Out of sight, out of mind is such an old saying, but it is oh so true, even today. How many times do you forget to do something (like go to the grocery store) until you get home and the empty fridge jogs your memory?
That’s a pretty lame example, but a more relevant one involves a social event I attended last weekend where I crossed paths with a client. About a year ago we installed a Krell amp and a basic Marantz turntable in his house. The client was into the idea of building a vinyl library but hadn’t done it yet, so we didn’t splurge on a high-end turntable. The install went smoothly last year and we hadn’t been in touch since. Fast forward to this past weekend at the social event, client Adam mentions that he now has a library of more than 70 albums and has been shopping around for a new turntable and maybe a speaker upgrade for his budding collection, as well as possible video upgrades for his kids’ rooms.
He said that he had visited a couple of retail specialty stores in NYC but hadn’t called me. He couldn’t really verbalize why he hadn’t called us. He said he definitely wants to work with us, was extremely happy with our install, but that he just started poking around in stores to get some ideas. We agreed to schedule an appointment with him and his family for us to come over and do another assessment (which he volunteered to pay for) and then provide recommendations for upgrading his system. If I hadn’t run into him, this would have been an opportunity lost.
How did it come to the point that a satisfied and happy client almost went elsewhere? Out of sight, out of mind. It’s that simple. Over the past 6-12 months, business has been booming and we’ve been working hard to keep up with new work coming in. Some back-office procedures have slipped, particularly marketing. Historically we had an outreach program to reconnect with former clients every quarter, semi-annually, or annually, depending on the categorization of the client. That is one of the things that have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Now that I have had this rude awakening, I vowed to myself to get back on the marketing horse.
How can you maintain contact with clients without spending your entire night making phone calls or sending emails? It isn’t too hard.
First, you need to develop categorizations based on various factors. You can use whatever criteria work for you and your business. Some key questions to ask are:
Did the client defer any work during the initial or subsequent installs due to budget or other reasons?
Does the client’s equipment need to be upgraded physically or due to firmware?
Have new products come to market that will make the client’s life better?
You can also base it on size of the client, geographic proximity to your office, or any other metric that works. Then decide on different contact methods. Maybe lower priority gets a semi-annual email (check out Constant Contact or MailChimp to send bulk marketing emails in a matter of minutes), medium priority gets a more “personalized” email and high priority (maybe the top 10) gets a phone call.
Whatever your strategy and methodology, just make sure you stick with it, and your business will grow. With repeat business, you are rarely competing against another integrator so your pricing won’t be squeezed and you’ll be confident of winning the work and keeping a happy client happy.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installationin New York City.