The goal of any construction firm or contractor is develop a loyal customer base. You want to be the first person or company a customer will think of and go to when they have a project that needs to be completed. These loyal clients will trust you and will give you contract after contract at your price.
The construction industry is full of competition, especially as the industry is slowly recovering. Most of your competition are excellent firms or contractors in their own right. They often offer a very competitive price to yours. It is difficult to make yourself standout in the construction industry, so the question is, how do you develop a loyal customer base?
Here are some tips to developing a loyal customer base:
Spend at least a third of your time face-to-face with your customers in relationship building sessions. Some good examples of this would be: meals, industry meetings, sporting events, or spending time with community organizations. Make your customers are a priority and schedule them into your calendar. Try to schedule three meals a week or more with current or potential customers. It is important to be in a relaxed setting with the customer in order to get to know them better.
2. Help Customers
Look for ways to help your customers and treat them like a business partner. Before meeting with them, do some research and make a plan of how you will be able to help them be more successful. Send things to your customers quarterly that will help their bottom line such as: books, whitepapers, articles, or even just updates on supplier or industry news. With these items, send a note or email about how this can help them or say that you thought this would be useful. Sending theses things, even are if they are small, will help reinforce your relationship. People like to help those that go out of their way to help them.
3. Maintain Constant Customer Contact
Trust is built up over time. Trust requires regular one-on-one contact, conversations, memories, and fun. The construction business can cause many distractions due to the pressure of project deadlines and the pressure of completing projects. Sometimes taking time to build relationships with customers is the first thing in your schedule that is cut out when you are short on time.
Track your business relationships to help avoid this. A good way to start is to make a list of your recent customers (customers from the last 2-3 years). Segment these customers into groups such as: repeat customers, old customers, one time only customers, target customers (prospects), etc. Next, rank them based on your experiences with them. Ask yourself how hard or easy they were to work with and the potential for them becoming loyal.
4. Spend Time Top Prospects and Customers
After you make your rankings, try to spend more time with the highest ranked customers. Commit to seeing these customers at least every two to three months. Keep track of every time you meet. Document how the meeting went and what you did. Note any potential business opportunities or anything big that is happening with their business or their personal lives. The more you can learn about your customer the better. Your goal is ultimately to convert prospects into repeat customers. After that, you want to change repeat customers into loyal customers who will only use your company for all their construction needs.
Timing is everything no matter what business you are in. Being in the right place at the right time isn’t always luck. Making customer relationships a priority will help your company land more jobs because your customers will be more likely to come to you if they have a problem. If you have built trust with them, they will seek your advice and will ask for your feedback before they seek out bids.
6. Care About Their Business
Customers want to know you care about their business, their challenges and their lives. Use your records of your meetings. Become familiar with their lives. Ask them questions. Document their hobbies, goals, vacations, activities and other major life events. Try to listen more than you speak and soak up as much information as possible.
Overall, the most important factor into building a loyal customer base is trust. Taking the time to build relationships with your customers will not only lead to happier customers, but it will also help your bottom line. Satisfied and loyal customers are much less likely to make a switch. Keeping a customer is a lot less expensive than acquiring a new customer. Loyal customers also become your biggest advocates and will be much more likely to refer your business to a friend.