Follow Us

Soap Warehouse Blog

Creating a Customer Packet

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Aug 02, 2017 @ 09:12 AM

You can create a number of different customer document packets for customers; Intro packets, Commerical job packets, but the one I feel is a must for the residential contractor is the "Thank you for scheduling" packet.

So why make and send a "Thank you for scheduling" packet?Sounds strange but sending your first time or even a repeat customer a small email packet of information just after scheduling but prior to the cleaning is a great customer service that will put you heads above the competition and here is why:


1. They get all the information they need from you up front without having to ask for it, or heaven forbid, forget to ask.

2. You create set boundaries and expectations from the start. The information to give them can educate the customer, allow you to work well together and they can know exactly what to expect.

3. It gives a fantastic first impression that you are a true professional. It can make them feel like VIP's and valued by you.

4. It gives them something to talk about even before you have done any service for them. You don't think they will mention this to family and friends and talk about what you are going to do for them. This positive word of mouth exposure is really valuable.

So what should be in your packet?

• A copy of your estimate and or agreement for service spelling out what you will cover and what it will cost. You can also, if you want, list add on services and prices that they might want to add. (Even if you have already offered them before during the estimate) • A list of what to do before you arrive (ex: Close windows, move furniture, remove potted plants) and if you have a fee, the extra cost for your crew having to do it instead, or if you might cancel part or scale back service because they did not comply.
• A guide listing the service they've chosen and what steps they may see you doing while working. (ex: Where you will park, how many workers should be there, where you will run hoses, pre-wetting plants and bedding areas, covering plants, or what ever your normal routine is) Helps prevent them from stopping you mid action asking, Why are you doing that?
• Common Q&A's customers have asked. Helps speed things up, and again so they are not stopping you from working to ask these when you get on site.
• Business information including office hours, phone numbers, and listing your cancellation policy one more time.
• Links to your website, and social media accounts.
• Link to your survey, to be completed once the work is done. (Make sure you have a nice automatic thank you email set up to send when they do.)
• Details of what your referral program is and how to participate. 

Setting up these packets to send out and using them can save you time, increase sales and make you even more desirable to talk about once you have given them a great cleaning.

Tags: Business, customer service, information packet

What are Virtual Phone Systems and should I use one?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 @ 12:29 PM

Today's technology is moving at a break neck speed with every week bringing new ideas and better ways to do things in your life and for your business.

It use to be that a business could not survive without a yellow page ad and some one sitting in an office ready to answer that phone call.

Then we moved on to where you did not have to have an office as long as you paid for someone, sitting who knows where, that would answer your phone (via transferred phone number) at a answering service that you could call into to get your messages.

Now you do not even have to have a person at all to answer any and all of your phone numbers, that will record messages and even get the person that is calling directly to the person or information they need just by following an on line phone tree.

In the past decade over a dozen Virtual Phone companies have started up and some are better than others, by either the services they offer or by their cost for the features offered.

Here is a list of the top 12 contenders that are out right now:

• Grasshopper
• VirtualCallSystem
• RingCentral.com
• InPhonex
• VoiceMeUp
• Callcentric
• Phone Power
• Jive Communications
• VoIP.com
• BroadVoice
• Ringio
• Halloo

Read more: http://virtual-phone-systems.bestreviews.net/grasshopper-reviews/#ixzz3QDgk4SUv

GrasshopperLogoSo why is Grasshopper on top? I will go over for you the pro's and any con's I could find of using Grasshopper virtual phone service for your business.

Pro's

•Takes number of phone lines and with the web connects them into one integrated system. Toll  free, landlines, mobile and even other VoIP accounts.
•No hardware is needed.
•Get a toll free or local numbers as needed. Even Vanity numbers.
•Lines can be added or removed immediately from an online dashboard.
•Incoming calls will be answered 24/7 usually at the first ring.
•Recorded greetings can be in your own voice or with their Voice Studio.
•Have more than one business? You can have different welcome messages for each.
•Free on hold music.
•You can pay for only what you actually use, per call and length of the call.
•Unlimited plans are available for high volume users.
•Free activation to start service.
•Free 24/7 live technical support.
•No long term contracts, month to month service.
•First 30 day money back guarantee.
•Can change plan up or down each month as needed,like with the change of seasons.

