Creating Loyal Customers

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The Girls.2011.0317Last Friday, the doorbell rang a little after 8pm, and I tripped my way over my dogs (aka “the girls) to answer the door. Turns out, the doorbell-ringing culprit was a college-aged kid named Drew selling lawn-care service for a national franchise and asked if I was interested. Since it was after 8 and I was completely engrossed in watching the Washington Capitals spank the New Jersey Devils and my husband and I already have “the other guy” (national franchise) taking care of our lawn, I said no. But before he let me close the door and get back to the game, he told me that he could beat “the other guy” on price and handed me an offer for a free estimate should I change my mind.

Hmmm … they can beat the other guy in price?

Now, by no means am I advocating competition based on price – especially in the home improvement industry. But, that little phrase – “We can beat the other guy on price.” – got me thinking about my lawn care service from last year. I remembered all the times “the other guy” annoyed me with their inconsistent service (in my mind), and how it seemed like every time I turned around they were recommending we add another service to our plan. Our $200 investment for the summer quickly blossomed into much more – just like dandelions spring up overnight!

So in the end, I called Drew’s national franchise and will be receiving a quote from them.

Here’s why: The “other guy” didn’t provide any added value to us over the course of the year that we’ve been their customer. Sure, they gave us a beautiful lawn – but with nothing else to differentiate them from the competition, I am left with nothing else to base my decision on other than price.

That’s NOT where you want to be in business.

Here’s the kicker – I already purchased from “the other guy” and I like their product. They have my trust because I see with my own eyes the result of how beautiful my lawn looks compared to a year ago.

But they didn’t add any value – none – to the equation. And for that reason, I never grew into a loyal customer; I simply remained a customer. And when given an opportunity to receive a quote from one of their competitors, I’ll at least consider jumping ship.

Ouch.

So how do you take steps to create added value and as a result, a loyal customer?

· Develop a newsletter program and add your customers to your distribution list. Offer them useful tips that they can use to improve the longevity and enjoyment of their home.

· Send your customers a personalized letter with a “Tips Sheet” enclosed to help them maintain the product they recently purchased from you.

· Send them Thank You cards to thank them for their business.

· Design a referral program with real, tangible and desirable rewards.

· Offer your customers exclusive preferred-customer discounts that are above and beyond those you advertise to the public.

All of these create added value to the customer and also build a relationship with them. And in the end, what you’ve created isn’t a relationship built on price, but one based on value, and that is what creates a loyal customer.

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