Use In-Season Customer Outreach and Strategic Marketing To Secure Future Contracts
Invest in your future by thinking forward this snow season. After you’ve optimized your snow maintenance contracts, trained your staff, carefully selected storm day routes, and prepared fleet vehicles it’s time to shift your focus toward building valuable, long-lasting relationships with your customers. The chaotic pace of the snow season leaves little time to provide customer service follow-ups to your customers. However, where some see limitations, the forward-thinking snow maintenance contractor finds opportunity. Capitalizing on this opportunity, using small amounts of your time, will help you outperform the competition and build valuable, lasting relationships with customers, which can eliminate the need to bid against competition next season, lead to more non-snow-related jobs for your business, and gain more referrals for your snow maintenance services.
The Often-Overlooked Value of the Follow-Up
Short of doing the job right, following up with customers after the storm is the best way to secure relationships beyond the winter season. Often times, when customers are disappointed about specific service details, the contractor won’t hear about it. Instead, the disappointed customer just doesn’t hire that contractor the following season.
The forward-thinking contractor will follow up after the first couple storms with an email or phone call to gauge the customer’s satisfaction level. These follow-ups, especially early in the season, prevent disappointed customers by providing the customer the opportunity to express frustrations and giving you the opportunity to address them and restore the relationship.
In your follow-up emails, be sure to thank the customer for hiring your company – displaying gratitude is an excellent way to build a lasting relationship with your customer. Identify any challenges you faced specific to the customer’s property and what you are doing to resolve the challenges – if you are able to fix the problems internally, that’s great, but if not, property managers will appreciate being involved in the process. Most importantly, give the customer an opportunity to explain any concerns that they have.
Example follow up email:
Dear [property owner’s name],
We at [your company’s name] are very excited to provide snow removal services for your property this year. A couple challenges we faced clearing snow on your property during the last couple storms were [cars parked in the parking lot after hours] and [insufficient snow bank space], but we are currently working internally to make some adjustments on our end to mitigate those obstacles and provide a better service. If there is anything you can do to help us clear the parking lot of cars after hours, that would be very helpful to us in providing a better service.
I want to be certain that you are satisfied up to this point with the snow maintenance services we’ve provided. If there are any areas that we could improve, please let us know and we will address the concern immediately.
We deeply appreciate you hiring us for the season. We understand that you have many options, and we are excited to have the opportunity to be your snow maintenance service provider. We look forward to delivering great service for the remainder of the snow season.
In-Season Marketing to Build Your Client List Throughout the Snow Season
Often times, contracts or per-storm agreements are dropped during the snow season creating great opportunities to come to the rescue and build great relationships for next season. Some in-season marketing methods include posting signs for a few days after the storm advertising your services (with customer’s permission) and offering incentive programs for current customer referrals. Keep in mind that properties in close proximity to one another create great opportunities to maximize route efficiency. When you get leads from properties close to a current customer, offer a discounted rate due to their proximity to nearby accounts. The one caveat with mid-season account pickups is providing realistic expectations for the new customers up front. The newly picked-up properties may have to be a lower priority than your pre-season agreements. Clear, up-front communication in these scenarios can prevent dissatisfaction later in the season – your customers will appreciate both your honesty and your dedication to your earlier-contracted customers.
Make the Most of Your Post-Season Customer Follow-Ups
After the last snowflake has fallen is another great time to follow up with your customers. Thank your customer for choosing you. Ask them for any feedback that could help you perform better next year. Mention other services you provide. Ask the customer when they typically choose a snow maintenance provider and ask when would be the most convenient time to follow up next year – sometimes, your timing can be the most valuable marketing effort to secure a contract. Be sure to add the customer to your email list to offer services throughout the year. Send the customer a survey to rate your services and ask if they’ll provide a short testimonial explaining their experience working with you. You can later use the customer's rating and testimonial on your website and social media channels.
Here is a sample of an effective post-season follow up email:
Dear [property owner’s name], I want to extend my deepest appreciation that you chose [your company’s name] for your snow maintenance this season. Hopefully we delivered a satisfactory service throughout the season to keep your property clear of snow during storms. I wanted to mention that [your company’s name] offers a full range of additional services all year long including: landscaping, lawn maintenance, irrigation, outdoor living, water features, holiday lighting installation, and much more. If you have enjoyed working with us as a service provider and would like to discuss how we can improve your property’s appearance or maintenance, I’d very much look forward to that opportunity. We would also be pleased to provide snow services next season for your company. Could you let me know when you typically make decisions on service providers so that I can contact you at a convenient time next season?
Attached is a short survey. If you could please take the time to fill out the survey it will be deeply appreciated. These surveys help us identify any areas of improvement that will help us provide a better snow maintenance service.
To recap, here is a task list of small efforts performed during the season that will secure future contracts and assist in building your snow maintenance business year over year:
- Follow up with the property contact after the first couple storms. Identify any challenges faced, and give the customer the opportunity to express any dissatisfaction
- Follow up post-season to express gratitude for the contract, explain your interest in providing service next season, and collect valuable ratings and customer testimonials
- Capitalize on in-season marketing efforts by posting jobsite signs and offering incentives for customer referrals
- Add customer to you company’s email list and offer additional services during other seasons
- Follow up with customer at their mentioned convenient time the following season
It’s a challenge to put forth these efforts during the snow season. You’re tasked with route logistics, vehicle repair, employee management, and many other obstacles. However, those who invest the time to nurture customer relationships during the chaotic snow season will see their efforts recouped and build their client list year over year. Be a forward-thinker this snow season!
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