What are the benefits of repeat business?


Choosing a home improvement professional demands consideration of a variety of factors including cost, availability, experience and reputation. When evaluating someone’s reputation, nothing informs a homeowner more than previous experience with that professional. Customers always rest easier knowing they’ve hired someone who has done good work in the past.

Beyond having peace of mind, working with the same professional may also offer other advantages.

Why We’re Asking:

When new home improvement jobs are few and far between, professionals look to the customers they’ve known for years to keep their businesses running. Likewise, when a homeowner needs something done right, they’ll look to the contractor, designer or architect that they’ve had good experiences with in the past. In order to maintain those relationships, some home improvement experts may give special treatment to their most valued customers.

To find out more about the advantages of repeat business, we’re turning to our panel of home improvement experts.

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

What are the benefits of repeat business?

What are the advantages of consistently working with the same professional?
Do you offer discounts for repeat customers or faster service?
How do you, as professionals, try to ensure that you establish long-term relationships with clients?
Are there times when you won’t work with a customer again?
What can customers do to keep good relationships with their favorite professional?

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!


  1. Referrals are the key to my business’ longevity, and most referrals always begin with the Relationship first, followed by the quality work that was completed for the project. In regards to working consistently with the same professionals for future projects and or referrals to friends and family for their project, from a Designer’s and Project perspective it keeps not only the relationship going without having to “Start Over”, but also makes the next phase of the projects run more efficient.

    Keeping the relationship between the Design professional and other professionals involved in a project when it comes to referrals and or the next phase of an existing client is paramount. By the time the completion of the first project has been reached, the important parts of the Communications, Expectations, and the overall Understanding between Client and Professional has been established. This allows for the next phase of
    the project to move forward in a more timely manner and in a more efficient manner.

    When it comes to the Project itself and all the items and details involved in getting the first project designed and built, working with the same Professional on the second phase projects just as in developing the relationship, also makes for a more cohesive and efficient process. Since the same Designer and project related Professionals fully know and understand not only the home or space that is going to be remodeled by having worked on the first phase, the Professionals also know and understand the overall Design elements and details so that in the end, the additional phases will seamlessly flow with the very first phase.

    In regards to the business end of the stick; I personally do not offer any discounts for repeat customers for my services other than not charging them a Design Retainer for each phase. I feel that my fees have been established for that project type based on the level of both time and detail required and why should it change just because it is another phase? Our service and Professionalism is the same, our costs are the same, and the time spent is the same, only the type of project and scope is different. It is one thing to establish a great working friendship with your client, it is a totally different thing to give away one’s Worth via a discount simply because it is repeat business.

    To ensure that we maintain strong and healthy relationships with our clients we make sure that we provide not just good, but Great Customer Service(s) Before, During, and After the sale and project completion. Every quarter we will follow up with past clients for up to the 1 year anniversary of their project completion just to check in; which also includes a project walk-through around the end of this period. After the first year, a simple phone call, email, or a card in the mail just to say hi and how are things.

    The only time we would not work with a client again is if there just happened to be something that went wrong or their was a breakdown in the relationship; no different than any other type of situation or relationship. Clients can really help in this process and maintain a great relationship with their Design Professionals by not only providing additional references and referrals but mainly to always keep the lines of communications open.

    In the end, Designers and Professionals that are a part of the Project Team are no different than the actual products selected for the project. It is the RELATIONSHIP(S) that are formed that make the entire process a successful and rewarding experience.

  2. Great question! In general, working w/the same design/construction professional will help speed the process as they should have a file with any & all previous projects. That way, style choices & home history will be available taking a lot of time off the front end of the project. Plus, you know how each other works. I do offer my repeat clients discounts on product offerings, workshops or “secret” specials that others on my list aren’t privy to.

    Establishing repeat clients is crucial to the viability of ANY business, as it costs less to keep a client than to attract a new one & the opportunity for referrals to further increase your business/list is an invaluable tool. Being professional, walking your talk & listening to the needs of your client & then solving their issue in respectful, ethical & timely manner all help to ensure repeat clients. And by listening, you can also keep an ear open for upcoming needs/wants (kitchen remodel, increasing family size/down-sizing…) which you should note in their file & then follow-up on.

