All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Cara Saven, who gave us tips on how to keep your clients coming back to do more business with you.
Return business is essential to the growth and maintenance of any business. In the small, niche world of luxury wall décor, Cara says that client retention is not only an income generator for her business, but it also contributes to new business too.
Build relationships based on trust
Although Cara’s wall designs often end up on the walls of hotels and stylish homes, she works mostly with interior designers who partner with her to get the very best for their clients.
“Our key clients are interior designers who give us work. Our business serves hotel groups, corporate spaces and private clients who change their wall designs on average every five years,” explains Cara.
With a big gap between end-clients first experiencing Cara’s service and wall décor to their next meeting, she says the valuable relationships built with interior designers (with whom she works directly) bring a good mix of return business and new business.
Designers she has worked with before often use her services to decorate spaces for new clients. Looking after those relationships means she doesn’t have to work as hard to attract new clients.
Be honest about what you can and cannot do
Part of building the trust of your clients is delivering on what you’ve promised and although it doesn’t happen often, Cara says this also means being open about what you cannot deliver.
“Because many of our clients are familiar with our work and know exactly what we have to offer, it doesn’t often happen that a client asks for something we can’t deliver,” she explains.
Cara recalls what happened when a client asked her to install wall art in a way she knew would not be possible. “We explained this to the client and were honest about what was possible, but they insisted we try. As we expected, the project did not work out and we had to take down the wall art. We could have asked for full payment because we had said upfront that the installation would not work, but we didn’t. We lost out on that one job, but because of our honesty, we still have that client giving us business.”
The age of social media has changed how marketing and advertising work for small businesses. Social media offers worldwide reach at a fraction of the cost of mainstream advertising.
“Three years ago we completely rebranded our business and Instagram has been invaluable to this process. We use Instagram to showcase our products and what we can do and we’ve actually gained more clients from using the platform,” reveals Cara.
With a website showcasing the diversity of Cara’s offerings and an Instagram page where she not only displays her work but also interacts with prospective clients, Cara is growing her business and reaching international customers too.
Don’t be a jack of all trades, just the master of one
When considering expansion, many businesses consider diversifying their offerings and exploring other markets. For Cara diversifying looks very different.
Cara Saven Wall Design is very different from what it was 13 years ago, however, Cara has stayed true to creating bespoke wall design and décor – although, in her own way, she has diversified.
“We offer a very diverse variety of products, but they are all still wall art. We offer different applications and different takes on wall art and I don’t foresee us offering anything outside of that.”
Cara says she would prefer to master wall art and décor as it evolves and offer her clients more of what they want and expect from her.
Work with people who work like you
The quality, price and availability of your product influence how much business you do, but in a business that produces a bespoke product to a niche market, relationship building is a major part of your success.
Having built trusting relationships with her clients over the years, it is very important to Cara to work with a team that shares her business ethic and her values.
“The business is growing and so is our team, which is very scary for me,” she admits. “So far I have an amazing team and we work very well together because we share the same values. We all want the same things; we want to give the best quality work to our clients as quickly as possible. One of our mottos is ‘be quick but don’t hurry’. We’re an all-female team focused on getting the job done no matter what it takes,” she says.