Repeat customers are the holy grail of any business, including your HVAC business. You invest in marketing to acquire them once, and then they keep coming back to you again and again to get more service from you over the years. A strong base of repeat customers creates profitable cash flow to grow your business.

So, how do you turn customers into repeat customers? Here are four immediate changes you can make in your business to create repeat customers who call you (and only you) every single time.

1. Change Your Mindset — As air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration specialists, it’s tempting to think of your service as a commodity. It can seem like you’re only called when needed, while your price-sensitive customers may not see the difference between you and your competitors.

Switch your thinking to this: You’re not a commodity; you’re an essential service, and customers are calling when they desperately need their homes to be made safer and more comfortable. This simple change elevates how you feel about your business, and that will transform how you and your team deliver your service to your customers.

2. Build a Culture of Service — The most powerful way you can make a difference in someone’s life is by serving them. This is true in your personal and business relationships. Rather than viewing customer service as something you tack onto every visit to a customer’s home, embed a deep level of service throughout your entire business.

Build a framework for service that lists the sequence of interactions you have with every customer — from your earliest marketing efforts all the way through the service call and beyond — and ask yourself: How can I serve my customer at a higher level at this step in the relationship?

For example, when my experts are on their way to a customer’s house for a scheduled appointment, the expert will call the customer and offer to pick up a coffee for them. It’s a little thing, but, taken together with everything else we do, it makes a big difference.

3. Be the solution — Many HVAC professionals who’ve been in the industry for a while tend to pick up bad habits; they’ll swoop into a customer’s house, spot the problem, and describe what needs to be fixed, all while speaking in industry jargon the customer doesn’t understand. This innocently develops out of your expertise, but it’s a problem because it doesn’t serve the customer — it actually separates you from the customer.

Instead, be the solution: Show up at the customer’s house and listen closely to them. Ask questions, assess the situation, and sit down and talk with the homeowner in a way he or she understands. Explain your diagnosis and offer a couple of different options for them to choose from. Customers love this and they want it, which means they’ll want it again when they need the same service later.

4. Be Proactive — After you’ve served your customer, don’t sit back and wait for them to call when they need your service again. Instead, schedule in your calendar to call them back and see if they need any other service. In fact, make recommendations of service they might need. Go one step beyond: Find reasons to call your customers to serve them (not necessarily to sell them something). For example, if a big storm is blowing into the area, we’ll call our customers and remind them to shut the windows and stay safe.

Do you want more repeat business? Start with these four simple changes. They can be implemented into your business immediately, and you’ll see a profound long-term change in how your business retains more repeat customers.

Publication date: 9/14/2015

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