Actually this week I want to talk about two things if we have time! The first is about making money with anniversary dates and how you can use anniversary dates to get more business from your customers.
The other thing I want to talk about gearing up and planning for your slow season next year. I know this sounds absolutely crazy because many of you are just getting started on your busy season. Right now many people are finally getting ready for the spring season, winter’s over and you gearing up for the busy season.
And if what is going here is any indication of what’s going on in other parts of the country, you are busy now. For some reason people are spending money. Everyone I’m talking to is busy busier than their projections. So get the money.
So let’s talk about making money with anniversary dates in your contracting business this week.
Here is an example from my life. I got a new A/C unit put into my house recently. Its one of those units that has the whole house filter and it that has to be replaced once a year, so I put in my calendar to remind myself. Then I couldn’t help myself I just had to know. I asked him, “hey, did you put my anniversary date in your calendar so that you could remind me that you’re coming by to install my new filter next year?” My friend the roofer was standing there and he started laughing asking what heck are you doing? I said I was just helping Dean with creating another profit center for his business. Dean started chuckling and said, “I got it all taken care of, you are on the list to get your filter installed next year.”
I said awesome and that I just wanted Dean my A/C guy to realize that he could create a profit center from just replacing filters annually. That’s future business.
That’s what I do when I’ve pressure clean someone’s place. I’ll put them in my system, I’ll send them out the card in about 12 or 13 months reminding them that last year about this time you had your house or the exterior pressure cleaned, and I just wanted to let them know that now is the time to do it again. And if you schedule with the next week or so, we will charge you the same price as last year even though we have been going up on our prices. So why would I do that? Give it to them for the same price as last year? Because they’re good customers, number one, and number two it didn’t cost me anything to get them to do business with me this year. The cost was simply a stamp on a card this year because I sold them last year. All I had to do was remind them that it needed done with a quick postcard.
That message is set in motion automatically and is scheduled to go out annually. What if you didn’t have a system and got busy? You would forget about them! Honestly, your customers are busy people and like being reminded it’s time to get something done. They really welcome the reminders and if you could set them up on a maintenance system that you do every six months or once a year, whatever is normal in your business that’s even better.
Now, I do have regular maintenance customers that I have set up on a yearly basis were we are keeping the roof clean, and minding the house all way out to the road. We do minor repairs if they want them done including painting touchups, so I’m sending those customers a 30 day advance notice.
I’ll send them a card with a Starbucks card in and say we are coming on such a date to do your regular yearly maintenance, just wanted to give a chance go out and grab a latte. Go ahead and sit down and make a list of all the extra things that you would like done while we are there to keep you home beautifully maintained, so we know what you want done when we come by this year. This works out great because of that card and Starbucks cards they do actually make up a list of additional items and that usually adds 50 to 60% to our yearly maintenance.
Depending whatever type of business you’re in, whether you are a electrician, a plumber or an air conditioning guy, there’s all sorts things that you could come up. Just let them know that you did this service last year around this time, and ask if there anything else that they need this year. You could even offer to do a free audit on the anniversary date.
Let’s say you’re a plumber. Go for a free audit on the pipes and hot water heater, dishwasher, or the one of the big things that goes is the water lines to the washing machine. Go through and do a check of the valves underneath the sink making sure the traps are all tight. Next tie something into the audit like may be a special offer for your good customers. A special that you might be running for that month to that quarter, the spring, or the fall. If you are an electrician you do a safety check or safety audit. Of course you need to be honest in all of your dealings. There are all kinds of things that you could do that would be valuable, you just need to be creative.
Carlton Sheets, the famous guy who sold real estate investor courses, said there are 10 solutions to every problem, the first 3 are easy. Think hard.
So now we can get into “real” anniversary dates like the wedding, birthdays and special things that go on in your customers life.
One of the greatest marketing techniques that I’ve seen in a long time which is fun to do if you can get your customer’s birthdays is a half birthday card. Yeah that’s right, you send a half a birthday card on their half birthday. A half birthday card and you make an offering…maybe you give them a half discount on a special you may be wanting to run for that time of the year, or you can save this to your real birthday and use the whole discount.
You just have to be creative to get your customers engaged into doing more business with you. The anniversary could even be their wedding anniversary. I’ve seen restaurants use the half birthday cards all day long to get a new customer by offering a buy-one-get-one-free special.
