Home improvement professionals are always looking for new business, and once a professional gets a new customer, it’s crucial that they create and maintain a good relationship. After all, long-term business contacts offer a laundry list of benefits including big savings on money and time for everyone involved.
To get some insider tips on establishing repeat business, we talked with two experts in the field: Richard Shapiro, president of The Center for Client Retention and author of the new book The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and Samantha Landa from 1-800-Got-Junk?.
Repeat customers allow professionals to save lots of money on acquisition costs. Often, these savings are then passed down to the customer, resulting in reduced service rates.
As the relationship builds, jobs are completed with less hassle and on tighter schedules. Customers and professionals begin to form stronger working relationships and communicate more effectively. Professionals also become more familiar with a homeowner’s project history and their preferences, encouraging the customer to place more trust in their service professional.
Making a Connection
The first time you interact with a customer can mean the difference between a source of continuing business and a one-time bad experience. Whether it’s a phone call, e-mail or in-person meeting, it’s important to make a solid, positive connection from the start.
According to Richard Shapiro,
“First impressions are the most important thing when trying to secure repeat business. Make an effort to connect to your customer on a personal level before you start talking about the job. Compliment their house, their yard or their neighborhood; even talking about the weather can help you connect with a person.”
Making a personal connection before establishing your business relationship can help make a customer feel more comfortable with you, encouraging open dialogue and more effective communication.
Once you’ve established that initial connection, keep up the enthusiasm. Some customers may not be ready to commit to a project or repair after your initial visit.
“Make them feel that you really want the job and that you enjoyed meeting with them.”
Following up may encourage a customer to pull the trigger. But, more importantly, it will show them that you care about their needs. Don’t suffocate them with sales pressure, but prove you are excited and capable of doing the job.
When the job is complete, make sure to maintain your good rapport.
Shapiro’s final tip is to “Schedule a review appointment. Ask them what you did right, what you could have improved and if they can compare you to any other companies or services.”
Following up in this manner will not only solidify your connection with that customer, it will help you figure out what you can improve on and what’s working well.
For the Customer
It’s important to consider what a customer can do to form positive relationships with a professional. For home improvement professionals, this applies to work with contractors, suppliers and inspectors. Consider that everyone is a customer at some point, no matter what their job is.
Samantha Landa from 1-800-Got-Junk? says,
“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.”
Good repeat business practices that are implemented on both sides of a transaction make home improvement more enjoyable and more successful.