There always comes a point at any party when you realise numbers are thinning out. Various people, friends that perhaps you haven’t had a chance to talk to yet, seem to have gone — just walked out of the door without a by-your-leave or a thanks-for-having-me.
In Poland, according to a good friend of mine, they call this an English exit! I’m not sure whether this says more about our lack of manners or our inability to let our hair down.
But when you think about it, it’s what we do all the time as customers — we quietly slip away.
Hosting a party is a bit like running a business — there’s tons to do and you can’t be everywhere at once. But keeping your guests happy is vital — you can’t just conjure up a new bunch of friends just like that. And nor can you easily drum up new customers either.
So how do you keep them satisfied? Here are some lessons that you can apply to parties and your small business:
A hearty welcome isn’t enough
Guests arrive. You greet them effusively and lead them to the food and drink. You promise faithfully to catch up with them later. And then you forget all about them.
- Check in with customers regularly
Pay proper attention
A PR chap I used to know would greet everyone like a long lost friend while at the same time looking over their shoulder to see who else had arrived. Give everyone your full attention, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Don’t stand there with a glazed look on your face while you mentally tot up how long the booze is going to last.
- Focus on individual customers and listen to them
Do a party post-mortem
Why did so-and-so leave early? Was it the food? Was it something I said? Did they go on to another party? Don’t get paranoid — get in touch, say thanks for coming and review the night with them.
- Ask your customers for feedback
Don’t give up on people
One of your friends never showed. Perhaps they texted with a lame excuse. Perhaps they hate parties. Don’t be bitter. Suck it up and call them. Tell them they were missed, ask how they are, fix up a time to meet and look for other ways to connect with them.
- Don’t write off customers too quickly — find new ways to engage
Delight your guests
You can’t force people to stay. But don’t give them a reason to head for the door either — keep the food, drink and conversation flowing. Reward your friends’ loyalty. And check the exits!
- Make it hard for customers to leave you (but in a good way)
Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.