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How to attract and retain customers on a budget

'A good customer experience is the most important part of the business'
Laura Panabianco, Pana's Performance Wheels and Tyres

Top tips

  • Respond to customer queries and requests daily and provide real time information 
  • Connect with the local community offline so people get to know your business
  • Generate positive word of mouth by providing a consistent customer experience.

A good business reputation

Pana’s Performance Wheels and Tyres is a small business in Hoppers Crossing. Run by Steve and Laura Panebianco, Pana's provides quality products and servicing in the automotive wheel and tyre industry.

In a short timeframe, Steve and Laura have drummed up an outstanding reputation. Laura shares some of the strategies they have used to keep the business growing – without spending a fortune.

Use Facebook rather than a website

Commissioning the development of a website can be costly and you have to upload content via a third party if you're not sure what you're doing. On the other hand, a Facebook account is free, easy to use and offers the ability to upload news on the fly. When initially looking at their options, Laura recalls, 'Some of the quotes we got for websites were quite extravagant. So we decided to use Facebook instead as it didn’t cost anything and helped us provide real-time information to our customers.'

Pana’s Facebook page is monitored daily, and is an efficient method of responding to customer queries and requests. Laura also promotes items on Gumtree, an auction website that makes listing and selling individual, small or niche products simple.

Devise a realistic offer to drum up business offline

Steve and Laura targeted a list of relevant local businesses that would most likely show an active interest in their services. They then contacted these businesses with an exclusive offer of a 30-day account. This account allowed holders to claim items with a reduced wait period, as they were able to pay for their products and servicing later. The offer was strengthened by the fact that Pana's has an extensive range of goods unmatched in the area.

Get involved with your local community

Pana's prides itself on being an active member of the community. Steve is the president of the local soccer team, ensuring he is fostering relationships with a diverse group of people with similar interests. In addition to this he works closely with local car enthusiast and racing groups – providing advice, fitting out their cars or just making new friends. 'We're also currently researching possible sponsorship agreements in order to assist the community financially', says Laura.

The result

Focusing on a providing a good customer experience and generating positive word of mouth is the most important way of bringing customers back as well as introducing new business. Laura says, ‘We always make sure we greet people at the door and offer them tea or coffee. And we give them friendly, open and honest advice, as we know that one bad experience can breed very quickly.'