    Yes, there are times when I’ve said “no” to working with someone initially & on another project. Clients who don’t pay or show up for appointments on time are 2 of the main reasons of when I’ll say “no” or offer other options for them to get their projects finished (i.e. other designers/constractors). Respect is a 2-way street, & if a client expects me to show up on time & be present at the appointment (i.e. not checking messages every 5 min), I expect the same in return-or they will be charged for additional time.

  3. From the perspective of a service professional:

    I like repeat clients! I like the ones that appreciate the service I provide and the ones that pay timely.
    • It saves me the acquisition cost of the new client.
    • My crew is familiar with them from having serviced them previously. They obviously had a good experience from the previous time, or they would not have called again to be serviced.
    • Since we are a cleaning and restoration firm, competition is fierce and people often go for the cheapest cleaner. We happen not to be the cheapest and thus it validates the value proposition that we put before our clients.
    • With repeat clients one builds a valuable relationship which extends to referrals and more business.
    • I approach my clients not a cleaner, but a solutions provider. I want them to call me not just for their carpet cleaning needs, but advise on anything that pertains to their home or business and the maintenance of their properties. This gives me the opportunity to serve them in more areas.
    • If I bring value to them, when there is a need for a vendor when they have a water damage or fire/smoke damage (where the scope of the work) is much more than Air-Duct cleaning, we both benefit from the repeat business.
    • When I have serviced a client before, I emotionally want to make sure they are a valued more. I appreciate their business more. It comes naturally to me.
    • I would gladly offer a better price to someone with I continually do business and have a relationship.

    To establish a better relationship with our clients, we follow-up after each job how they were served. We send them a Thank-you card after the follow-up call. If we have their e-Mail address, we will also send them a brief questionnaire to see how our service was with the simple question, if they would use us again or not.

    When clients do not pay for one reason or another, we will mark them not to be served again in our systems. Very few have called back over the years.

    From the perspective as a customer:

    I have a HVAC contractor who served me well last year. A few years back a plumber served me well. I have a “handy-man” who served me well. I pay these folks timely and they give me a great price. I use them in my business to serve my clients. Since I have established a good relationship with a few of these folks, they give a little extra attention to my clients. This is a win-win for my clients, the vendors I personally use and an opportunity for me to be profitable.

  4. Working closely with any professional as you take the steps to secure your home is key. If you are purchasing your starter home, the trust and respect you put into your realtor may lead to work with them in the future years as you purchase larger homes. As you grow comfortable with the familiarity of your neighborhood, it is natural to want to pick similar surroundings once you decide the change is necessary. Having established a close relationship with your realtor in the first process will ensure that they pick a home that matches your previous needs.

    It is important to always offer the same high level of service to every Grand View Builders customer. Whether purchasing a Build On Your Lot or Move-In Ready home, we offer the expertise of the consultants in our design center. The more you work with us, the better we get to know you and how best we can get your goals accomplished. At Grand View Builders, we strive to make sure that we offer assistance to the consumer throughout each step in process of acquiring your home, from interior to exterior.

  5. Customer-centricity. I only work with professionals who understand its all about the customer and exceeding the needs of the customer. If the professional over-delivers, and exceeds the wants and needs of the customer, I will keep giving that professional my business, If a professional does not deliver on what he or she says they will, then I will not work with them again. It’s not about me; it’s about the customer. Treat the customer with honesty, integrity and respect. From there, you will earn referral and repeat business.

  6. Consumers looking for new contractors or service providers should do their research, look for reliable local companies, and be careful not to trust referrals on face value. A common scam for small jobs such as patio installation and roof repair includes doing a good job on one home in a neighborhood as a prospecting reference for others, promising discounts for doing several other jobs at once, and then running off after getting a down payment of money for materials. They know that as long as the loss is small, few people will pursue criminal or legal action. Even the Better Business Bureau has problems since companies pay to be listed. I don’t trust the rating, but it tells me how long they’ve been listed locally, and bigger ads in the Yellow Pages suggest a company has a local reputation to maintain. Another good option, which is even better than asking neighbors for references, is to use the membership-based Angie’s List service. Let the company know you found them on Angie’s List, and you may get even better service since they know you can easily tell thousands of other members about your experiences with a company. Angie’s List is great news for the companies that do good work – and not so great news for the companies that don’t.