One of the biggest challenges for most business owners like us is we get so in the trenches of making money and doing the work, that we don’t step back and think about working on the businesses instead of in our business. But like we have said many times before in this podcast, you’re actually in marketing business! However you can get your client to open up, whenever piece of information you can get that will be a killer offer that they will bite on.
We need to think differently and see how creative ideas will work for you. It’s okay to copy somebody if you think it’s a good idea, but test it first before you do it on a big scale because it could really suck.
You probably say these sound really, really good, but how do I get all this stuff into a system so that they can go out automatically. That’s really what needs to be done… it needs to be automatic and scheduled way out in advance. I have a system that I use that I will be sharing in the next couple of week. I will go over my system, how I actually send out everything from a simple postcard to fairly big gifts.
Okay so enough about the anniversaries! Just one last thing, often we are working in a commodity business so you want to do it. Just really make it happen to be that guy who stands out out amongst the others. Because when you stand out amongst the others, you are no longer a commodity business.
Let’s get into the other topic for today…
It’s spring and business is gearing up! Many of us are coming off a slow or reduced business season for the winter. I know some contractors listening are living in different areas that actually have snow. Living in Florida I forgot what that is like!
By not having snow, basically my business is fairly consistent all year.
But I realize it that there are some things you contractors out there just aren’t able to do because of the weather, and I want to actually think about that for next year. To get you to start planning for next year right now, so that when your slow time or season comes up, you’re no longer slow.
Talking about next year’s slow time is a crazy thing to be doing right now because everyone is getting ready for the busy season.
I really, really want to talk about being prepared for your slow season and creating ways for it not to be slow next year. Now that it’s over, you don’t have time to think about it. I know you’re going to be busy and the last thing you want to think about is getting more customers.
There are 2 situations at play here. You can work your butt off until it slows down again and have put money away to get you through and not have to work, or you can plan ahead. Let’s kick around a few ideas on what you can do this year to help prevent a slow time from happening.
Why do it now?
One you are getting ready for next year and two, when things are stressful your brain does not work in a very creative way, so now as things are picking up and flowing smoothly, your brain will actually work more freely and creatively without the stress.
I really have a challenging time relating to working in the snow. It’s been over 30 years since I moved from the north. that’s why I moved to Florida, so I wouldn’t have to deal with that, but I think about it every once in a while. About how it was and what I would do if I were in that position. This really took a lot of thought and preparation to come up with. What I would actually do as a painter, I would actively market for interior work during the winter months. You actually have to think outside the box about what could you do to grow your business in the winter months.
When I first went back to business my slowest month was February. It took me two years to realize that February was my slow month, so basically what I had do was create and ramp up my marketing in November, December and January…February is no longer my slow month.
If I was in a different climate preparing for the winter slow season, I would advertise during the fall and winter. I would put together some type of home audit for the homeowner on spring cleaning in the spring, sort of like what I do with my maintenance items now, I would just do up a free in-home audit. In the winter I would start writing audits and start getting that work scheduled for the spring,
I would definitely stay in the high-end range and I would probably have to collaborate with decorators more plus I would really ramp up my availability to realtors who are selling high end homes. I would become their really good friends so that I could be referred as much as possible, creating an really awesome referral rewards program.
First I would build their trust through networking, the winter being awesome time to get out there and turn slow times into relationship building times. Start planting your farm and getting ready for the harvest. Those are just a couple things I know that I would do. I would create joint ventures more than I do now with the other businesses that have the same type of customers that I do who would benefit from my services. And I might do a mailing with that company that has the same customer base type I have. Paying for the mailing and having them introduce you to their customers. You could even pay them a small percent of revenue for them letting you borrow their customers the first time.
These are some awesome ideas for anybody who goes into a slow season and goes into a funk because of the added stress. So plan way ahead so that you don’t run into the slow seasons, they are not fun. Like I said before, the biggest challenges with stress is that when you’re stressed because business is slow, then your brain just doesn’t think right. It’s not as creative or open to the possibilities of what can happen.
So really now is the time when you’re busy to think about, “How can I get more business? What can I do to attract more people in the slow times? You’ll be surprised at how your brain thinks accordingly. These are some great ideas that anybody can use it anytime, but mainly if you’re slow I would go through these and make a checklist of things that you want to start implementing to get your business off and running steadily during a slow time. Now that you have your mind thinking in this abundance of getting business, start your list for the future.
Next week I want to go over strategic partners, what they are, how to put them together, how to have them sell your services and why they would even consider it.