When looking at ways to grow your business, it pays to look after the customers you already have.
It always feels good to win a new customer. Whether it’s through a referral or an online search, taking on a new piece of business feels very satisfying. A pest manager may spends hundreds, potentially thousands of dollars a year, in marketing and advertising to win custom. But what about those ‘old’ customers, the ones who know to call you whenever they have a pest issue?
Customer retention is not a very exciting term, but it is the foundation of a profitable service-based company. Your oldest, most loyal customers are where the real value of your business flies.
It’s the family homes that have a termite inspection once a year, or the commercial accounts requiring fortnightly checking of rodent bait stations – these are the customers that pay the bills each month. You’ve already won their business, which is the hardest part. If you’ve provided a good service, you should be their go-to pest manager for ongoing and future work.
Having invested marketing dollars to capture new business, it is necessary to maximise the lifetime value of the customer. If you only manage to do one job for a new customer, the cost of gaining this new customer relative to the revenue you receive is high – you get a poor return on investment. Keep this customer for several years and the return on investment improves significantly. If you retain a large percentage of new customers year on year, your business will grow.
Retaining existing customers isn’t difficult, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted either. Here are some of the key steps to maximise customer retention.
Firstly, make your customer feel valued from the outset. From the very first conversation, demonstrate that their problem matters to you. It may be just another German cockroach problem, but to the mum with three children squealing at the sight of them, the problem is very real.
Secondly, politeness and clear communication on the job is essential. Some customers will appreciate having a chat about the source of the problem, others just want the job to be done as quickly as possible. Allow enough time to have a proper conversation about their needs and concerns. Be flexible in your customer management, everyone is different!
Thirdly, go easy with upselling. Yes, there are plenty of opportunities to offer add-on services, but no one likes the hard sell. While it’s good to offer an extended range of services, counter this by giving free advice on how they can minimise future pest problems. This will not only demonstrate your expertise but will show that you want to offer genuine value.
After performing a treatment, be sure to follow up and check that the customer is happy – this is the chance to remedy any issues and perhaps to remind them about what level of pest activity they should expect to see following the treatment.
Now that your customer is in your database, you can keep in touch with them easily via email, text messaging, newsletters and social media. It’s important to strike a balance between keeping in touch and becoming a nuisance. But regular, free useful advice ensures you develop the relationship with your customer and builds your reputation and brand. With personalisation a key trend in marketing, ensure you segment your customer database for targeted communication.