GRANITE CITY, IL — What is the main purpose of recycling? Answer: To bring something back for re-use. We recycle cans, glass, plastic, newspaper, metals, etc. Why not add customers to that list?

Mike Becker does.

Becker is the owner of Becker’s Heating & Cooling in this community across the river from St. Louis. He wants to recycle his customers by giving them good service initially and then keeping in touch with them.

Becker sends reminders to his entire list of customers every fall and spring. Most of the time he finds customers take advantage of these offers, especially if they have newer equipment that is still under warranty.

“I include in the customer’s notice a reminder of the warranty requirement for regular service,” he said. “I probably have had a 50% to 60% response rate.”

Loyalty: It works both ways

Becker tries to inspire customer loyalty by standing behind his work. He says his goal is to keep customers happy, which leads to a lot of repeat business.

“When I put in a furnace or new ductwork, down the road the customer will call back, perhaps for a price on adding air conditioning,” he said. “I get a lot of repeat business of that kind, and a lot of word-of-mouth referrals.”

He also depends on direct mail coupons to bring in new clean-and-inspect business. He has been running $5 off coupons and has seen a lot of success.

“I probably mailed out 20,000 to 30,000 pieces [with the coupon] and got 200 to 300 responses,” he said.

Becker, in his sixth year of business, specializes in the residential market. He does most of his own sheet metal work and employs part-time workers to install ductwork and remove old units.

He sells to customers whose homes range in size from 1,000 to 2,000 sq ft.

He supports his customer “recycling” programs by providing warranties and competitive pricing. When he makes a sales presentation, he provides customers with a written proposal and offers financing.

Efficiency education

According to Becker, the key to successful customer retention is to keep people educated and informed, and give them choices. Becker thinks his salesmanship helps customers decide on more efficient furnaces even when many don’t think they can afford upper-end units.

“It’s fairly balanced in the air conditioning side between those who choose the 10-SEER units and those who choose the 12s,” he said.

“Most customers choose the higher SEER a/c units due to the fact that electrical rates are considerably higher than gas rates.”

This, and the fact that Becker is considerably more aggressive when it comes to recycling customers.

Portions of this article were excerpted from “The Dealer Star,” a newsletter for Tempstar dealers.