GrasshopperPlans
•A top customer service rating.
•Businesses no longer have to buy and supply phones for employees with dedicated phone  numbers.
•Any employee can use their own device to receive and even make business calls (with an app).
•Calls can be transcribed and e-mailed to a phone as they happen instead of having to be called  up and listened to at a later time by a user.
•Faxes from callers are sent as a PDF in an e-mail.
•Analytics that can tell you where and when each call came from and where it ended up.
•Calls can be set up to go to a call queue to go to and be answered by one person.
•Unlimited amount of call handling, no busy signals for customers.
•Information extensions, like mailing or e-mail address, hours of operation, etc.
•Block robo callers or solicitors numbers at any time.
•Call screening, caller ID by phone number and name.
•Call transfer if after you answer the call you need to send the caller to another person or voice  mail.
•Need to speak to all your crew managers at once but don't want to have them all come in for a  meeting, just make a conference call and talk with them where ever they all are all at once,  saving time and money.
•Employees can use a mobile app to make calls to customers that only shows your businesses  caller ID, NOT the employees phone info.

Con's

•On the entry level plan you are paying a base $12 then a per call per minute fee which can add    up if you or your customer are not mindful of the running clock and you start getting a lot of calls.
•Some customers calling in do not like having to first listen to a message and go through a phone  tree to reach you or leave a message, they want a person from the start.
•You may have to be mindful of an employees phone and plan limitations and make compensation  to an employee that is using their personal phone for your business if they can't use the mobile  app.
•Employee could misuse your paid out going phone number (that is part of an app) for their  personal calls.
•Since this service is 24/7 your phone could be going off at all hours and be hard for an "A" type  personality to turn switch the service off and stop working.

As you can see I could not find many Con's and looked on line for dissatisfied customers without much luck. I did find a few but for the majority of users they have been very happy with the service some for many years.

So if you want to give your business a larger than a single owner/operator appearance or a professional aire, I suggest looking into one of these especially Grasshopper.

Tags: Business, customer service, phones

Should you answer a customers question about the competition?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

I saw this come up in a Travel blog (Disney vs. Universal). Sould employees of one be allowed or banned from answering a question asked about the other? And thought it can easily relate to our business as well since it comes up for us at least a couple of times a week.

Now obviously you are not going to know your competitions actual prices, even if you do, you do not need to answer that one but simple questions should be answered as just good form and quality customer service.

Also you should try very hard not to bad mouth the competition nor give info you do not know as fact, just an easy I do not know would be fine.

For instance I am asked all the time if some other companies specific chemical is as good or better than one of ours or vice versa.

Question I usually answer by finding out and going over the products ingredients, their strengths, weaknesses, and how they work for the job the customer is wanting to get done. If they already have a product on hand that should do the job whether it is ours or not I will tell them. That is just good customer service and normally that caller will appreciate that and think of us again the next time they need a product we have that they need and will make a purchase.

It would do us no good to tell the caller they need our specific product to do the job right, then once they get it find out by the label, MSDS or other ways that they already had an item just as good, so they just wasted time and money waiting for ours. That contractor would most likely never want to buy from us again and would bad mouth us all over the place.

Same with your customer and the competition. If a customer asks if so and so also soft washes? or some one told them that using bleach is bad, or why are you more than so and so? Just honestly answer the question with what you know, educated them on the pro's and con's of a certain method or why your price also comes with added benefits and be ready to list them.

That customer will be much more likely to go ahead and use you and feel good about hiring you, your company and about passing along a great review to their friends and family.

