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Beyond Groupon: Strategies For Long-Term Customer Loyalty
CNBC.com | November 30, 2011 | 03:35 PM EST

The key to growing a healthy business in a tough economy is to have a base of repeat customers providing a steady stream of revenues. That was the promise of daily deals sites such as Groupon and Living Social.

And while many small businesses have sought new avenues of exposure through such sites, some have found that such campaigns attract bargain-hungry consumers who use their coupons and never return, leaving small business owners short of both stock and cash.

Are there better ways to generate customer loyalty? We asked small business owners to tell us their best strategies for bringing in customers and keeping them coming back. While some of these tactics are tried and true, don't discount them. Good, old-fashioned customer service is what can differentiate your business from the big guys.

Offer a cash discount. Credit card processing fees can eat into your profits. Let your customers know that if they pay with cash, you will pass the savings on to them. Gas stations have routinely done this, typically offering discounts such as 10 cents less per gallon. Now, restaurants, dry cleaners and other service businesses are getting in on the action, offering flat or percentage-based discounts. For example, some therapists at Massage Works Healing Center in Littleton, Colo., will take $5 off a treatment for cash payments.

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