When business owners think about marketing, they usually think about attracting new customers. But existing customers are equally, if not more, important. Incorporating customers into your rental store’s marketing efforts will generate new business opportunities, with current and potential customers.
Build Customer Relationships and Business with Events
Onsite events at your rental business create a wide range of opportunities. Whether you’re showing appreciation for current customers, getting to know prospective customers, or both, a get together can help educate people on your offerings — while nurturing positive personal relationships that yield trust and sales.
For a successful event, plan activities and set goals centered around:
Defining and demonstrating your brand: If your branding focuses on always having the right equipment for the job, give tours of your yard (see fleet section below for more), show attendees how to search for equipment on your website, create signage and handouts that tout availability policies, and so on. If your brand is built on responsive service, introduce your whole team so customers know backup contact people they can call if their regular salesperson is unavailable.
Generating peer interaction among your guests: Happy customers can be your best salespeople. Help start conversations between them and prospects. When they start “talking shop,” great pieces of equipment you rent and outstanding service you’ve provided can quickly become the topic of discussion.
Familiarizing attendees with your current fleet: Even a long-term customer may not be totally up-to-date on every piece of equipment you rent. Give walking or golf-cart tours of what’s on your lot, drawing special attention to what’s new. Equipment manufacturer representatives can be a tremendous help with presenting equipment benefits, running demonstrations, and answering customers’ questions at your event. Just like your offices, business signage, etc., make sure your equipment is cleaned up and looking its best.
Expanding your customer knowledge and contacts: Sure, you want to talk up your business during an event — and you should. But make sure you also ask customers and prospects plenty about their businesses and current challenges and opportunities. Very important, too: If six people from the same construction company attend your event, don’t just spend time with the manager you already know. Start forming relationships with equipment operators, office staff, and anyone else. All can be influencers when equipment rental decisions are made.
No doubt about it, events require you to invest time and money. The potential return on investment is well worth it though — from moving up from being a company’s second call to their first call when they need equipment to keeping the competition at arm’s length from your well-treated, appreciated customers.
Top Tips for Hosting your VIP Customers
Hosting customers in person is a great way to strengthen your rental store’s relationship with them. Here are some helpful tips for hosting a successful customer visit:
GenieFirst Impressions are Key: Whether or not they are a potential or longstanding customer, a positive first impression is necessary to start a visit. A gift along with a welcome note upon their arrival is a nice gesture and starting point to showing them a VIP experience.
Planning and Logistics: Managing your customers visit from start to finish is a great way to build trust and loyalty. Make sure their travel arrangements are taken care of in advance, such as getting them from the airport to the hotel to the facility and back, which will alleviate any stresses after a long travel day.
Know Your Audience: Get to know your customers and their needs before arrival. Customizing the daily agenda to meet those needs will help get the most out of the visit and ensures that they are getting the full VIP treatment.
Provide Excellent Customer Service: Be engaging and transparent, and encourage your customers to ask tough questions during their visit that you can address right away. This will help build trust in the company and strengthen their preference in the brand.
Have Some Fun: It is good to mix business with pleasure. All-day meetings and tours can be informative, but draining. Make sure you set aside time to host your customers in a more informal situation, whether it be a nice dinner and/or sightseeing popular local spots.
Learn from Your Customers: Ask questions on how you can improve processes and what is working well for them. That way you can work on improvements during the visit and leading up to the follow up.
Follow Up: Checking back in with your customers shortly after the visit will show them that you are indeed appreciative of doing business with them. It is important to track the number of sales after the visit to help you gauge on how to do future business with each customer.
Let Customers be your Best Spokespeople
You have some satisfied, even delighted, customers. People you’ve saved money with great equipment rental solutions, made look good at their job, and provided service that kept them on time and on budget with projects. Invite them to tell others about it — their own words.
Securing effective customer testimonials for your direct mailings, website, social media postings, or other marketing vehicles is as easy as:
- Identifying customers who would be good candidates for the job. If they’re happy customers, you’re half way home. If they’re also comfortable with clearly communicating that happiness (even with a video camera pointed at them), you have a winner.
- Asking the customer if they are willing to provide a testimonial. If they agree, let them provide it in their own words, but feel free to point their comments toward business strengths you wish to promote (e.g., “Could you talk about the time we brought you additional equipment at 10 p.m.?"). Their willingness to offer their testimonial should be documented with a signed and dated testimonial release form that clearly spells out your usage rights for their words and image (such as a head and shoulders photo), that they have authority or permission to speak on behalf of their company, any compensation (or none) to be given for the testimonial, etc. An online search for testimonial or talent release forms will connect you to many form options that are easy to customize for your needs.
- Putting effort into obtaining the best customer photo(s) you can. Ditto if you’re having video footage shot of the testimonial. It will make both your business and your valued customer look more professional. With the high-quality images and footage today’s smartphones can yield, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a professional photographer.
Easily obtained customer testimonials can add a powerful credibility to your marketing mix. A bonus: Most customers will be honored that you asked them to speak on your behalf and realize how much you value them and their business.
Incorporating customers into your rental store’s marketing efforts makes them feel special and valuable — helping you build a loyal customer base with current and potential customers.