Just like what the writer of the travel blog said. "Guests won't think less of Disney if its cast members answer questions about Universal. Quite the opposite: it reflects well on Disney when its cast members answer questions even when Disney doesn't stand to make buck from the response. Great customer service is work that creates value for a guest. If you're working only to create value for your company, you're not providing great customer service. But smart business managers know that if they and their employees provide great customer service, their business often ends up making more money in the long run than companies that put themselves ahead of their customers."

Be the bigger, better company and answer any question your customer asks, even if it is about the competition.

Tags: customer service, added value service, competition

Profit is all in the follow up.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 @ 01:56 PM

I have spoken in the past about customer service, referral programs, attending networking events and getting commercial jobs, but the one thing they all have in common to bring your business success is in learning how to do the follow up.

customerservice resized 600

The hardest thing after the initial terror of first contact is in the follow up, but that is where your business can be made or lost, right there.

Not every person that starts a pressure washing business or any business for that matter is a natural born sales person. Most would just like to be called, asked to do a job and then just go out and do it. But the calls are not just going to magically come in, most job opportunities must be created and nurtured by you, the business owner for them to happen.

It is always surprising that business owners go to the trouble to attend an event, exhibit at a trade show, send out a marketing piece that yields them business cards, filled out contacts or questionnaires and then they do nothing or little with them.

In too short of time these contacts will be lost or tucked away to never be used to generate the business they were intended to and why? Because these owners failed in the follow up. Follow up does not have to be scary, complicated or difficult. It only takes a simple call or short contact first as a refresher to start you on the road to more jobs and profit.

As soon as possible after you get the contact make your first follow up. Best if it in within the first 24 hours. It can be very brief and doesn't even have to ask for a job commitment. A simple "It was nice to meet you." Even if left as a phone message or in an e-mail, along with a promise to get with them soon about their shown interest in your business. Here is a great time to mention exactly what was discussed to help bring your contact back upm in their mind. Then once the promise is made, that becomes your next opportunity for follow up.

Remember the person you met also met many other people and businesses at that same time and just this short reconnect will bring you back up into focus in their mind and put you ahead of others when you do make your next contact. It takes 3-4 times of contact before most people will consider using you, even if they are interested in both your service and business in particular.

Next contact should be made giving the specifics about what you discussed with this potential new customer as promised. Here you can spell out the benefits of your service, who else you have worked for, and the positive results (the same ones this person is after), along with the cost. You do not have to start out with a special offer, unless one was promised or discussed at the first meeting. You may be successful right away with the customer paying full price for your service, so do not offer any deal until later if needed. Why give money away for no reason.

Once you have given them the information do not ask for the job, allow them to feel in control and let them have some time to go over the information you have given them. But you should not give them long or leave it open, you need to set up when and how the next follow up will happen. Will it be with you calling them again in the next two days? With you sending them an e-mail after the weekend? Try to make the next action still under your control. If they insist on being the one to contact you back, go ahead and agree but state that if you do not hear from them by a certain time, such as the next 7-10 days, that you will be contacting them again for the follow up. Statistics show that as many as 80% of new business is lost due to the lack of follow up by the potential customer.

The next contact is when you should ask for the business that was discussed that you provided the information on. It should be some thing like "Mr. Hall, are your ready to book the "service" we discussed on "date"?" If they say no try to find out what is the reason for their delay? Time isn't right, cost is too much, scope of work not exactly what they need right now. This is the time where you answer questions, make suggestions and if necessary make a special offer if cost is a factor, or offer a free service to go with the planed on, like cleaning the sidewalk or stairs with the house wash.  Even with a special offer put a short limited time for this opportunity to happen. You do not want someone to come back months later when you are busy and other customers are paying you full price asking for you to take the time to do a discounted amount of work. Tell them you can do this job this week because an opening has come up for this price but if they wait until a weekend or later in the month they will have to pay full price, reminding them that they do not have to be home for you to work.

