Success Group International
Your customers are the most valuable asset your business has, not because they are your source of revenue, but because they see your service through skeptical eyes. Being that you are so intensely involved in your business, it’s easy to lose sight of what you do right, what you do wrong, and the fact that you are in a relationship with each and every customer. And just like any other relationship, work needs to be done to make it fulfilling for the homeowner and profitable for the contractor.
This particular relationship is different because one side, the customer, has most of the information, and you, the contractor, need to do your part to secure it. This information can be the key to even more profits from sources old and new, club members, and potential customers alike. Here’s a look at what you should ask your clients for, how to do it, and how to apply your newly acquired knowledge to operate your business better, build strong customer relationships, and hopefully in the end, grow more profitable.
1. Can I have your email address?
We’re past the point of this becoming important, it already is. For many, this is the primary way they communicate with anyone or anything not in their inner circle of friends or family. It has surpassed direct mail as the best way of staying in front of clients. Be a little more creative when asking for addresses; however, people don’t just give them out to anyone who asks. Ask for it when they book an appointment saying you will send status updates. Ask for it on the invoice saying you will follow up to make sure all is working like it should. Tell them you will provide offers, discounts, valuable safety, and money saving information only available through email.
2. What dictates how often we have the opportunity to serve you?
Often, if you have a well organized and managed computer system, you can go through your database and locate customers based on how frequently you serve them. A good task for CSRs to take on is calling customers in certain groups whether it be a one-time service customer, one call every year, or longer, and ask why they prefer service as frequently or infrequently as they do. You can use their answers to find what customers use your service the most, what they don’t like, and why those who have only called once may have switched contractors. This is actionable information you can use to emphasize the good and fix the bad in your operation.
3. Would you be willing to share a review about our recent visit to your home?
Positive customer reviews can write your marketing for you. To get these, you can email a client just after your service. You can ask for it on the back of an invoice or while in the home. Do your best to get as many as you can, as they will directly influence people’s decision to use you.
4. Have you heard about our club memberships?
Club memberships are invaluable because club members are your most loyal customers. In the hopes of acquiring more of them, you should take every opportunity to ask any customer you serve if they know about the offering. An effective way to ask is to frame the question using the benefits. Do you want complementary checkups that will help prevent breakdowns and costly repairs? Would you like priority scheduling? Would discounts on every service we provide you be something you are interested in? Customers can’t really say no to any of these questions. Your foot is in the door, and you’re on your way to building a robust, profit-producing club.
5. What’s your dog’s name?
When’s your birthday? How old are your kids? Oh, you’re a hunter? You’ve been married a long time; how long again? Questions like these usually are presented more informally and while in the home. The answers are valuable tools in maintaining a strong relationship with customers. Make note of tidbits like these that come up in conversation and use them next time you are in the home or on the phone. You can also use events that they share with you to send them a note or email congratulating them or wishing them a good day. Customers will experience that “wow” moment when you drop a name or remember a date, and every one of these moments can build loyalty.
6. How can we improve?
It can be tough to muster the guts to ask, but you can bet the answer is something that didn’t just go wrong on that one call, but may be happening often across the board. It’s likely something not being trained properly. Here’s your chance to train it, refocus, whatever needs to be done. You’ll improve each call and you’ll improve your company.
About the Author: Paul Riddle, Vice President, Success Group International
Paul Riddle has over 25 years of hands‐on experience as GM, COO, CEO, and owner of service companies specifically in the mechanical and restoration segments. Throughout his career, he has personally trained the owners and employees of hundreds of businesses, including several turnaround situations. His hands‐on training for owners and their employees has been in the areas of business planning, sales & marketing, and company culture. Paul enjoys applying his knowledge and experience working directly with business owners and their employees to increase profits, improve the company’s present value, and unlock the intrinsic value of the business when sold. Paul joined SGI in 2009 as the VP of Operations.