It’s every business’ desire to have as many streams of incoming revenue as possible. However, the reality is you’ll need to do some leg-work to secure these often lucrative sources of reliable, recurring income.
Fortunately, with a little preparation, mixed with fine-tuned communication, and a dose of digital automation, you can piece together a quality strategy to help you out.
While you may have an idea already of what the perfect source of recurring income is for your business, and, while we’ll leave the specifics down to you—whether you’re a plumbing, gas, electrical, or HVAC company—it’s likely a type of servicing job.
While not necessarily the most lucrative jobs on their own, they can add up significantly, but only if you’re making sure to book them regularly and consistently, which is the challenge.
So, while we don’t doubt you’re doing a great job on the service appointments themselves, you may find you could benefit from a little guidance on strategy. With the info we’ve prepared below, you can create appointment reminders that your customers can’t ignore!
- Adopting a strategic mindset for adding reminders
- What is a source of reliable recurring income for plumbing, heating, and other field service businesses?
- What can prevent tradespeople from earning more reliable income from service work?
- How do you politely send a service reminder letter, or better yet, an email?
After you’ve finished reading, and to help you take these steps, we’ve also prepared a free appointment reminder template + guide that you can download and put into practice!
1. Adopting a strategic mindset for adding reminders
If you’re a plumber, electrician, HVAC installer, or other field service specialist, you’ll know from experience that you often get paid for the work you complete, rather than, say, a salary equivalent of an office or admin worker.
There’s a lot to be gained from this, but one downside is having to deal with less certainty for your income and, especially in more economically troubling times, more anxiety.
While both methods of payment have their positive and negative merits, it’s certainly no secret that many engineers or handymen/women enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working in the field, as well as making schedules to fit their own needs.
So, to give yourself the best chance of staying afloat, it helps to have a strategy in place that ensures you’re winning even the most straightforward sort of work. Simply put, the strategy comes down to pricing, and how you're working to win more jobs, and scheduling to fulfil them.
This way, you can start to put together jobs that can act as the bread and butter not only for the business, but for yourself and the employees you’re responsible for and help keep your ahead above water.
2. What is a source of reliable recurring income for plumbing, heating, and other field service businesses?
The reason why many tradespeople often go from feast to famine when it comes to the number of jobs they have to do is because they treat the ebb and flow as the status quo. True, there's "seasonal work" and the "busy periods" to contend with, but a forward-thinking leader can channel that energy to discover a better, more profitable strategy than simply waiting around.
Gas and boiler works are a great example.
There are very, very few of us who would, in the middle of summer, think “You know what would make this warm, stuffy house even better? More heat.” (That said, I did have the heating on once this summer... we do still live in the unpredictable UK, after all). However, engineers will generally see an uptake in their workload just before and during the winter months because that’s when people tend to actually use these systems more frequently.
During the spring and summer, it's almost out of sight and out of mind, but in actual fact, these are the best times to get systems checked, appraised, and ready so everyone can rest assured they’re ready to go when they’re needed.
This doesn’t mean you have to shrug your shoulders and wait around during slump periods: it's the perfect time to prep for service work.
Making sure that you’re set-up to contact customers and remind them that a service needs doing (or would be wise to check) can encourage them to book in and get things sorted before a bigger problem develops, or goes completely undiagnosed until disaster strikes.
This goes hand-in-hand with helping you provide quality planned preventive maintenance, which can be especially lucrative for those of you working on bigger commercial contracts, but it also helps to adopt this approach for the smaller domestic jobs you can churn out week after week.
Offering regular service work is the perfect source of reliable income for tradesmen of every shape and size. Any appliance you install can benefit from regular service to ensure that it runs properly, doesn’t use up more power than it should, and lasts for a long time. These are all advantages you can present to a customer in order to up-sell them on a future service, when you’re doing the actual installation.
Giving customers a nudge to book a service is also a great way to build your relationship with them; it demonstrates a customer-centric approach and that you’ve got their best interests at heart and, at the very least, reminds them that your business is there to help, should they need it.
Many people will say “yes!” on the spot, especially if you say something along the lines “service your alarm system with us now, and we’ll give you 10% off next year’s appointment”. That way, not only do you fulfil an immediate need, but you incentivise them with a promise to become a loyal, valued customer who might be eligible for preferential treatment.
3. What can prevent tradespeople from earning more reliable income from service work?
In theory, service work sounds like the perfect arrangement. But realistically, not every service reminder you send out is guaranteed to end with you getting paid.
