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The Opportunity in Every Customer

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Customers do 100% of the buying. They also do 100% of the repeat buying. And they do about 100% of the referring. I realize this may be too simple and obvious for most of you, but you’d never guess it by what most HVAC contractors do.

A lost customer means that you cut off a prime source of future sales and referrals. And it’s a loss that carries on for the life of the sales he’s going to give and refer to your competition.

The fact is previous customers spend their money 33% faster than first-timers. They’re 40% more likely to buy the upsell offer. They’re 3 times more likely to refer others. And they cost 1/6 the amount to retain as they initially did to attract.

Think that through for a moment. You spend roughly $275-$325 in marketing costs to get a customer. You spend zero to watch him leave. When he “re-enters” the open market, you get to buy him again.

Every customer you have represents an opportunity for long-term service and profit. So, do you: a) openly attempt to drive them to your competition; b) not really do much after the sale; or c) use a strong retention program.

If my guess is correct, you smiled at “a,” you sheepishly admitted to “b,” but knew I wanted you to say “c,” which is of course the best answer.

Bad news of the day: If you do “b,” you may as well agree to “a” because your customer perceives “no contact” as “no relationship to lose,” so why stay with you? If you’re starting to get the point (and I hope you are), let me get to the bottom line: give your customers a reason to stay.

A strong customer retention program is as essential as any acquisition marketing you can do. The most successful ones are based on several elements:

Good Records – Your customer database is the most important data in your office. You should be able to mail to your customers instantly, knowing their purchase and service history. You can “tailor” messages accordingly without mailing “a great offer” to someone who just paid full price for same. Think “list segmentation,” not “one huge list.”

Maintenance Agreement Program – This is for customers only, so there’s no need to attempt to market maintenance agreements broadly. It would be costly and counterproductive. Non-customers don’t even know you; why should they enter a commitment with you? First, market for tune-ups; then when you get the lead, sell the maintenance agreement in person. (Called the ‘two-step’ process.) Same thing when you present the invoice for service or repair customers, you present your offer of undeniable savings and benefits, and sign them up.

Loyalty Bonus – “Discount Bucks” or other “pre-paid” services dissuade customer attrition. Coupons can work superbly. Wise marketers accept competitor’s coupons for dollars-off services. Why wouldn’t you?

Referral Program – Satisfied customers make up your strongest sales force. Product or service claims from them have instant credibility in the eyes of a prospect. And the results for you can be substantial. If every customer you have refers just one customer to you, you would double your customer base. “Customer gets a customer” is a smooth way to increase business, but it won’t happen if you don’t ask. Offer discounts for system purchases that includes referrals. Put all referrals on your list for…

Customer Retention Newsletter – A newsletter program is an automatic program 2-4 times a year that builds relationships and gently prods for all the above, plus more sales and huge retention. The best newsletter campaigns give customers rich, interesting information that is useful in helping your customers run their households safely and cost-efficiently.

Spice up your newsletter by using QR codes to link your offline and online worlds. These are an added benefit to your newsletter and can increase website traffic (SEO) and allow you to fit more quality content (how-to’s, energy saving tips, etc.) into your newsletter. Not to forget, adding an online tie-in allows you to use your newsletter content elsewhere.

Create social posts that link to your online articles. This will create a lot of qualified traffic to your online newsletter. Then, be sure to add some sort of ‘call-to-action’ so you can grab their information.

Customers only know you care in the same exact way anyone would know you care. You’ve got to tell them, show them, and prove it to them. A strong customer retention program is the tried-and-true method for doing just that.

Adams Hudson

Posted In: Sales & Marketing

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