Leverage Your Client Base

Focus on customer service to help generate repeat and referral remodeling business

September 30, 2008
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Michael R. Morris

Editor in Chief

Past customers have officially regained their lofty status at the top of the heap of potential future clients.

When the economy was going well, a lot of remodelers I talked to were so intent on growing their business and finding new customers that they took their eye off the ball when it came to marketing to their past clients.

Unfortunately for many of you, not focusing on your existing client base included a loss of focus on customer service. And it's pretty difficult to build a successful marketing plan aimed at generating repeat and referral business when your clients don't love you.

Speaking of love, there's a great new book on this subject: “Loyalty is Love: How to Hold Clients Close for Life,” by Beverly Koehn. If customer service is a priority for you, I'd suggest you read it. Here's a taste:

“When the housing market plummets, companies try to stop the bleeding,” Beverly writes. “We cut back on training and customer care because we don't look at training and care as the heart of the business. It supplies our business with life. If you cut customer care in the recent economic cycle, did you first think how much business comes from treating customers as you would like to be treated?”

During this downturn is the perfect time to reconnect with your customers. Not only will this help you generate business with them now, it'll prepare you for great success when the market turns for the better.

At the Remodeling Show last month, I was glad to hear many remodelers I know say they already are making this shift in their business back to a focus on customer service and marketing to past clients.One large remodeling firm owner is having his salespeople fill in open slots on their calendar to make phone calls to all their past customers. It's not so much a sales call as a customer service call to ask if everything is going OK with the past work they performed and if there's any new service they can provide.

This strategy has generated a fair share of warranty work that had gone unreported, but it has also caused plenty of these customers to see the company in a new light (“Wow, they really care about me!”). And the company now has some new projects, too.

What strategies are you taking to leverage the relationship you have with these folks?

Contact me at michael.morris@reedbusiness.com or 630/288-8057

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