Last issue we discussed five sure-fire ways to generate business from existing customers. Here are five more proven tips that can help you solidify relationships while bringing in more business
1. Continue to provide before & after photos. One mistake contractors can make is to stop giving past customers photos of their projects. This is a subtle way of telling the customer that you don't have to work that hard to keep her business or that you might be taking her business for granted. It is just as important to maintain the same energy and sales effort with customers that you have done five or 15 projects for as it is with the brand new customer who you are trying hard to impress.
2. Ask customers for referrals. This networking technique is especially important for contractors who work with residential customers. While the homeowner who needed a driveway constructed or sealed might not own other homes or buildings, he very often has friends and relatives who trust his judgment. Asking your customers for referrals is really part of "Sales 101" for sales and estimators but is often neglected. Too bad, because those sales professionals who do ask for referrals every time they sell a job increase revenues 40%-60%! This is a great way to grow revenues through turning your existing customers into sales people and "door openers" for your company.
3. Introduce your customer to other building "partners". This technique is more doable with commercial clients, but there is a growing number of building owners who are looking to further their investments and ownership of buildings by looking for partners who might share some of the financial and management risks. The conduit common to such an arrangement could very easily be you! This gets back to the need to understand what your customer's vision is for her own company growth and her resource situation. By keeping an open ear you might just hear something that could allow you to play "broker" between two potential partners that would only naturally look to you to do the work in which you specialize.
4. Do quality work! One thing is certain, if you do not perform quality work for your existing customers you will fail to get additional work. All the greatest marketing and customer service tricks in the world cannot make up for poor quality. You can increase the likelihood of driving up revenues from existing customers by doing a great quality job the first time. If you and your work crews are not 100% fanatics about providing quality then you would be best served by getting this part of your company fixed first.
5. Just ask for it! Do you really want to increase revenues from your existing customer base? There is only one thing that will do this in the end and that is to just ask for the business. Even the customer with whom you have had a great relationship wants to be asked. No one likes to be taken for granted, even your most loyal customer. When you are having that morning cup of coffee with a long-term customer and he talks about that new construction job he wants to get started on in the next year, don't assume that he already has your name written in as his contractor of choice. Ask him for the work and let him know that you want his business.
Increasing your revenues can certainly be done without a lot of extra marketing and advertising costs. Treating your current customers well and taking a sincere interest in their futures will open many doors to repeat work. Sure, it might cost you a dinner a few times a year, maybe even a round of golf or some tickets to the ball game, but this is still small potatoes compared to digging and scratching everywhere possible to find new business.
If you are doing some of these five items (or some of the ones discussed in January's Pavement), go back and measure how successful each technique has been to increasing your revenues. Can you see a direct correlation? If not, perhaps you need to rethink and adjust the effort to capture more opportunities to win additional business. It is possible to realize new revenues from old customers but it will take working many of these techniques and approaches shared here. Go back to your "old" customers and consider renewing your commitment to their future success.