If your sales leads are decreasing, it’s more important than ever to develop an effective marketing pipeline. A good marketing pipeline allows you to generate sales in an effective, consistent fashion. When working with potential clients, there is one thing we don’t control. We don’t control when potential customers make their decision to purchase our products or services.
Because we can’t control when our prospects buy, it is imperative that we follow-up with potential customers in a predictable and consistent way. We need to stay in their awareness on an ongoing basis so that when they are ready to move forward with their project, our name is there so that they remember to give us a call.
I have a good example of this. Almost two years ago, a service provider cleaned the carpets in my house. In addition to cleaning my carpets, he asked if my HVAC ductwork needed cleaning. Using a fiber-optic camera to show me how much construction debris remained from construction done several years earlier, he also got the job cleaning all the ductwork. I was very happy with the services he provided. Now, almost two years later, I want my carpets cleaned again. The problem is that I don’t have his card, can’t remember his business name, and he has never called me back. If he took just a few minutes to call me, he would have another job.
I use this example because I think remodelers can forget how important it is to follow-up not only with past clients, but with anyone that has expressed an interest in your products or services. To develop an effective pipeline, the first order of business is to put together a list of all past clients as well as a list of prospects who have asked about your services and whom you have qualified so that you know that they are a real prospect. It’s so important to develop this list, and to keep updating it on a regular basis. What makes this so important is that when your work flow begins to show signs of slowing, you want to institute a consistent follow-up program to remind people that your doors are open and you are there to assist them with all their home improvement needs. Try to collect all of their contact information, including e-mail addresses. Then, make sure that you send some kind of communication at least once every 90 days.
What you send them is where this gets interesting. Here is what I recommend:
- This is a seasonal suggestion, but because it’s spring, send out a simple checklist that potential customers can use to get their homes ready for warmer weather. This checklist can remind them to check for any exterior paint that may need to be touched up. Let them know they should clean their gutters so that gutters work when the rains start coming. Put together a good list to assist people with maintaining their home, and let them know you can assist them with this work. If its work you don’t do, make sure you have a good referral resource that you can use when customers call for help.
- Will any past customers allow you to host an open house? Potential customers in these neighborhoods would love to see what you have done. Set up open houses to showcase your work.
- Host a seminar on how to pick a good contractor in the neighborhoods you work in. When I was still remodeling, I hosted programs like this at the local elementary school and the public library. I never had less than 10 people attend. This provided a service to local homeowners, and established me as an authority in the area. Each of these attendees went into my prospect database for follow-up.
- Have you heard of “dumpster day?” Bowa Builders in Northern Virginia would let neighbors of a project know at the end of the job that they had room left in their dumpster for any trash that neighbors wanted to get rid of. They would also assist neighbors with getting trash from their house to the dumpster.
You can be creative with this. What would be a benefit to potential customers? Make it interesting, and your customers will respond. Here is one more thing. Pipelines take time to work. Consistent follow-up allows you to maximize your exposure to potential customers in your pipeline. No less than four times a year. Work your pipeline, even when business is good. The long range value is having not just 25 or 30 people in your pipeline, but 100 or more. With consistent follow-up, some percentage of those potential customers will continue to convert, and you can begin to manage your budget and sales in a more predictable fashion. You will also sleep better at night.
Dave Lupberger is a founding member of the Remodelers Guild, a former remodeling contractor and the author of the Turn-Key System for Remodelers program and Managing the Emotional Homeowner. He can be reached at (888) 818-6614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.