Hiring and Firing Customers.
Raise your hand with me, if you will…come on, now…do you get stuck in the mindset and bad HABIT of feeling like you have to serve every customer that calls in and requests your company’s services?
We know that the value of just one customer is great, but are there customers that exist that actually decrease value? Over the past three years, the contractor/customer relationship has changed drastically. The demand for speed and convenience alone has changed the landscape, not to mention transactional differences, and with more and more technicians going out on their own these days, profit is harder to make. Profit can be made in this industry, but it can also be forfeited for the missionary mandate of serving all in need. Let me give you some of the greatest advice that my contractor dad shared with me: You do not have to help every customer that calls in; you can say no. And as a matter of fact, saying yes to every caller is a bad habit – businesses are built and torn down by something as small as a habit.
I get that our need to help and find solutions is why we do what we do, but to serve our communities at the expense of our business is not why we started our companies. When we realize that we do not have to provide service to everyone, we become empowered to begin building the type of customer base that allows us to succeed and enjoy the experience.
How many times have you heard on the other end of the line, “Do you treat all of your customers like that? You’re not much of a businessman, are you?” or “You won’t last long.” How about this one? “Well, you know you are legally required to run the service calls in the order that you get them.” Yes, this happened to us in our contracting business. Some people believe that your service is simply there to serve them the exact way they want. We say, “The customer is always right,” but what we should say is, “The customer we choose to give service to because of mutual respect and clear expectations is always right.” There’s a big difference. And the big difference is that we retain and please the customers we want, and in return, they choose to keep us as their service provider.
THE SELECTION PROCESS
How exactly do we choose them? With spring coming to an end and summer upon us, as the phone calls begin to pour in, how do we stop from getting so busy and covered up with too many of the ‘maybe good, maybe bad’ customers? How do we change the habit?
- First, write out your ideal customer profile and be sure to include the neighborhoods they live in. (Example: homeowner, ages 45 & up, multiple systems in their home, 90210 zip code)
- I’m kidding about that 90210 zip code. Our ideal customers don’t all need to live in Beverly Hills, but we need to target neighborhoods that we want to be working in – these neighborhoods may be near elementary schools, suburbs, or golf courses.
- Second, tag all existing customers if they match that profile. Don’t forget that many of your existing customers are ones you want to keep.
- Third, stop giving your resources and attention to customers that don’t fit the bill. Does this mean you stop giving them service altogether? Not necessarily. But what this does mean is to stop trying to milk a cow that has no milk.
After you make your profile:
- Scan your customer database and make some cuts.
- Focus on who you already have, and then plan to become more intentional with these customers.
- Make contact immediately.
Current customers are the easiest and most affordable way to re-energize your services. Adams Hudson, a friend and fellow consultant, says, “The reason most of them (55%) leave you is due to your perceived indifference. They think you don’t care whether they stay or not! How could you possibly allow that perception to go unchallenged?” Contact your most valuable assets! No excuses. This contact might include any of the following:
- Multiple postcards a year
- Thank-you cards after service calls
- A few non-sales-y phone calls a year
- A monthly newsletter
- Four gifts a year (magnets, cups, pens, t-shirts, etc.)
It doesn’t take a large budget to be intentional with your priority one customers. Even the smallest gesture can make a large ripple and put you back in their top-of-mind Rolodex. Then, focus on the new. Go out and get those new priority customers. You will need to focus on filling the spaces you emptied to make room for the best. Use the same profile you used with your existing customers. Before you know it, your customer list will be full of profit-making names, and the relationship you have with those customers will be part of the reason you stay in business with each new year.
P.S. This is an oldie but a goodie; check out this ‘Creative Call-Taking’ video for more on how to prioritize when you get busy this summer! https://youtu.be/wf-6GBJvNRU
Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.
Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.