PowerTips | The Remodeler's Guide to Business

How To Grow Your Own Great Clients

 

Today, Director of Business Development, Ted Dubin, shares information on a business practice that can immediately and directly affect your bottom line.

What Can You Do to Encourage Clients to Be “Good Clients”?

One sure-fire technique is implementing a strong outbound customer-service program.  Set the tone in the very first sales call:  Your company is different than most! Instead of them wondering “What’s going on?” or having to call you to find out about their project, let prospective clients that you will be contacting them regularly with updates.

Set a schedule to call every single client regularly and then keep to the schedule.  Remind the client each time you call that you are fulfilling your promise.  I suggest a regular updating method in writing plus weekly personal calls (and a call is not really a true customer service call unless you speak with the client – voice mails don’t deliver the personal touch that’s needed).  Don’t worry about what to say – just call.

Why Should I Bother With Extra Customer Service?

You might think “What’s the big deal?  We’re available – we answer our phones or return calls.”  Of course you do, as expected.  The difference is that regular, personal calls to clients demonstrate the extra effort that you are willing to give to provide the best possible remodeling experience.

Some short-sighted business owners I’ve met consider this “Hand-holding” or “Coddling.” They feel that your client should remember 100% of what was covered in the sales appointments, trust you implicitly, and some are even offended that a client would ever have a question– or need to be reminded that you’re on the job.

Nothing could be further from the truth! The sales process is not over when you sign the contract.  You should look at each and every customer “touch” as an awesome opportunity to once again connect with your client.

Do you want your 2nd, 3rd payments without hesitation?  Do you want an easy, hassle-free time for all your employees and trade partners while the work is in progress?  Do you want a happy client in the end that is ready to recommend you and brag about the experience you delivered – or do you want them to feel as if they had to “stay on top of you every step of the way” and “never knew what was going on”? You know from your own purchasing experiences that you know when you are dealing with a pro, someone who gave you the feeling that you were in great hands every step of the way. A proactive, outbound customer service plan will give your clients that same feeling and build your brand through an enhanced customer experience.

This is Your Captain Speaking.

Why do these calls matter so much to the client?  It gives them a feeling of confidence in you, your team, and the process.  They’re going through a hugely disruptive process – you’re not there, the house is torn apart, people they don’t know are coming and going, and —  by now — the client has forgotten 50% or more of what you discussed way-back-when at the initial contract signing.

Think of it like this:  When you travel by plane, several times during your flight the Pilot or Co-pilot comes on and makes an announcement (“This is your Captain speaking …”) Why?  The plane is going to its destination regardless of whether anyone in control speaks to the passengers or not. (Actually, planes these days might not even need much intervention from anyone to reach the destination).

The reason all airlines do this, on all flights every time, is that customers need to feel that someone is in charge and overseeing the operation, even if everything is smooth and on course. They need to know the Captain is there.

It’s the same with your clients.  Calling them regularly and communicating gives customers an irreplaceable feeling that the job is under control and that someone is looking out for them.

I Don’t Know What to Call Them About.

I’ve had Sales and Customer Service Reps tell me they don’t want to call the clients because they’ve got “nothing to say” (no significant developments, no visible progress, etc.).  They’re at a loss about what to talk about when they call.

This is easy: Tell the client exactly what you know.  Use the Sandwich technique:

  1. Everything is going smoothly
  2. Update
  3. Everything is going smoothly

“Mr./Ms. Client.  This is our weekly Customer Service update to you.  Everything is going smoothly so far.   This week we (report events and progress)” or “This week (we moved forward as much as possible while waiting for the next event or progress).”  Ask if they have anything they wish to discuss with you, then close with “Terrific!  Well, as I said, everything is proceeding smoothly and we’ll talk to you again soon in our next update”.

What NOT to Say.

Sometimes there may be an issue.  Things are gonna happen.  But DON’T start the call with trouble. Continue to apply the Sandwich technique:

“Mr./Ms. Client, everything has been proceeding smoothly.  However we’ve run into one (challenge/difficulty – NEVER a PROBLEM – clients don’t ever want to hear that you’re having problems).  Report the challenge and the plan to overcome it, then mention “Other than that, everything is going smoothly.”

(I used to work with a gentleman, a veteran businessman, who would open conversations with “Mr./Ms. Client, we’ve got a problem.”  A day or two later he was begging them not to cancel.  Clients never want to hear that you have a “problem” – and truthfully, you don’t have problems, just challenges.  You’re in the middle of a great project and you encountered an unexpected difficulty.  Just like the airline Pilot, you should report the turbulence, turn on the seat belt sign and tell your customers there will be smooth skies ahead in no time).

A Little Effort for a Huge Payback.

Last, “good clients” give you referrals.  Whether you only cultivate referrals or ask for referrals plus advertise, your return should not more than the one job you landed from your initial effort.  Your ROI should also include all of the revenue obtained from referrals.  If you don’t cultivate “good clients” by providing great customer service then you’re shorting yourself on your marketing investment.  Good customer service, including “Hand-holding” is not only the right thing to do, it pays for itself many times over.

A strong outbound, proactive Customer Service program is a necessity for any business.  With rare exceptions, you can create “good clients” every time!

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The members of the Remodelers Advantage community know that customer service is one element that can set them far ahead of the competition. Because happy clients can have such a huge impact on the success of the company, our top members survey their clients regularly to gauge their satisfaction level. Scores dropping? Dig in and find out why! To learn more about the best practices that top companies from the United States and Canada use to grow happy clients and build strong, profitable businesses, give us a call at 301-490-5620. Or click here

About Victoria Downing

Victoria is a leading authority in the remodeling industry, writing for Remodeling magazine, presenting educational seminars across North America, and is the author or co-author of several industry books, including “The Remodeler’s Marketing PowerPak.”

Do you have a burning question you would like Victoria to answer in a future issue of PowerTips? Send it to her via Twitter: @VictoriaDowning and be sure to use the hashtag #PTanswers.

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