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.