Follow up is not just for new customers it is also important with your current customer base. Statistics show that as much as 60% of client loss is simply due to losing touch. The customer can't find your number, remember your business name to look you up from last year or they saw a competitors ad when ready for service again and doesn't want to take the time to contact you about matching it. It is ideal to try to touch your clients at least once every three months during the year, or in the 30 days just before the service they bought before would be coming up to be performed, such as Spring cleaning, Summer deck or pool deck cleaning, Fall gutter and roof cleaning. At least twice a year is the minimum you should try to make contact. Money is in the "Follow Up".

While follow up takes discipline, it is not hard and does not have to be frightening. Spending a little time putting together some simple keep in touch marketing campaigns by mail or e-mail, to foster your business relationships, with both prospects and clients will more than pay for themselves. Good luck with your follow ups.

Tags: marketing, business plan, customer service, Trade Show, referral program, follow up

Eight ways to build customer trust and loyalty

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, May 18, 2012 @ 10:51 AM

Everyone knows the way to build a business in through loyal customers, repeat business and referrals. But how do you know you will get these when you first work for a new customer? Here are eight ways to make it almost full proof.

1. Be a knowledgeable professional. Customers tend to trust contractors that are serious about the work they are doing. Demonstrate that you have a deep understanding about the industry and the special needs of the work entailed. This can be shown by certifications, being a member of organizations or associations that are linked to your particular job set.

2. Be yourself and personable. No one likes to feel they are being given a sales pitch from a used car salesman or manipulated into buying something they did not want. So instead of talking like a salesman, simply speak to them like a friend or colleague by just stating facts, letting them guide the conversation and make the final decisions with you only supplying suggestions and answering questions.

3. Be curious about the customer and value the relationship. People are drawn to and remember others who show true interest in them. Notice things that can become points of the conversation. Make notes of the points discussed to include next time, a crucial element of relationship building. You both must believe that you honestly have something of value to offer, to the customer and the business relationship.

4. Be consistent. A customer must build trust that you are going to do what you say and can believe it will be the same over time. Once a customer can predict your behavior, they are more likely to trust you and recommend you to others. This is why it is so important to only say what you know you can deliver.

5. Seek and say the truth. Trust comes when the customer feels you are working in their best interest not yours. Make it a point to discover areas where you can give them what they want or could need but never be afraid to tell them when something is out of your normal scope of work and may be better performed by someone else.

6. Have a real dialog. As mentioned before every discussion should be a conversation, not a sales pitch or lecture. Spend at least half of the time listening to what they need, want and are expecting for the results. Make sure that most of the conversations are about the business at hand and not just mundane chit chat, about the weather, etc.

7. Keep an open mind. You may know absolutely that this customer needs what you can provide and the exact best way to do it, but the customer may think you may be self serving and close minded about other options it they have reservations with your methods. Be willing to concede that there is more than one way to skin a cat and if they can not be put at ease with education about your processes, be open in telling them that they may be happier with someone else doing the work for them. They could sense you may have their best interest at heart and proceed. But even if they don't it is better to have a 100% satisfied customer who will work for you, than a dissatisfied customer that was left feeling slighted hindering your future business.

8. Show integrity. Take a stand for your company, even when it may be unpopular with your customer, but you do not have to become adversarial. Make decisions based on what you know that is right and legal. Do not do something for a customer you know is not kosher. And as stated before, never say you will do something you can not deliver.

Trust is only one part of the business customer relationship, but once gained it will help to improve your business ten fold. You must of course also have a service the customer wants and needs and will want to ask you to perform again for them and others going forward.

Tags: customer service, customer satisfaction, Customer trust

Leave more than just your good name behind after a service job.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 @ 09:30 AM

I hear about or see almost everyday where satisfied customers can not find the contractor that provided a great job or service for them.

Take this posted last year in a forum at http://www.thegrimescene.com/ as an example:

“Mildewed in Morton Grove, IL

About 5 years ago I signed on to this forum as my mom needed her cedar deck and fence washed and sealed. I found some great people who thankfully advised me to stay away from sealmax and others and hooked me up with a great contractor. The guy did a wonderful job but moved to Florida--he gave me another name and we rolled on. Now, Mom needs her deck and fence done again in a big bad way and I can find no one. I am just looking for an honest worker who will do a superior job. I know workmanship should not come too cheap and I put attention to detail above all. Anyone out there that could steer me in the right direction? Chris”

Here is a customer that would love to find the same person he last used and was recommended but can not locate the information since it has been so long ago.

