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Reaching Out and Staying in Touch

July 12, 2002
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Imagine the following happening to you: A homeowner mentions to her neighbor that carpet cleaning is on her agenda that week. But she just isn't certain whom to phone.

Her neighbor replies that she had her rugs cleaned several months ago and was extremely satisfied with the job.

"They did wonderful work," she said. "Very professional! This guy made my dingy old carpeting look like new!"

The homeowner can't resist an endorsement like that, so she requests the company's name and phone number only to hear, "I can't recall their name. I'll see if I can find their business card when I get home."

Referral? Lost.

Income? Lost.

This scene plays itself out every day and, unless you are utilizing the many tools available to keep your company's name front and center, this is happening to you, whether you know it or not.

Let's discuss some of these tools. Many cleaners use the standard reminder cards to notify their client base when services are due. Generally, these are sent out twice a year. This is a fine approach, but there are many instances, like the one above, that require more frequent contact with your client base.

Company newsletters are an excellent way to stay in touch. Informative and educational articles regarding your services and their advantages, as well as entertaining information such as recipes, puzzles, etc., make this a wonderful option. Refrigerator magnets and business cards are tried-and-true staples to keep a place in the client's mind.

Event-driven postcards sent between reminder cards work well. Use your imagination here. For example, send out cards around the holidays. We sent out a Halloween postcard a few weeks prior to the holiday with the caption, "TREAT Yourself To Our Halloween Special! Don't be TRICKED by misleading 'Bait & Switch' ads!" You can use "Beach Ball" specials in the summertime, offering discounts for bookings during the slower months. Cards for Mother's Day, Father's Day, et al work well to keep your name in front of your clients.

One of the most valuable cards is the referral card. These cards provide an incentive for both your current client and a potential new one. Incorporate a discount on future services or cash-back reward for the existing customer, and include a percentage off the initial cleaning for the new customer. Simply put, the opportunity to secure a new entry in your database is a win-win situation for everyone. Leave several of these cards behind after every job.

Another important tool is the "thank you" letter. Always mail one out within one week of finishing the job, thanking the customer and telling them how much their business is appreciated. This goes a long way, more than you might think. Use the opportunity to enclose a few more referral cards.

When you do get a referral from a happy client, send them another "thank you" letter stating how much you appreciate the kind referral, and offer them a discount/reward on their next service.

As you can see, the opening act does not have to happen to you. Be creative and remember that one of your best sources of new business and advertising is your existing clientele.

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