There are some simple yet highly effective things you can do as you near the end of a project that will ensure that you leave your client satisfied with your work and happy to recommend your company to their family and friends. Just because their final check has cleared doesn’t mean that your opportunity to market your services to them is over.
Labels, Labels, Everywhere Labels
As an additional marketing piece, have bright-colored stickers created that provide your company logo and contact information. After a project is completed, place these in discreet locations on the client’s hot water tank, electrical panel, attic framing, any equipment you installed, and even under the toilet tank lid. When your client is trying to remember your name, they’ll know where to look.
TIP: Create valve tags that include your contact information and put them on the water and gas shut-off valves.
Using OverSeeIt.com as a Marketing Tool
OverSeeIt.com is an online directory of independent home inspectors, located throughout North America, who are certified by InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. To remain members in good standing, InterNACHI inspectors must undergo rigorous training and ongoing inspector-related Continuing Education, follow a comprehensive Standards of Practice, and abide by a strict Code of Ethics. Give your clients the website address for OverSeeIt and offer to pay for their third-party inspection prior to the final walk-through. Because your client picks the inspector, they are assured that you don’t have a conflict of interest, even though you’re paying for their inspection. But because you’re recommending that they choose an inspector on OverSeeIt, you can be assured that the inspector is well-trained and upholds the same high standards for quality and integrity that you do. It’s win-win-win.
TIP: This idea of providing your client with a post-completion, third-party inspection can also be used as an initial sales tool.
A Smart Post-Completion Gift
A unique and inexpensive gift to give your clients after their job is completed is a framed set of before-and-after pictures. It’s a thoughtful way of reminding them of you. Tape your business card to the back.
Add a Personal Touch
Email is a very useful business tool, but a personal phone call or a handwritten note is always the best way to say “Thank you for allowing me to serve you.”
Sometimes a client throws a party to show off his/her newly completed project. Ask if you can attend and have your company’s literature available next to the potato chip dip.
Happy Anniversary! Love, Your Contractor
On the one-year anniversary of completing a project for a client, send them a Happy Anniversary card. This is just another way to remind your client that they should hire you for their future projects.
Client Satisfaction Surveys
Client satisfaction surveys have clear advantages for the contractors who conduct them. Obviously, a post-project client survey gives you feedback on what your client appreciated in your work, as well as what areas may need your attention and improvement. This kind of information is invaluable to your business’ success.
Surveys can also increase people’s awareness of a business’ other products and services, thereby encouraging additional purchases of other services that your clients hadn’t considered earlier.
There is also an effect that is quite below-the-radar. The very act of asking clients for their opinions can induce them to form judgments that might not otherwise occur to them to articulate, beyond paying you for your work. For example, your clients may realize that they really do like your contracting services—that the project actually went more smoothly than they thought it would, and that you and your crew were polite, efficient and considerate. Also, because a survey appeals to a customer’s desire to be heard, it automatically reinforces the positive feelings that a customer may already have about your business, making the clients more likely to purchase your services in the future, as well as recommend your business to others. The implied respect of asking for someone’s opinion creates positive reciprocity.
Of course, if the project was a disaster—caused by delivery delays, poor weather, an onsite accident, etc.—your survey will force your client to recall essential and factual details, such as your professional customer service and commanding leadership, making him or her truly consider whether a problem was because of you or your crew, or was actually beyond your control. This will mitigate your review and turn a negative into a positive. In a qualified sense, it’s still a testimonial that affirms your good business practices.
As an added protection, a client satisfaction survey provides a factual record of the client’s version of events surrounding the construction within a reasonable and relevant time frame, thus inhibiting his ability to change his story to fit the circumstances of a lawsuit, should you find yourself in court with the client at a later time.
Using a client satisfaction survey hits several birds with one stone.
- It limits your liability. A dissatisfied client will typically describe your services to his/her neighbors—or, worse, to a judge—much differently than the truth. Obtaining and keeping a copy of this survey will bring them back to earth, so to speak. It can often end a legal action all by itself. It’s the next best thing to a deposition.
- It alerts you to weaknesses in your service. Some people are too shy or embarrassed to complain to someone in person about their service, even if the complaints are justified. What they may do instead is complain only to the person who referred you—or, worse, to anyone who’ll listen, especially in online forums, which are searchable using your business name. Providing a survey offers your client a way to express his/her dissatisfaction while you are still on-site and can do something about it. Client feedback is vital to improving your service. You must do everything you can to ensure that your reputation doesn’t suffer from a poor online review or forum rant, where the criticism remains forever and will pop up—right along with your website—in a search for your business name.
- It alerts your client about the other services you offer. Some contractors offer additional services for additional fees. This survey lets your client know about the other services you are willing to perform, creating repeat business.
- It lets your client know that you care about his/her opinion. Again, everyone likes being asked what they think.
- It helps you get more work. By sending a copy of the flattering survey back to the person who referred you, you remind that person to recommend you to friends and family.
Near the completion of every project, ask your client to fill out the survey and sign it. Save the survey forever!
TIP: Some contractors ask their clients to complete a survey more than once during the course of a project. Especially if you receive a survey filled with negative comments, mitigate them to the best of your ability, and ask your client to fill out a new survey. See if your results have improved.
Here are some suggestions of items and questions that you can include to help you create your own Client Satisfaction Survey:
- client’s name
- client’s phone number
- property address
- date(s) of project
- Was the project completed on time?
- Was the contractor and his/her crew friendly and courteous?
- Did the crew cause a minimum of disruption during your project?
- Did you receive any complaints from neighbors or family members?
- Did s/he communicate with you on a regular basis, giving your updates and essential information?
- Did s/he provide documentation of your change orders, etc.?
- Are you satisfied with the quality of the materials used?
- Are you satisfied with the quality of the workmanship?
- Did the contractor explain his other services?
- Was the value of this project worth the cost of the contract?
- Would you hire the company again?
- Would you recommend the contractor to a family member or friend?
- Would you like to receive future contact, including news on special promotions and e-newsletters?
- additional comments and/or suggestions
- client’s signature
- date of survey
Post-Completion Letter with Neighbor Testimonial
Upon completing a project, it’s a good idea to mail a letter to all the neighbors asking them for work. Include a copy of the testimonial you ask for from the client whose project you just completed.
Here’s a sample letter:
Dear [Prospect’s Name],
I’m writing to let you know that we completed a project in your neighborhood for [Client’s Name] on [Client’s Street]. [Client’s Name] has given us permission to send you the enclosed testimonial.
We offer extensive experience in [Your Services].
I’d like to talk to you about our services. Call me on my cell phone at [Your Phone Number] for a free consultation. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
[Your Company Name]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Website Address]