Your customer list represents the majority of your future income. Don't leave it unattended. To make money from your customer list, you must make regular contact.

Studies show that 55 percent of the customers you lose leave because you paid them no attention. Another 16 percent leave because they got a competitor's offer. That's 71 percent who really leave you for the same reason: You weren't there but your competition was. There's no need to let that happen. Staying in touch ensures a higher "top-of-mind" rating with customers.

Examples of regular contact include sending those on your customer list a customer survey, thank-you card, or call. You may also send a maintenance agreement letter, preseason or postseason special, customer-discount-only postcard, free or discount service offer, or make "happy calls" following a service.

By far, the kind of contact that is most useful to the customer and most efficient for you is through a good, strong newsletter program. We can send you a free sample with a call, fax, or e-mail.

Now is the time to make sure you remind customers that they have a heating and cooling company that cares. Customers who get that reminder tend to buy more, buy faster, pay more, and refer more. Isn't this a good enough reason to stay in touch?

Remind customers of your value and reward them with thanks. They'll reward you with their needs and those of friends.

Media Watch

September is the beginning of your customer retention push. This means sending newsletters to your active customer base (activity within last 60 months).

Newspapers: Cooler climates can use a direct-response service ad or insert. Warmer areas must focus on direct response air conditioner replacement offers to rid inventory and keep installers busy.

Newsletters: Your new newsletters should be going out now.

Direct mail letters: Make sure your letters to non-closed sales have gone out. Target mail letters for end-of-season air conditioner offers (warmer climates) offering reduced price or "last year's price" to spur installations. Deferred payments work well too.

Postcards: Service postcards for tuneups and preventive maintenance can go out in cooler climates to increase service leads.

Radio: Unless you have a radio contract and/or strong radio presence, you can pull back in this media.

On-hold messages: These should be about service and preventive maintenance now.

Yellow Pages: This is your costliest advertising expense and you deserve to get results. Have an ad designed that pulls leads. Fax your ad to us for a free critique.

Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink ("Creative Marketing that Works"). For other free marketing tips, call 800-489-9099 or visit

Publication date: 08/30/2004