Most remodeling contractors I meet with want to back up their work and generally offer some kind of full-service warranty, usually for one year, although some will cover workmanship for up to five years.
When I ask how often they actually call on past clients during the one-year warranty period, the answer is usually the same: they don’t. Unless that client calls with a problem, none of the remodelers actively contact past clients to check in.
Most say they are too busy, but I got a candid response from a salesperson that seemed to sum up the issue. He told me that he didn’t call past clients because he had moved on to the next sale. His commissions and future income depended on the sale of future projects, the bigger the better. He had little interest in following up on maintenance items once a project was completed.
I get it. Everyone wants to move onto the next project. What we tend to forget, however, is that unless we remodeled the entire house, the rest of that client’s home is now a candidate for additional work. We’ve made the hardest sale—the first one. The easiest marketing we can do is to build on that relationship with a formal warranty program that proactively schedules follow-up visits at the time we make the sale.
On the surface, the purpose of the follow-up is to make sure all of the work you did is still functioning as intended. It also demonstrates reliability and professionalism. Given remodelers’ reputation for failing to show up, it impresses homeowners when you take the initiative to schedule a return visit.
But the real purpose is to create opportunities to meet with past clients to begin to identify future work. Two follow-up visits at, say, 180 and 360 days should be enough. One remodeler in Boulder, Colo., actually schedules three warranty visits.
About a week before the time for a follow-up warranty visit, send an email to let your client know. Keep it simple, something like this:
“I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to remind you that our 180-day warranty follow-up visit is coming up. We would like to send someone to test the smoke alarms, do minor paint touch-ups, inspect the caulk and grout, and just make sure everything is OK. Please let me know what times next week works for you and we will make it happen.”
This simple follow-up accomplishes a lot. First, it keeps the promise you made when you sold the job. Instead of disappearing after getting the final check, you’re coming back. Not only that, you’re coming back to do more work for free. That’s irresistible to most homeowners, some of whom will prepare a short list of items that need attention. In fact, it’s better for you if they do have a list because it validates the need for the visit. Do that work with a smile, and I guarantee that the homeowners will tell half the neighborhood. (In future columns, I’ll talk more about what qualifies as warranty work and what doesn’t, and how to talk with clients about the difference.)
Most importantly, you get an invitation to return to your client’s home to reengage them in a meaningful way. And it keeps you and your company uppermost in your clients’ minds when the need for a bigger project arises. Manage those relationships, and the work will follow! PR
David Lupberger has been in the remodeling industry for more than 20 years and is author of Managing the Emotional Homeowner, The Remodelers Turnkey Program, and The Home Asset Management Plan. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 303.442.3702.