Guest Blog by Beth Davis, Owner and Operator of BD Contractor Services specializing in support and education services for residential and light commercial contractors. For more information, visit www.bdcontractorservices.com or connect with her on Facebook.
Creating Systems to Build Customer Relationships – Part 1
In order to grow your business and enjoy a steady stream of referrals, you must first create systems for building and maintaining customer relationships. These systems need not be complicated, but they must take into account four simple steps.
First, you must plan the system with the end in mind. You must know what you want out of the system, whether it is to gather information, maintain a connection with your customer or gain referrals.
Next, you must be able to implement the plan. Taking action with your systems will separate you from 75% of all businesses who, although they have systems in place, rarely take action on them.
Third, and this step is the most important of all, you must deliver a quality product every time you work with a customer. All of the systems in the world, executed perfectly, will not be enough to build relationships with customers for whom you have performed shoddy or poor quality work.
Last, you must follow up behind your systems as you implement them. Take note of what is working and what is not. Get feedback from your office staff and your customers and, when necessary, make changes to your procedures in order to make them both more efficient and more effective.
The following systems have been identified by our clients as those that have the biggest impact on customer acquisition and retention.
Customer Intake Process
When you first begin a relationship with any customer, you need to have a system with which you collect pertinent data. It does not matter whether you do this automatically through an online form, take down customer information during an estimate or request that your customers fill out a form. What matters is that you have a consistent, organized manner in which you complete this activity.
You must ensure that you collect enough information (name, address, phone number, email) so that you can continue the process without being overly intrusive. No one wants to give you their life story during the first interaction. Save birthdays and pet names for later on. For now, just stick to the essentials in gather customer information.
From the information you gather, create a database in a form that you will use. If you have an overly complicated system or one that you loathe using, you will fail to keep up an follow through with system implementation.
I have used a simple spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel for over fifteen years to track customers and vendors as well as friends and family. Some of my customers do well with fancy customer relationship management (CRM) software and some prefer a Rolodex with hard copies of business cards taped inside. Whatever your preference, make sure that you have pertinent information and that you can access it and use it for future marketing purposes.
Quality Control System
In the remodeling industry, every employee is a marketer and you must treat them as such. Every product created or built by an employee has an impact on how customers see your company. A job that is well done says more about the quality of your business than any advertisement or social media post ever could.
Having a system in place that defines “quality” for every project and provides check points to determine whether the pre-defined standards of quality are being met allows you to make certain that your customer experience is favorable. When setting quality standards, involve your customer in the process. Quality to you might mean getting things done quickly and under budget while your customer’s biggest concern is your attention to detail. What is important to your customer must become important to you. Making their concerns your concerns shows them that you care.
Read more in Part 2…