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 2
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. The first two, plan with systems in mind and implement that plan, were detailed in part 1 of this blog which you can read here.
Continuing through the steps, 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.
Receiving a referral is the greatest form of social capital a client can give to you and that must be treated with the utmost respect. In creating a referral system there are, in reality, only three simple steps that you need to follow.
First you must ask for the referral. Whether you do this at the end of a pleasant experience with a customer or through follow up with clients down the road, you will get (at least) twice as many referrals if you actively seek them from clients.
Once you have secured a referral, your system must include a way to thank the referrer. Whether it is with a phone call, an email, a handwritten note or some other form of gratitude, you should thank the referrer as immediately as possible.
Recently, we have seen a number of remodeling companies offering to pay customers for referrals in the form of gift cards, discounts, etc. We polled a group of over 100 remodeling customers and an overwhelming 72% of them said that this strategy was a turnoff. Gratitude is appreciated, but being encouraged and bribed financially to give out social capital was something that the majority of customers found to be off putting.
The best thing that you can do in your referral system to thank one customer for sending you another is to do a good job. This enhances the referrer’s social capital and boosts their reputation for giving quality referrals. To many, this is much more important than a monetary reward.
Follow up System
One you have a database, a system for delivering quality results and a referral system, you need a system for keeping in touch with clients. This system can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. A good friend of mine has a virtual assistant who he employs for ten hours per month who takes care of all of the follow up. They have devised a system for sending out holiday cards, birthday cards and well placed emails as well as steady social media and content delivery (a whole other system in itself) to keep his company top of mind. This service costs him about $500 per month but has more than doubled his sales in the past five years.
Whether you choose to use your Rolodex and write one hand written note to a customer each week or you have a fully integrated CRM system backed up by office support, the follow up system is likely going to be the most lucrative one for you to put into place. It will feed the referral system and allow you to work more often for more ideal customers.
Whether you choose to streamline systems because you are a one man show or step up to more intricate systems to grow your business quickly, systems that work and are worked will become your biggest asset. Make sure you record the step by step process as you create it so that, when your workload increases, you can delegate these systems effectively to others.