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Happy Holidays from Soap Warehouse

Posted by Trey Miller on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 @ 02:07 PM

Happy Holidays to you all. Hope you all had a profitable year and we look forward to working with you in the New Year. 

Now for many this is the start of your slow time or winter break and you may think you have nothing much to do but sit around and wait for the temps to get warm again next Spring. Well you are sorely mistaken if you want to improve and even build your business through out the Winter months. Here are some steps to make sure your New Year is a good year.

1. Do your budget for the New Year. See what you spent this past year. What was more than you expected? Less? Can you make changes next year that will gain you ROI? Stop doing things that are losing you money. If you can't stop them totally, then change them so they won't be the money pit to your budget they are now. As I mentioned in a previous post, now is the time to shop around for phone service, insurance, equipment for next year. Be sure to include a 5% increase from what you spent this year on every line item in your budget. This way even if the cost of a few things don't go up during the course of the year the ones that do can have funds moved from others without undo stress of looking for that money. It may not be perfect but it will help. 

2. Work on your collateral marketing materials, purchase new clients give-a-way items, update, improve or start a customer referral program. Did the items you handed out last year get you new customers? What worked and what didn't? Don't beat a dead horse and by another 1000 imprinted rulers if you did not earn back their cost. Try something new instead. Got an item like your business card magnets that got to a 600% return on their cost? Double your order for this year and hand out even more!! Good tried and true items for this are: Business card magnets, Note pads, Pens, Clips magnetic or other wise for papers or bags, calendars, and other useful household items like rubber disk lid openers.

 3. Up date your web site. Up load newer B&A photos from this years jobs you haven't had the time to get done. Potential customers may visit your site 3-5 times before deciding to call or fill out your on line form for an estimate. Seeing that you are working, adding new photos and gaining more testimonials may sway that person to go ahead and try you instead of someone else. Adding a blog and keeping content current gets you better SEO. If you do not have a testimonial page or area on your site yet, ADD ONE. nothing convinces a potential customer more than reading statements from satisfied customers. Add video to your site. Action segments do not have to be long and having a professionally produced video will look even better. We use a company called iMotionvideo.com. You can either buy single videos one at a time or like us join their video membership club and have a new video produced each month.

4. Update your customer contact list, e-mails and phone numbers. Check to see if any past customers did not use you this year and try to contact them to find out why. You can send out an email survey to all those contacts to see if they moved, didn't think they needed service this year, went with someone else do to price. Send out a Holiday Greetings E-mail message saying you missed them this year and hope they are doing well. Be sure to send all new customers a Thank you holiday message or New Years savings offer to try and pre book as much work as possible now for Spring. Remember give added value offers not percentage off offers for best results. For example: Book your Spring house cleaning before Feb 1, 2013 and get a free gutter cleaning, or window washing or mail box cleaning. What ever you think is incentive enough for your customers to schedule now instead of waiting until Spring. Make sure you evaluate what worked or did not work last year and possibly increase your enticement. Update or improve on your customer referral package. Send out cards or e-mails offering free services, gift cards, etc for new contact information of friends and family. When these new contacts buy be sure to full fill your referral promises quickly to promote additional referrals coming in.

5. Plan now to network by attending local and National industry events in the coming year. If you go ahead and schedule them into your yearly calendar you can know how much business you will need to book before and after them to still make your monthly budget numbers. Also explore improving or expanding your business with new offerings by learning or becoming certified with new skills. Check out the industry organization web sites, forums, and on line industry magazines to find these opportunities. Many are available during these slower Winter months. If you stop learning you stop growing as a person and a business.

I hope all of you get some much needed family time off this Winter season but also be sure to follow these suggestions and you will have plenty of business to keep you busy all next year.

Tags: Business, marketing, network, business plan, referral program, testimonials, analysis, calendar, budget planning, web site

Asking Brown Derby Users for feed back.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Nov 03, 2011 @ 12:50 PM

We are starting out November asking the users of our most popular truck wash product "Brown Derby" to send us comments, testimonials, before and after photos, results you made happen for your clients and even video clips telling us what you like about using Brown Derby.

brown derby resized 600Brown Derby SDK (Small) resized 600

And as appreciation for the responses, we will offer up to 20% off product costs on your next order placed before December 31, 2011. Good on any of our products not just Brown Derby. This offer of course can not be combined with other customer discounts or used on shipping. Amount of discount will vary between 10-20% depending on the amount and type of the response.

We hear all the time from our customers that they love using Brown Derby but we would like to learn specific information, a detailed account and results for clients so that we can use them later in promoting this great product.

So if you have used "Brown Derby" in the past or are using it now, weather you bought it directly from us or even just through one of our customers, go to http://bit.ly/BrownDerbyStories and tell us your Brown Derby stories.

Tags: Brown Derby, testimonials

Referral Programs, Why they work.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 06, 2011 @ 11:53 AM

Word-of-mouth is the best advertising. 

Although this is a familiar saying, most contractors do not use the very people who create the best word-of-mouth advertising - satisfied customers. It's important that once you have satisfied your customer that you then learn how to use this satisfaction for a referral and/or reference programs. You can literally turn their enthusiasm and their contacts into new jobs and profits for your business.

There are two distinctly different types of programs - a Referral program and a Reference program. Both can help you capitalize on your customers' satisfaction. 

