The value of repeat business and customer referrals is tremendous. In fact most contractors would be hard-pressed to stay in business without the sort of word of mouth that sends new customers their way.
An essential element of customer retention is keeping in touch after the sale. Retaining a customer takes a fraction of the investment in terms of both time and money that it takes to secure a new one, and the potential returns are much higher. Your existing customers are your best source of new business, so it pays to make staying in touch a priority.
There are a few tried and true best-practices when it comes to staying in touch after the sale. Here are a few that work for contractors and home builders:
#1. A Strong Content Marketing Plan
Not all marketing aims to sell a specific item or service at a specific time. Much of it is aimed at staying top-of-mind, and establishing yourself as an expert ally on whom your customers can depend.
Email is a tremendously important marketing tool, and can be used efficiently with great results. The statistics on email’s effectiveness are numerous and compelling; here are a few important numbers:
- For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25.
- Email is nearly 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter at acquiring customers.
- 91 percent of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphone, making it the most used functionality.
- 70 percent of consumers always open emails from their favorite companies
Working occasional emails to existing customers into your marketing plan does not have to be time-consuming. Services like MailChimp make it easy to set them all up at once and to go at intervals you select. There are also CRMs (customer relationship management) specifically designed for builders that let you set up “drip marketing” within their contact management features. Some popular examples are Buildertrend, Co-Construct, and Real Simple Systems.
There are many, many ways to make contact with your customers, but whatever mode you choose, make the message memorable and personal, if possible. Keep track of birthdays or home purchase anniversaries, and send a greeting. Send congratulations on milestones. Even more useful is to send reminders for home maintenance or interesting articles on homeowner tax breaks.
#2. Connect on Social Media
It’s easy to find memorable and personal ways to reach out to your customers if you connect with them on social media. Depending on the length of your client list, it may be a good idea to use Facebook’s friend lists feature to group your friends into customized lists like “first-time home buyers,” “past clients,” “industry contacts,” etc. Then you can view news feeds based on your contact lists or send messages to certain lists of contacts.
There are also email plug-ins that will help you keep up with your clients. For example, services such as Xobni and Rapportive create an address book of all your e-mail contacts and show you profiles of each contact, including their latest status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
#3. Make it an Event
If you’ve recently completed a project or broke ground on a new neighborhood development, invite your customers to an open house or community tour. When your new projects make a favorable impression on existing clients, it does three things: plants the idea of making a purchase themselves, assures them of your continued interest and regard, and gives them a specific product to recommend to friends and associates.
Most people know of someone who’s in the market for a home, and if they are impressed with your new project, there’s a potential connection.
#4. After-the-Sale Closing Gifts
One way to create a lasting impression and stay in your client’s mind after a sale is to send a thoughtful closing gift. It’s smart to choose something that recurs, in order to keep your name in the client’s mind. Gifts that make homeownership easier or more enjoyable are also an excellent choice. Here are some suggestions:
- Hire a cleaning crew or home design service
- Smart home products, like Nest thermostat, smart garage door openers, or smoke detectors.
- Monthly gift membership, like fruit-of-the-month
- Subscription to a relevant magazine –DIY, home design, or gardening are popular topics.
We recently talked extensively about closing gifts. You can find the article here.
#5. Provide a Home Maintenance Plan
For builders, providing preventative home maintenance after the sale can be perhaps the most significant way to stay in touch. Yes, the industry is accustomed to providing a home warranty with the completion of any build —but when the homeowner cashes in on that warranty, it’s typically because something had gone wrong.
With an ongoing preventative maintenance program, builders are able to stay in touch in a positive way —by helping to maintain and care for the home. And, what better person to provide maintenance than the one who built the house? Not only will this keep builders top-of-mind, it can turn into an ongoing revenue source.
Glasshouse: The Preventative Maintenance Solution
For builders and contractors who don’t have the infrastructure or technology in place to manage after-the-sale, routine preventative maintenance, Glasshouse can help. Our proven program and plug-n-play technology can help you stay connected with your clients long after the sale —all while providing the maintenance today’s homeowners don’t have the time or energy to do. Learn more today!