However, contrast adopting a proper strategy vs. going the old fashioned way of “doing it when it suits you” will certainly help you win more consistent work. In addition, getting organised can even help you win back more time to carry out bigger, more lucrative jobs to ensure you’re not just relying on smaller jobs as a primary source of revenue.
This being said, there are two major reasons why service work gets a bad rep in the trades business:
"Recurring income is low-value."
Maintenance and check-ups are, indeed, the cheapest items on the menu, when it comes to a field service business, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable to the client.
You can’t put a price on peace of mind.
What’s more, these services add up. If you experience those drought periods we’ve mentioned, scheduling all your service work to fill in the time can earn you a nice profit – since you’re not postponing more valuable jobs to do it – and save you from having to lay-off people until busy times resume.
"Service jobs are boring."
Sure, changing filters and tightening screws isn't necessarily exciting, but they're straightforward and uncomplicated. Your engineers can see these less stressful jobs as a great opportunity to interact more with customers and provide a remarkable experience. The better impression they make, the likelier that customer will hire you again, perhaps for that big renovation project they’re planning?
Of course, not all your income can be recurring, but that’s where the role of your sales and marketing strategy (or smarketing) comes in. Together, they can ensure there’s always a supply of new customers to keep the cash flow healthy.
However, if you ever find yourself unable to spend money on smarketing, or if there's something stopping new customers from coming to you, reliable recurring income is the cushion you need to fall back onto. It can be as simple as setting up a few emails that go out yearly to remind customers of all the ways you can help them improve their life and gain peace of mind.
📚 Learn more: Why Your Database is Essential for Customer Retention
4. How do you politely send a service reminder letter, or better yet, an email?
Never underestimate the power of an email!
Though there are many methods to send service reminders out, (like text, post, or leaflets), an email is now often the most common way to contact a customer.
With a service reminder email, you not only make it easy for customers to instantly see what you’re offering, but can provide opportunities to guide them to a quick solution. If you’re using an online booking system, you can link messages and enable quick responses that not only highlight the promise you made of a discount (as before), but let them make a booking on the spot (and so keeping them away from you competitors) thanks to an online booking portal.
The usual problem with a service reminder message is often down to the content itself. If you’re pressed for time, which admin teams often are, they can forget to set a reminder and end up rushing to send messages that aren’t as professional or as helpful as you might’ve hoped for.
That’s where having automatic reminders go out via digital software is the ideal situation. This way, every customer gets their reminder right on time and, thanks to preset templates, can see a consistent, professional, and customer-focused notice that’s personal to them.
Below, we’ve prepared a short template of what a service reminder can look like, and don’t forget to download your copy of the guide and further templates on offer, for free, below. It’s our small way of helping you craft appointment reminders that are polite, convincing, but as straightforward as possible. Here’s some general guidance:
- Keep it short and friendly.
- Make the deadline of when to book the appointment by clear.
- Keep designs simple: don’t overthink it with garish colours or out of place images (that people with visual impairments could find difficult to perceive!). Your logo, a simple font, and black text on a white background is your go to here.
- Offer a bit of context to show it’s personal to the customer i.e. what appliance you’re referring to and when you installed it (this is easy if you’re using software with a well maintained customer database).
- Provide all the necessary contact details (phone, address, email, Facebook link, etc.).
Offer a discount if they book the service i.e. in the first three days after receiving the appointment reminder message.
- If possible, provide a link they can make a booking from to speed up the process.
The Takeaway (+ an appointment reminder message template)
For the text itself, below we’ve written a simple outline that you could send to a private customer:
Mr & Mrs Smith
123 Fake Street, Glasgow, Scotland
Dear [Customer name],
Your electrical installation service is due on the 12/03/21. It is important to regularly service your appliances to maintain your warranty and keep them working smoothly and efficiently.
Appliances that aren’t serviced regularly can cost you more in your energy bills as they operate inefficiently. Our company is specialised in electrical services and we will be happy to service the appliance early and include a 5% discount on the service cost. Valid until 01/07/2020.
To look after your [name of appliance] properly, please give us a call on [number].
As mentioned, if you’d like to download our complete guide to creating the perfect service reminder, as well as two fully-formatted, editable, Word (or Google Doc) service reminder message templates (one for private customers and one for property managers), click the button below! Don’t lose out from reliable, recurring revenue for your service business.