Referral Programs

In a referral program, you ask your satisfied customers to share your business information with neighbors, family and friends who might need services from you. In exchange for these referrals, you give your customers a reward. In most instances, monetary awards will work the best, but future free or reduced service costs can also be an incentive. These monetary rewards do not have to be large rewards to be useful, even a reward as small as a $20 or $25 gift card can work. Plus these do not have to be given up front but only as incentive for a positive outcome. If you do not see the referrals and the jobs you do not pay anything out. And of course with free added job service in the future you have no immediate cash outlay at all.

While referral programs can be effective, they do have one major drawback. Some people feel very uncomfortable about giving out information or approaching friends and family. Because of this, you must be careful and watch your customers’ reactions when you first ask if they'd like to be a part of your referral program. If they have a negative reaction to your request, do not try to overcome their objections. Tell them that you understand their feelings, and then change the subject.

Still, there are some good reasons to start a referral program. Some customers will be happy to participate. Plus, referral programs are very easy and inexpensive to initiate and administer.

There is another advantage to asking your customers for their referrals. It's a good way to find out if your customers are truly satisfied with the work your company has done. If you discover that none of your customers are willing to act as referrals, you should re-examine your work. Are you making promises you can't keep? Did you create expectations that you couldn't - or didn’t - meet? Did your technicians do a good job? Did they clean up after themselves when the job was completed? Before you ask your customers to participate in your referral program, or give you a refference you have to decide which kind of program would be best for your business. There are two types of referral programs you should consider.

In one type of program, you ask your customers to give you the names, phone numbers or e-mails of the people they know who might be interested in using your services. Once you have the list, you contact the referred names and try to set up your free evaluation appointments. Using your customer's name in the introductory process of your phone call, it could go like this:

 “Hello, Mrs. Green? My name is Jim Sample from ABC Sample House Washing. We just finished work for your friend Mrs. Winter and suggested I call you. She said you might be interested in hearing about having your house and roof washed. I’d like to make an appointment with you - at your convenience for a free evaluation. What day would work best for you?"

An e-mail might be just as short but could also include links to your site or to a pre set landing page.

Dear Mrs. Green,

I am Jim Sample from ABC Sample House Washing and your friend Mrs. Winter gave me your e-mail address and suggested I contact you. She thought you might be interested in having your house and/or roof washed like she just did. I’d like to direct you to our web site where you can learn more about my company and our services. We offer a free, no obligation home evaluation and I would like to set up a time at your convenience to stop by. The web site is www.ABCSampleHouseWash.com, and my phone number is 1-800-555-1234.”

The second method is to ask the customer to recommend or reference your company to their friends and family, by leaving them business cards or tri-fold brochures. When these friends and family members call you, they mention your customer's name. If the referral purchases services from you, your customer receives the reward. Many find this less intrusive than the first and this type of system is used much more effectively than the first.

But in both instances immediate action after the service is performed is critical. A satisfied customer is most likely to make a referral for you with in the first 48 hours following the service than is any other time. So try to include time urgency to your referral offer. Like a higher monetary gift amount or larger free next service if the new customer responds in the allotted time frame, say next 72 hours or three days.

How To Start A Referral Program

1. When you finish a job ask your customer if they would be willing to act as a referral for you. If they are interested, explain how your referral program works.

2. Leave a form for the customer to fill out - with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the customer to give you the requested information. Make a note in your calendar to call the customer in seven to ten days if you have not received his referral list. You could instead offer the customer a web landing page to fill out this information thus saving printing and mailing costs and receive a possible higher and faster return than old the hand written method.

3. If your customer does not wish to fill out a form for the first type of program, explain that he can recommend, or give out your company and services as reference, directly to his friends and family by using the provided cards or pamphlets. Make sure they understand that if they want to receive the reward, the referrals must mention their name when they call you to make their appointment and they must receive a service for the referral reward to be paid. Contact alone is not enough, purchase must be the result.

4. Always fulfill your customers reward promptly for their referrals, with a thank-you card when the referral turns into a customer. The past customer will be more likely to continue once they know the promise of reward will be properly acted on.

At the Very Least, Ask for Testimonials

You may find you have a very satisfied customer that states they have no friends or family locally or do not want to participate in either program. In this case ask for them to give you an oral or written statement about your work. You can give them a satisfaction survey card to fill out and give back or mail to you with a fill in the blank portion where these customers can write their comments that you can then use as testimonial statements. You can also do this in a follow up e-mail to them, with in the 48 hours discussed earilier, asking for their feed back on your service.

Pictures speak louder than words,

is also a very well known saying, but still very true. Even if you never got the first taker for a referral program, you can still use your satisfied customer’s property and the job you performed to get you future work by taking pictures.

Before and After photos shows potential customers what you can do for them without words. They can see for themselves the results you have produced for others. Never miss the opportunity to take high quality photos of every job you do. You can take long views that include your equipment in the picture, include your uniformed technicians performing the work, and close ups of the dirty vs. clean surfaces. Always make sure it can be recognized as being the same area or location and if possible in the same light, even if you have to drive back by a few days later. You want no doubt that the photos are the same property. Videos are also becoming more of the norm and taking the time to invest in creating some and posting them on your site and even on Youtube will be worth it.

Besides verbal testimonies, visual testimonies are the most influential single element for potential new customers.

Tags: business plan, referral program, reference program, customer satisfaction, testimonials

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