Rule #1. Provide consistency in the experience. Popular companies such as McDonald's, Starbucks and Nordstrom all understand the importance of consistency in service. With any of these companies, before you step into their stores you already have an expectation of what the experience will be. The top shops understand this rule, and that is why they have clearly defined procedures for everything they do, from handling the first-time caller, through car delivery. When customers feel there is no consistency in service, they will typically look for an alternative service provider. 

Rule #2. Create a principle-centered culture. All great companies realize that getting to the top, and staying at the top, is dependent on having a culture that is based on principles. As a business owner you need to ensure that you have a clearly defined Mission Statement, you need to share it with all of your employees, and you need to constantly keep it at the forefront of their minds. Remember, your "goals" are what you are going to accomplish, whereas your Mission Statement is what you will be doing along the way. For example, a Mission Statement could read, "It is the mission of Elite Auto Service to deliver extraordinary service to our customers and opportunity to our employees, while never compromising our ethics or our responsibility to society." 

Rule #3. Offer and deliver a good value. I am not suggesting that you be the lowest priced, or the highest priced in your community. What I am suggesting is that you deliver a good value in return for the money you charge. Companies that charge more than they should just because they can typically discover that their profits will go up in the short term, but that they lose their customer base at the same time. Great companies are competitive, not greedy and that is why they become, and remain, great companies.

Rule #4. Hire the Superstars. The success of your company, and your ability to retain customers over the years, will be dependent on the people who work with you. As I am sure you will agree, just being good is no longer good enough, so you need to have employees who truly are superstars. I can only hope you bear in mind that whenever someone buys a product, they will always remember the product, but whenever they buy a service, they will always remember the people providing the service. Simply put, your customers' impression of your business will only be as positive as their impression of the people who work with you.

Rule #5. Deliver on your promises. Hopefully you can see how this rule ties into your Mission Statement. If you want your customers to continue to return, then make sure that all of your employees choose their words carefully when they are making a commitment to your customers, and then ensure they move the earth to deliver on those promises. 

Rule #6. Never put money ahead of people. All world-class business owners understand that money is the result of doing the right things for the right reasons. When you embrace this rule, you will also discover why the world-class businesses will never take their customers for granted. They understand that it's the trust their customers have in them and their people that is priceless, not their credit cards.

In closing, there are a number of things you can do to improve your customer retention, but the one promise I can make you is this: These six rules are timeless ones, and if you apply them to your business, you will not only see more repeat customers, but you will be building a business that will last for generations to come.