.”
As a means of catering to these, tour guides are encouraged to draw on their own stories and experiences as part of their commentary – including everything from familial links on those associated with the building or opening of the bridge, through to recent events with other tour groups.
Another example is the launch of a tour spoken in Mandarin to better capture the growing influx of Chinese tourists visiting Australia.
Hear more insights from Paul on his 10-year journey to establish BridgeClimb and the ongoing challenges of the iconic business on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.