Build and Maintain Customers for LifeAmy R. Connolly, Writer
A recent small business survey found 82 percent of owners said customer loyalty is the key to growth. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration, found finding new customers is six to seven times more expensive than retaining the current ones.
“Given these findings, it becomes obvious that customer loyalty is a worthwhile goal for your business to aspire, not only for marketing and branding reasons, but because of its impact on the bottom line as well,” said Bridget Weston Pollack, a guest blogger for the SBA.
Ensuring customer needs are met, even after the job is done, is a sure-fire way to the contractor’s best source of new business – client referrals. Successful roofing companies are built on consistency and excellent customer service.
Offering seasonal maintenance programs such as roof inspections, tree trimming, gutter cleaning and power washing – and offering referral incentives are among the ways roof installers can garner goodwill and boost their bottom lines year round.
Surprise and Delight
The one way to turn a one-time transaction with a customer into a consistent income driver is to provide value-added impact. The so-called “surprise and delight” strategy has long been used to keep customers engaged. This approach, utilizing unexpected extras for a positive outcome, is effective for both small and large companies.
For roofers, the approach should be no different. The following are year-round maintenance services that you can build into your pricing and or offer as a free ‘touch-point.’
- Provide free annual (or seasonal) roof inspections – Maintenance is an important service that can contribute to roof longevity, helping to uncover issues including broken roofing shingles and leaks can mean long-term damage. This allows you to be the first on the roof to inspect and potential issues. Annual inspection reports, complete with photos, provide customers with a clear view of possible problem areas.
- Schedule severe-weather inspections – Customers appreciate added attention following severe weather to ensure their newly installed roof withstood the storm. Contact previous customers to pre-schedule ‘post’ inspections. Atlas Signature Select® Roofing Systems include 130 mph high-wind coverage.
- Offer a preventive maintenance contract – Sun, wind, rain, hail, snow and sleet take a toll on roofs. Reasonably priced preventive maintenance contracts highlight the company as dependable. These inspections can be done quarterly or bi-annually. Think about bundling this into your initial pricing or as a flat quarterly payment rate.
- Introduce new related services – Don’t be afraid to offer discounted off-season services, like snow, leaf removal and gutter cleaning. A wider range of services is a way to further highlight your company’s versatility.
Customer referrals are a terrific way to grow any business. Some companies offer homeowners cash incentives for yard signs. Others provide gift cards to customers who write good social media reviews.
Other ideas for referral incentives include the following:
- Branded promotional items – Tape measures, travel mugs and T-shirts are a great way to say thank you while getting the word out about the company.
- Special events – Depending on the size of your customer base, throw a party or host a golf event. The key is to choose an activity that has broad appeal.
- Purchase discounts – Discounted services are always a good way to thank a customer for a positive referral. Be sure to make the discount substantial and different than your typical promotions.
- Cash – Nothing says thank you more than cash. A $50 or $100 incentive to current customers for a successful referral is one way to keep established customers happy.
- Extended labor warranties – More than trinkets or tokens of appreciation, customers want to know the there is a warranty that backs the roofing workmanship, in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty on the product.
No matter what kind of incentive program is offered, roofing contractors in particular must be careful to avoid illegal activities. Contractors who pay insurance deductibles to provide a “free” roof are in danger of committing insurance fraud, which comes with steep fines and possible jail time for both the roofing installer and homeowner.
To read more tips about how to improve your business, visit the Industry Updates section of Asphalt Life.