So how can you improve the chance that you will be contacted for follow up business, one, three even five or more years down the line?

1. Leave a card or collateral print pieces behind when you leave. This can be a nice flyer with a tear off business info card area to be placed in a Rolodex or passed on to a friend. Least effective unless person is a neat freak or a pack rat.

2. Leave a useful promotional item like a magnet, note holder clip, jar opener, or any thing that has the potential of staying around for a long time to keep your name in mind and in front of your customer. I have a jar opener that is over 20 years old from a local hardware store.

3. Leave a business card, sticker, magnet or laminated info card near or attached to the work that was done. And be sure to tell the customer that you have done this. Great way to be used again.

4. Follow up contact with the customer by e-mail or mail. Number one way to get repeat and referral business, have a referral program in place and use it.

I know that the third suggestion sounds strange but here is where I have seen it work.

Take a deck builder that staples laminated business cards to the underside of the decks he builds in a number of places, including top stair risers and the anchor board against the house etc. and tells the owner he did this. He knows later, if any repair or extra work needs to be done, that owner or even the following home owner has a good chance using it or finding out who built the deck, gazebo, fence etc. Plus leaving your name lets the home owner know you stand behind your work.

I know our electrician puts his magnet on the inside of our electric fuse panel door. Or the AC furnace man that leaves his sticker on the back of the AC unit or side of the furnace for an easy return call for service.

The fourth item is the reason that yearly or quarterly informational post cards and seasonal e-mails to former customers help retain these customers as future income or as part of a great referral business. You need to keep your name and business fresh in past customers minds with out irritating them by contacting too frequently.

Don't underestimate the impact of the great work you have already done in bringing you new and repeat business.

Tags: business cards, customer service, referral

Be just 1% better than the competition.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 @ 09:00 AM

I just read some very interesting but true advice I would like to pass on to you.

It is better to be just 1% better for 100 reasons than to be 100% better for only 1.

If you take that philosophy with your business you will see that even little changes make a big difference.

For example if your biggest competitor is always giving a 10% discount to new or referral customers and makes a big point of it in their advertising, then you offer 11%. Not that discounts are the answer, I usually do not recommend them but rather suggest that you give bonus value instead. But you get the idea.

Sometimes you can not out do someone or something by even 1%, take "available by phone 24 hours as day" for an example. But you can offer a faster response time either for a call back or actual booked appointment. But you must be able to follow through on your claims so chose carefully. You could offer a superior brand of stain for deck work instead of the run of the mill that everyone else carries, this does not mean that you do not charge for it, just that you carry and market it as the best in the industry. You can offer free window cleaning with a house wash or complementary gutter cleaning with a roof cleaning. Anything that the customer perceives as you giving that extra 1% over and over during your job for them will make you stand out, get you referrals and more jobs.

Always leave the owners property better then you found it, and I do not just mean on the job you are being paid to do. I mean make sure you pick up all of your trash or even their trash that your cleaning uncovers, within reason. If your service included furniture removal and replacement for a deck or patio cleaning be sure it is put back correctly or better than you found it. It may cost you only a few extra pennies to rinse off those plastic planters, deck chairs or cushions to make them look better. Of course you can always offer side services for a complete through cleaning job on these items first. And you must be willing to do these sort of small jobs that take up extra time before you offer them to the customer. It does you no good to advertise that you offer these services and have to later, while on the job, refuse to do them because you have booked your time so tight that you can not accommodate them. No matter how much pre-planning you do or questions you ask, something else will always come up once you are in front of the customer.

But if you do that extra 1% for customers over and over it will pay off 100 times over.

Tags: marketing, customer service

Sign up for Newsletter by Email

Latest Posts

Posts by category