Jim HughesIn an industry where it can be years between service calls, and replacements are 15 or more years apart, you need more than great customer service to keep customers coming back. The reality is that you can do everything right and the customer may not even remember who you are the next time they need service. Plus, since the average American moves every five to seven years, it may not even be the same person living in the home where you provided such great customer service. This makes it vitally important for the customer to think of your company the next time they need help. Here are some ways to make that happen.

Social Media

Social media is here to stay and if you haven’t already, it’s time to get on the bandwagon. People of all ages use social media to keep up with friends and families and it can be a great place to keep your name in front of your customers. You should be on as many social media outlets as possible. Encourage your customers to follow your posts and pages. Put links on your company website and offer coupons to customers who “follow” or “like” your pages.

Having a lot of customers following you won’t do any good unless you post regularly. Don’t limit your posts to dry tips about the business. Post things that your customers will find interesting like a quote or joke of the day. Avoid posting anything political, religious, or what might be considered provocative or in bad taste.

Start a Blog

Blogs are 300-500 word articles that are easy to start and can be linked directly to your website. Blogging is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and keep your name in front of your customers. Like social media, a blog does no good unless you update it regularly, at least once per week. Topics can be anything from “How to Save on Utilities” to “How to Stop Noisy Return Grilles.” Remember you are not writing a technical paper, so keep your explanations at a level your customers will understand.

If creative writing is not your strong point or you don’t have the time to make regular blog posts, there are companies who will do it for you. In most cases, you can provide the topics and they will craft and post the content for you. In other cases companies have prewritten content that you can purchase and post yourself.

Maintenance Agreements

Maintenance agreements have been around for decades yet the many companies who choose not to utilize them may be missing out on potential revenue and the ability to keep their names in front of the customer. Agreements usually provide for one or two inspections per year, offering a certain savings when repairs are needed. Beyond that they can include priority service, no overtime rates, savings on replacement systems, etc.

Keep your agreements straightforward and easy to understand. Avoid all the legalistic exclusions found on so-called standard agreements. It will only make it more difficult to enroll customers. Correct pricing is critical, especially if your company has a seasonal tune-up special. The agreement should be priced equal to or slightly less than the same number of tune-up specials. This will make it much easier to convert these specials into agreements and ensure that you keep your name in front of the customer.

Personalized Thermostats

The thermostat is the perfect place for your company name and phone number. After all, it is the first place people go when there is a problem. Before you grab a marker or label maker, there are major manufacturers that will imprint your company information directly on their thermostats. There is even one model available that will play a recording of your company name and phone number.

Using personalized thermostats presents a very professional appearance and can last long after the house has sold and a new customer is on the scene.

Service Stickers

The second place customers go when something isn’t working is the equipment. This is where they should find your company name on a large, easy-to-find service sticker. Most service stickers are paper and include a service log, which is fine for equipment located indoors in a dry environment. However, in cases where the indoor equipment is not easily accessible, or the equipment is outside, a vinyl, UV-resistant, or foil-based sticker should be used.

Don’t be afraid to use more than one sticker. On split systems, place a sticker on the indoor and outdoor units. Attach a sticker at the entrance of the attic or crawlspace, if that is where the equipment is located. Make sure your stickers stand out and can be easily found by customers. Avoid stickers that instruct the customer to try this before calling for service as they will probably do more harm than good before they call for help.

Private-Label Products

Unlike personalized thermostats, where your name appears in addition to the brand name, private-label products present your name as the brand name. Air cleaners, filters, and UV lights are just some of the products that can be privately labeled. In addition to keeping your customer familiar with your name, customers are less likely to compare your products to those found at big-box stores, because your products boast their own brand name.

Magnets and Other Promotional Gifts

People tend to hold on to refrigerator magnets. Magnets are commonly used to display everything from preschool art to this month’s gas bill. Given the number of times the average person visits the refrigerator, magnets are an extremely effective way to promote your company. So much so that some companies regularly offer to replace competitors’ magnets with their own.

Other personalized gifts can include pens, coffee cups, coasters, etc. Look for products that will be used often yet stand out. Coffee cups, for example, make a bigger impact than pens. Indoor/outdoor thermometers might be used for decades. A mouse pad or USB thumb drive can keep your name in front of your customer for years to come.

There is no one-and-done method that will guarantee your customers think of you the next time they need help. Be creative and try different approaches, but most of all, remember that small efforts over time often lead to huge results. If you keep your company’s name in front of your customers you will keep them coming back for years to come.

Publication date: 4/29/2013 

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!