The average transaction at a big box “hardware” store is about $50. The oil changing service company gets about $40. Fast food these days is over $10. Coffee, if you can call a double-mocha half-split with one pump chai “coffee”, is about $6. Could any of these businesses exist without repeat customers? Obviously not. The HVAC industry can. We can’t only depend on service agreements for repeat business. There are millions of customer contacts every year where we maintain, service or sell something, do a good job, collect money, say thank you and walk away. Silly, isn’t it? As all retail businesses know, it’s far easier to sell something to a customer the second time than the first. Ron Smith says, “Get…and keep customers”. What can you do to keep them?
Here are the fundamentals the comfort advisor can do:
- Under-promise and over-deliver on your installation. Make sure every job is the best it can be. That begins the lifetime relationship.
- Go back after every installation and ensure your customer is highly satisfied. Ask for a testimonial. Ask for a referral. Present them with a thank you gift.
- Send them a thank you card personally signed by the owner. Include a note saying that you appreciate referrals.
- Train and manage your technicians to tell customers that everyone in your company appreciates their business on every maintenance and service call. Every one.
- Every year, on the anniversary of all new/replacement installations, send another thank you card. Include a note saying that you appreciate referrals.
Here’s what the best-in-class retail companies do:
- Real estate agents hire direct mail firms to send monthly postcards, letters, calendars, emails to their entire mailing lists. Why? Because they know they can’t rely on someone to remember them years after they bought one house and are getting ready to buy another. They keep their name in the front of their customers’ minds. And they ask for referrals.
- Oil change companies send reminder notices when they calculate you’re due for another change.
- Your dentist calls you every six months to remind you it’s time for a checkup.
- One of the fastest growing, most profitable HVAC contractors in the country achieved its growth with monthly mailings to every customer. They have been doing this for over 10 years.
I’m not suggesting that these old-school, guerilla-type tactics should be done instead of creating a great web site, keeping it optimized, building your Angie’s List rating, and so on. I am encouraging you to make sure that you don’t forget the power in consistently reaching out, sometimes personally, and frequently touching the customer with proven methods. This can still go a long way in keeping customers and creating repeat and new business.