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How to keep your studio business open by recognizing the client life cycle

If you have a studio business, doubtless you want it to continue for decades to come. But if you don't understand the client life cycle then you'll soon be in trouble.

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If you have a recording studio business, then congratulations to you! It's a hard trick to pull off successfully when everyone has a pro-quality DAW at home.

But there are some types of recording that you really do need a professional environment for, with soundproofing and acoustic treatment too.

Having a studio is not the same as keeping a studio. Many businesses, of all kinds, do not fully appreciate the client life cycle.

When your business is new, you will spend a lot of time attracting clients. Some of those clients will be one-offs, others will come to appreciate the quality of what you do and come back again and again.

Gradually you will acquire more and more regular clients and they will provide most of your income.

You might come to view one-off clients as a bit of a nuisance. They don't understand how you work, they ask for unusual things, you're not sure whether they will pay on time etc.

Eventually you might find yourself working only with your group of regular clients.

Now let's look at things from the client's point of view...

Every client is a new client at the beginning of their relationship with your business. This is the 'birth' end of the client life cycle.

Eventually the client will become mature and will use your services again and again. It's win-win because you get regular income and the client gets a service of known and repeatable quality.

But eventually the client will 'age'. They might outgrow the service you can provide and be forced to go elsewhere. They might find a cheaper solution. They might go broke or otherwise go out of business. They might actually retire. This is the 'death' part of the client life cycle.

So if your business relies on a group of regular clients in the mature phase of their life cycle, you cannot expect this to go on forever. One by one they will drop off and die.

And now you are faced with the unfamiliar situation of having to attract new clients - something you perhaps have not done for years.

The solution, for any business, is never to rely on regular custom. You have to attract new clients all the time. There should be a regular cycle of birth-maturity-death among clients and you should expect and welcome it.

Many studio businesses have failed over the last ten years or so. In many cases this could be because they haven't understood the client life cycle properly.

By David Mellor Friday February 26, 2010
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