Note: This content has been updated; we want to provide you with the most up-to-date advice possible.
For those in the heating and plumbing industry, the winter season will no doubt be on your mind. Whether you’re already in it, or preparing for it, it means work...lots of work.
That's not something you should be worried about; work should get you excited! After all, in Winter, heating is a major priority for many customers, but it does mean that during the rest of the year it can often be forgotten about and so you'll be dealing with problems rather than installations.
Many people won’t have been turning on their heaters for some time, and that means any worn or degrading parts may have gone unnoticed, leading to unexpected breakdowns and replacements. While bad news for them, it is admittedly good news for your plumbing and heating business.
One of the best solutions that can help you keep in control of your diary and your monetisation strategy is a customer database and here, we'll look at four simple ways to make sure you're getting the best out of it.
- Have clear insight about your customers.
- Happy customers = a healthy bottom line.
- Don’t forget service work.
- Make chasing debtors easy.
The rush of work can be a great boon, but understandably it can also be a tense time for customers who—perhaps in the build-up to Christmas or post-New-Year—have been feeling the financial strain.
However, you also need to think about monetisation and your customers are a big part of that, so it will require a tactful approach. Fortunately, there's a way to gain insight and make sure you're approaching customers in the right, most effective way to benefit them and keep your business afloat.
With more work than ever, if you're not tracking things properly, organising repeat business or securing new sales, it can lead to financial casualties in what should be a lucrative season...
1. Have clear insight about your customers.
The more you know about your customers, the more effectively you can sell to them. Being able to see this data simply, clearly and in one place i.e. a single customer view, will help you make decisions faster and enable you to keep track efficiently.
Are they new, or a pre-existing customer? If so, how long have they been around for? Have they had a new boiler installed in the last few years? Depending on the answers to these questions, and more, it can help your Sales team (or even your engineers) decide when's best, or not, to pitch an upgrade or some other service.
However, if you can see that Mrs Briggs, for example, who had a faulty boiler but didn't/couldn't afford to replace it in March, you can get in touch in November to see if she'd now like it to be replaced.
The information you have to hand can be a powerful tool in your decision making arsenal. As such, a well-populated customer database, with up-to-date information, can help you make sure that every sale is a qualified sale.
2. Happy customers = a healthy bottom line
A happy customer is a buying customer. The more you know about your clients the more effectively you can communicate with them, especially if you’ve been able to build up happy relationships over a long period of time.
If that’s not the case though, it's never too late to start.
By working hard to craft the perfect customer journeys—made easier by having an accessible database that lets you access information whenever, wherever—you can resolve queries, arrange bookings, and solve problems much faster than before. This will lead customers to more positive experiences and give them an excellent service that’s sure to stick in their mind, too.
Even if you get to the point where, like most businesses, you'll have too many customers to know each of them personally, a coherent database can help.
If you fill your customer database with as much information about each individual person or property as possible, you'll have all the information you need at your fingertips.
3. Don't forget service work
Regardless of your primary focus, you probably install assets and appliances – and these appliances will eventually need to be serviced.
Service work is the bread and butter of the heating and plumbing professions, supplying a large portion of many businesses' incomes. But how do you guarantee that you're capturing all the service work available to your firm? A well-maintained customer database.
Let's say you install Mrs Briggs' boiler and it works beautifully (after all, you installed it)! Next year, to keep it in perfect working condition, it’s going to need a service. Keeping your customer database current means you'll know when her service is due and combined with automatic service reminders, you'll be prompted to ensure you never miss an opportunity to schedule an appointment.
That means a sustained warranty for them and money in the bank for you!
4. Make chasing debtors easy.
Unfortunately, every company occasionally comes across customers who just won’t pay. An estimated 34% of SMEs write off thousands each year in debts for services rendered because they do not know how to, or are too embarrassed to, chase the debt.
Services companies, which often rely on referrals and recommendations to gain new business, are even more vulnerable to customers who won’t pay—is it worth antagonising them? Will they rubbish the company's reputation in the local area they rely upon for all their business?
An up-to-date customer database can play a huge part in helping you recover these debts. If you know who hasn’t paid and they get chased in a timely manner, you can make sure you're being paid what you are owed.
Keeping a record of the correspondence between your company and a debtor customer also means that when it comes to queried invoices you have all the evidence in front of you—so if Mrs Briggs doesn’t pay for her new boiler, you can make sure you can get paid for your hard work!
So there you go, four easy ways to make the most of a customer database and even earn extra money whilst doing it!
If you're interested in building your own customer database, or want to improve the efficiency of your existing database, then we've got just the thing.
Click the following link to visit our page for the Complete Guide to Setting up a Customer Database where we've got more tips to help you out. However, if you're after a practical checklist to get you started right away, then click below to access your free download of The Best Practices for Managing Your Database!