Successful contractors who’ve been around at least a few years will tell you that referrals are a huge driver in their business. And they should be. The best customer should the one you have already. Next best is something they’ve referred to you. And yet, too many contractors ignore current and past customers both as a source of additional business and a source of referrals.
With respect to existing customers, HVAC contractors moving into home performance have an enormous opportunity–the size of which parallels the size of their customer base. In the HVAC world, you have the chance to revisit home for regular maintenance visits. It’s even better when those maintenance visits are pre-paid and locked in in the form of service contracts. (This is a primary reason why I’m so excited about the HVAC-2-HP opportunity, and HVAC contractors adding solar and EV solutions, for example–the ability to unlock the potential of that customer base is HUGE!). While HVAC contractors have an advantage, all contractors can tap into into existing customers to some extent. You can approach them in advance of an expiring warranty, or opportunity they wanted to address at a later date. You should have someone in your office maintaining contact with existing customers via newsletters, reminders about remaining recommendations for improvement, etc. Often, people will look first to the company they are know–someone they already have a relationship with–when it’s time to do more work or when another problem with their home surfaces. But that’s particularly true if you’ve stayed in touch, and shown the customer that you are interested in them and ready and willing to help.
Even when existing customers aren’t ready for the next purchase, they are a valuable resource with their ability to help you bring in new business from friends, family members, neighbors, or the broader community. You can sit back and let this happen passively. It will happen if you simply do a good job. However, if will happen a lot more if you approach it proactively.
First, you ought to be asking for testimonials regularly. People are usually happy to provide them (if you do good work!), and you can use these to help market and explain your services in solutions in ways that are more convincing than pounding your own chest. I’ve collected a few great examples from contractors that I think are doing this well. Regardless of the approach, testimonial pages, sliders on your website, video, or case studies (I love a good case study for a lot of reasons!), you ought to be asking for and using testimonials.
You should also learn to ask for referrals. Don’t just sit back and wait. Ask your customers whether they can refer you to anyone else who might benefit from your expertise (or vice-versa). You can even offer rewards, whether cash, services, or donations to charity. Include information about how a customer can participate in your referral program with your close-out package, in a post-installation “happy call”, and on your website. And you can ask people whether they buy from you or not. The better you ask, and the easier you make it, the more likely good customer experiences will turn into additional business from friends, family, and neighbors.
Don’t miss out on the best source of future business!
P.S. Here is the collection of the arbitrarily proclaimed Focus on Marketing Week articles: