Don’t Wait On The Weather To Market Your Business
Do you do it, too? First, I’m not talking about the marketing of things that read the temperature. I’m talking about contractors who “wait” on the weather to bring them leads. Or worse, those who answer, “How’s business?” with a weather report that begins with… “Well, it hasn’t really gotten hot yet so…” Tragic.
Sure, your business is weather related, but if it’s weather dependent, you have a significant marketing problem. How are you supposed to run a reliable business, to pay reliable employees and yourself if you’re counting on something as laughably unreliable as the weather? Take all the time you need to answer that.
Also, if you’re not doing much marketing, and your competition isn’t doing any, I guess this means all those phone calls pouring in to all the HVAC contractors in town are each company’s very own personal customer list, right? Hardly.
Of the calls you’re getting, 60-65% had better be from your customers. Since service calls dominate the incoming leads during peak season, your sales leads will probably be more from breakdown than from current marketing. So far so good.
However, that leaves 35-40% out there in the market, looking for someone to fix or replace their system.
Who are these people?
Well, about 55% of the above “lookers” are customers who migrated from other contractors. Yep, these come from contractors who let customers just walk off and leave! (Translation: They made no retention effort. They just “hoped” the customers remained as theirs.) Sadly, that contractor still “thinks” these are his customers.
About 16% of the lookers got an ad or offer and responded. These folks were plucked right off the database of another contractor, too.
Add that up and nearly ¾ of all the “lookers” have come shopping from other contractors’ databases, looking to you for help. Great news, right? Only partially…
See, if you’re getting 35-40% of your calls (lookers) from contractors without a customer retention program, then why isn’t the same thing happening to you? If you don’t have a retention program, then it likely is.
Oops. Yes, now I’m talking about you and your customers who are out calling these other contractors… instead of you. Now do you see why most contractors who “wait on the weather” also regularly complain that their business “has leveled out”? It’s not coincidence.
This is where letting the thermometer do your marketing is not such a great idea. You assume you don’t have to stay in front of your customers. You assume you’re “saving money” by not following a customer retention program. But if you’re not contacting your customer base or otherwise staying in front of them, you’re losing customers just like everyone else. I’ll venture that it’s costing you more than having the program would.
Now you know why you can stay busy all season and “assume” (there’s that word again) your customer files must be overflowing. But when you look at active customers and 24-month invoices, you detect the dreaded “flat sales syndrome.” In technical terms, your old customers have gone bye-bye. Along with them went their business, future business, and referrals.
Retention Marketing Can Change Your World
HVAC contractors are in the costly habit of servicing a customer once and then thinking they’ll “stay” as customers. Well, they do stay… right in the customer files, rarely if ever to hear from the contractor again. If they do, it’s generally to be sold something. That’s not a relationship; that’s an obligation. This habit is costing you a quiet fortune.
Customers come into the files fairly well announced, but they leave without a hint. You paid $275-325 to get them, yet virtually nothing to keep them. And once you lose a customer on a replacement sale, he’s out of the market for at least 8 years. How much is that worth to you? If you think you’re “saving” money, think again.
Ask any salesperson at your company, and they’ll tell you that customers buy faster, accept the “upsell” more readily, and they refer more often. Your salesperson is right!
- Existing customer buying cycle is 45% faster than first-time buyer.
- Loyal customers spend 33% more than first-timers.
- Referrals among loyal customers are 107% greater than non-loyal.
- Rate of referral is highest when closest to the point of contact.
These numbers support the need for regular customer contact. Yet, customers aren’t getting that from most contractors. Only a small amount of contractors report having a year-round Customer Retention program.
In other words, you can clobber the majority if you’ll attempt it.
Look to the experts. Author of “Word of Mouth Marketing,” Jerry Wilson (whose books have sold in the millions) said that keeping customers is simply a matter of regular communication.
Jay Conrad Levinson of Guerilla Marketing fame said that a customer newsletter is “… the best Guerilla marketing tool on the planet.”
A well-run customer retention program has – at its centerpiece – a customer newsletter. They’re simple to use, quick, and customers keep them around. Best of all, if it is well written and not pure “advertising” like many, you’ll instantly forge a better image and strengthen the relationship. Better relationship equals better retention. Period.
Side benefit: Your competition probably doesn’t do one, so you’ll stand out even more if you do! Here are five rules your newsletter must comply with:
- Make it professional. If it looks amateur, then you look amateur.
- Don’t make it solely about heat and air. Why? You want to inform and entertain, not bore. Likewise, your other info helps position you as an “advisor” instead of a salesperson. Valuable distinction.
- Balance your information with sales copy. Your customers expect to read great info and be sold. Use a more familiar tone in your sales (“advisor”) and you’ll do great.
- Make them regular. Like exercising, it must be regular to build. Twice or four times a year is fine. Since you’re getting more customers, this is the one marketing area you want expenses to increase.
- Integrate it with your online marketing efforts by using QR codes that become coupons or deeper offers. (These are simple to do and make you look instantly more relevant.)
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