10 Ways to Encourage Repeat Business After You’ve Finished the Job

By Greg Ver Steeg – V.P. Marketing, Sudenga Industries, Inc.

When it comes to grain handling systems, repeat customers are your best customers, so why wouldn’t you stay in front of a good customer even after they’ve handed you a check? Sometimes it can be hard to find reasons to re‐connect with past customers. Following are ten great ways to remind your customer that you are still there for them.

1. Post sale/project surveys. This idea has been around for ages, but is worth repeating considering it is easier than ever to poll your customer by utilizing free or inexpensive web based survey services like surveymonkey.com or zoomerang.com. Consider offering a free gift or some sort of discount on the customer’s next purchase for filling out the survey and you’ll get better response rates. I suggest requesting a survey around 30 days after you’ve completed a project to give customers time to process their opinions about how a project went. Address any negative feedback promptly. Express gratitude for constructive feedback.

2. Take a picture of the project with the customer standing in front of it and send them a framed copy. Be sure to include your logo on the frame or in the picture somewhere. You’d be surprised at how many customers will hang this in their office serving as a constant reminder of your relationship with them.

3. Did you see additional work or other problems that needed to be addressed while you were on the job site? Put together a short outline regarding how you would tackle that work and send it to your customer a few weeks after you’ve finished a project. If applicable, include a drawing of what you envision the solution might look like or literature on a product that might solve the problem. For relatively minimal effort you add to your credibility as a problem solver, and believe it or not, most customers like to have solutions to problems proposed to them, especially if they don’t have to pay for the ideas up front.

4. Putting scheduled post project inspections in your bid can add value to your services on the front side, but is also a win/win for dealer and customer in the long term. The dealer has an excuse to get back in touch with the customer six or twelve months after they’ve left the job site, while also heading off any potential future complaints. The customer receives a free evaluation on how the product or job has worked in the long‐term and has an opportunity to voice feedback and opinions at this time. Dealer and customer can discuss future needs as well.

5. Channel that “great‐aunt on your mom’s side” by sending birthday cards, baby gifts and cards for “less popular” holidays to past customers. If you don’t have a birthday database consider starting one... get creative in how you accumulate customer’s birthdays! While many people don’t want to remember their own birthdays, they appreciate it when other people do. Skip the Christmas card and send cards for holidays like Thanksgiving or the 4th of July. Your card won’t end up in a pile of 50 other Christmas cards, and you’ll remind your customer that you are there at the right time of year. Sending a baby gift, like a sleeper with your company logo or a personalized baby blanket is a nice personal touch... just be sure you spell the child’s name correctly if you choose to personalize!

6. As a business owner, chances are you are making donations to a favorite charity? Want to go even further? Put the power to choose where your donations go in the hands of your customers. Let them tell you where they would like to donate a pre‐specified amount, say $50 or $100 per customer. This is a good sized donation for many local charities, and while you’ll find yourself sending checks to more than one charity, your customer will get a thrill out of helping support a cause that is meaningful to them!

7. E‐newsletters are popular, but it takes time to put together enough content to justify calling them a “newsletter”. If you want to keep it simple, consider utilizing e‐blasts. E‐blasts are brief one, maybe two, item notes to your e‐mail contacts telling them about a new product, profiling a new employee, or promoting a drawing you will be holding at the next trade show. Your e‐ marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated and e‐blasts are an easy way to keep it manageable. Be sure to include a means to “unsubscribe”. There are numerous web services that can help you get started with e‐blasts including constantcontact.com or tinyletter.com.

8. Send a coupon promoting a free gift or discount for your customer’s next purchase if they send you a referral. Build a strong referral program by incenting customers to recommend you to their neighbor. Nothing says, “I appreciate your willingness to recommend me” like free stuff.

9. Use past successful projects as showplaces. Many customers love to show off their “great decisions” and are often flattered when you ask permission to bring new potential customers through their site. It’s a nice way to show competency to a new customer, but also shows past customers that you are proud of the work you did on their site and want to show it off.

10. With over 800 million active users, everyone has got a Facebook page. Do you have a Facebook page for your business? Unfortunately, you no longer have the luxury of saying “I don’t Facebook.” If you don’t manage your online presence, someone else is going to manage it for you. Take control of your online presence and use it to stay in touch with your customers. Have your customers “like” your company page on Facebook. Make the page useful by offering specials or useful content on the site. Flatter your customers by posting pictures of projects as you complete them. The more followers you get on Facebook, the easier it is to continue to build a sustained presence in front of your customers.