  7. Do I dare say; good for business? Besides the bottom line, repeat business is great to know consumers still value and cherish the hard work a person/company puts into their craft. On another line, continuing to have repeat business, over the years, allows business owners to understand the changing needs and tastes of their consumers. Times do change, that is given, so professional need to receive feedback in a timeline manner – not years down the road when the bottom line is red.

  8. This week’s question was answered by one of Small House Building’s contributors, Eric Brennan. As a second generation master carpenter with over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, Eric knows home improvement. In 2005, he started sharing that knowledge as a construction writer.

    Q: What are the advantages of consistently working with the same professional?
    A: I’ve had a chance to visit lots of different job sites over the years. And along the way, I’ve met a cast of characters, many of whom I’ve grown to cherish as good friends over the years. Having repeat customers not only has made my business what it is today; I’ve also gained a lot of great friends in the process.

    Q: Do you offer discounts for repeat customers or faster service?
    A: When I work with customers that I’ve worked with before, they have the satisfaction in knowing that they are going to get the best deal. Even if they have other bids, we will drop the price to match or beat the competition for our repeat customers.

    Q: How do you try to ensure that you establish long-term relationships with clients?
    A: Once the job is complete, we always leave a business card and encourage new customers to spread the word by becoming a reference for future customers.

    Q: Are there times when you won’t work with a customer again?
    A: I’ve never met a customer I didn’t like. After all, the customer is always right!

    Q: What can customers do to keep good relationships with their favorite professional?
    A: By keeping in touch. A phone call on a day off or during the holidays can really go a long way in providing the basis for a strong relationship between customers and professionals.

  9. It is often said that the greatest compliment is a referral, but I really think that a greater compliment is a repeat client. We feel particularly strongly about this as we don’t have a product that clients would buy more than once. However, they come back to us for updates, remodels and auxiliary purchases because we established the trust and relationship with them.

    At the core of our company is the idea that our clients are the ones that pay our paychecks, so it’s our duty to serve them to the best of our ability and constantly exceed their expectations. On more than a few occasions, we’ve gotten letters from clients to say that the finished product was far better than they had imagined. That is how we know we did our job right.

    After the sale, we continue to nurture that relationship by using the long lost art of the handwritten thank you. We make sure our past clients know how grateful we are for their business and how much we enjoyed working with them, as well as how much we love the way their outdoor living environment turned out. Repeat clients are most certainly treated as VIP’s, receiving preferred scheduling and discounts.

    To establish and nurture a solid connection with your service professionals, treat it as you would any other relationship – with openness and honesty. Lay down expectations up front, keep the lines of communication open at all times, and know that it’s okay to gracefully walk away if it isn’t working for both parties. A happy client when the project is done is great, but a raving fan well after completion is a friend for life.

  10. We enjoy a great deal of repeat business with our kitchen and bath remodeling firm. People that have a great experience want others to know. Our showroom and office is in a vibrant neighborhood near the University of Washington and we’ve been in business for the last 22 years. Not only does repeat business grow our business but it keeps us connected with clients that have become friends. We have clients that just stop by our office to catch up. This is professionally so rewarding.

    Our method of keeping in touch is through our electronic newsletter and website. We also have very detailed knowledge of our client’s homes and tastes so when a new product or a special office is available we let them know about it first. Over course anything an existing client needs jumps to the front of the list, even if it’s a very small job.

    We also tend to work for families and in one case remodeled every family member’s kitchen in an extended family and then their corporate offices. Now we are working for our client’s children.

    Twenty one years ago a client of mine asked me to join his Rotary club; I did and went on to be District Governor with over 3,300 members. The integration of business and philanthropy wouldn’t have come about without a wonderful client.

