As I thought about what to write in this month's column, I began to think about the core of every business: the customer. Think about your past customers. How have they helped your business? Of course, they have contributed to your sales objectives, but I recommend you think of them as a customer for life, which can create a win-win relationship. If you do a quality remodel and give them a great customer experience, then they can become your biggest marketing ally.
Now more than ever, we in the remodeling industry need as many allies as we can get. With the current economic climate, we must take advantage of remarketing to our past customers as an inexpensive yet proven grassroots marketing tactic. Naturally, if your clients have chosen to do business with you, they typically know people like themselves who need similar work done to their homes. As the old saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
When considering ways to take advantage of grassroots marketing utilizing client relationships, ask yourself the following questions:
Am I staying in touch with my past clients?
Right now, remarketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics you could undertake. Staying in continuous contact with past clients allows you to maintain or build your brand in your market. In addition to sending mailings to past clients, find the time to actually call them. See if there are any current challenges or needs that you could solve or service. Perhaps right now they just have a small job, but they may have a longer-term need for a larger remodel.
How happy are your recent clients?
A good way to find out is through customer satisfaction surveys. Ideally, it is good to hire a third-party vendor that specializes in customer surveys; customers will be more candid with a third-party than they will with your staff or you. Yet, if you're like most in the industry now, you're looking at cutting expenses, not incurring new costs. If you do not have the budget to hire a third-party to facilitate the survey process, then I encourage you to at least do in-house surveys.
If you are already doing surveys, then you know the value the responses can be to your company. With the customer's permission, you can use their comments as a powerful marketing tool. And, if you find someone that is unhappy with their remodel and you go back to their house and resolve the issue, then they are likely to be one of your best referrals.
What happened to those leads that never closed?
If your phone is not ringing as much as it used to, take some time to go back and look at the leads that your team did not book. Now is the time to maximize what you already have around you. There may be some opportunities here to make a sale now or in the near future. Sometimes you will find that these prospective clients did not end up using one of your competitors — they simply put the project on hold. By following up, you can get an update of when and if they plan to begin their project.
Remember, when times are as challenging as they are now, it is easy to want to lower your profit margin to make a sale. What I have learned over time is that if a client is ready to do business with you, they will do so regardless of if you lower you margins. And, if they are not ready to get started on that remodeling project, it's rare that lowering your margins will turn them around. The clients you're going to lose, you're going to lose regardless.
As you and I continue to lead our companies, we must not forget the backbone of our business: our customers. There is great opportunity within our contact lists and all of those old customer files. This does take a commitment of time, because in addition to making phone calls to clients, you may also need to transfer old paper files to your computer to do mailings with ease. But, I can tell you, it's worth it.
I encourage you to be proactive and begin the remarketing process if you haven't already. It is time to get back to the basics and make sure we are fostering those client relationships, creating win-win relationships.
|Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|