  11. I LOVE repeat customers. There are a lot of costs that go along with acquiring new customers and forming a lasting relationship. So, it is very important to maintain those relationships once they are created. We truly try to go that extra mile when working with clients that have chosen to return to us for business.

    One way that we support our repeat customers is with loyalty hours. The more you come back the more you save with free service for every 10 hours you purchase.

    Our loyal customers are always first in line when it comes to specials that we offer. Everyone receives the same introductory offer but when we hire new organizers to be trained we always give two for one specials and those specials go first to our existing, repeat clients.

    When our repeat customers recognize our business by sharing it with their family and friends, we provide a referral bonus to that customer.

    As I said, we love our repeat customers. We highlight the great things that they say about us on our website and facebook page. It is mostly anonymous but those folks know who they are and it feels good to be recognized publicly, too!

  12. If I have previously worked with a client I have a much better understanding of what they need from me as a design professional. I understand not only their particular style and practical needs for the home, but also their communication style and their biggest fears or worries. The more I have worked with the same person the deeper that I come to understand them as my client. This means we can play really well together – typcially at a lower cost financially and psychologically.

  13. As a roofing contractor, we always put repeat/existing customers first because they make our job do much easier. Without repeat customers, we would have no basis or projection for the minimum amount of projected revenue for the month. So it’s a win win situation: we sleep a little easier at night knowing we have cash flow, and repeat customers get 1st priority.

    Do you offer discounts for repeat customers or faster service?
    1. Yes, we offer priority service and discounts, depending on the situation.

    How do you, as professionals, try to ensure that you establish long-term relationships with clients?
    2. Mailing lists for repeat customers keep us in touch and fresh in their minds. Holiday “thank you” cards also help.

    Are there times when you won’t work with a customer again?
    3. Our only real deal breaker is lack of payment on an ongoing basis. We give repeat clients every opportunity to stay in good standing. This includes payment plans and working with a clients financial situation.

    What can customers do to keep good relationships with their favorite professional?
    4. Customers can stay in good standing by honoring our invoices and payment requests! We believe in the Golden Rule.

  14. The main thing for us with keeping people happy and ensuring future work is setting upfront contracts. We are confident with the work that we do, the skills we have, etc. but when you think you’ve done a great job and it hasn’t met the expectations that the customer had -and did not vocalize- then you are in real trouble in terms of getting future work and maintaining high customer satisfaction. So to this end, we set everything upfront and as specific as we can. We ask questions and let the customer, or even prospective customer, talk about their concerns and pains. Not only does this help identify exactly what they are expecting, but the conversation itself is good for bonding and rapport so that the customer is comfortable with us moving forward. We are not afraid to tell people things that we can’t do or things outside of their budget. As a business you can’t hold the fear of losing the work because ultimately if you are open about these things then people will trust you and the outcome is much better even if you lose projects from time to time.

    Beyond that, there is a list of people that we won’t work with again. There is such a thing as a bad customer, somebody that you need to walk away from or that does not fit who you want to do work for and it almost always has nothing to do with money or anything like that. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten to a point where businesses put on their “selling” masks and try to get people to buy while consumers have to act in their own defense so as not to be “tricked” into a sale. So for us, we are honest, if even blunt at times
    and we hope that our customers appreciate this and don’t try to con us in the way that they often must to survive the traditional selling method.

  15. The biggest driver of our business is repeat customers. We keep a private database of previous clients and when they call us again we always make sure to thank them for using us once more. We have a loyalty program where clients can opt in to email and snail mail communications to receive offers and discounts. Once a year, our top 100 clients receive a gift at Christmas. We also ask customers to leave an NPS (Net Promoter Score) and comments after using our service so that we can continue to improve. We have developed great relationships on the franchise level with repeat customers that end up feeling like family.

    The best thing customers can do to keep a good relationship with their favorite professional would be to provide constructive feedback so that their experience can be even more fantastic next time. And if the experience was too amazing for words-well, simply calling us again is more than enough!

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