Many of our customers have done business with us for years and we appreciate every order they place here at the shop. Part of the reason they come back, besides stellar work, is the fact that I do my best to learn the tendencies and little idiosyncrasies of each. This does not mean I am at everybody's beck and call 24/7, but I do make an effort to give each and every customer the best service possible.
Everyone is different, so doing the little things is a big part of why we keep clients coming back year after year. Obviously, it's difficult to learn the tendencies of newer customers, so I would have to say this is more of a retaining tactic than anything.
Here are a few things I do to learn the tendencies of my customers.
Learning Their Ordering Style
All of our customers have learned the fabrication trade in all kinds of places, from all kinds of people. Some have been unionized, others have taught themselves and many have learned from installers on the job. This means we all posses a varied language when it comes to ordering custom sheet metal fittings. Naturally, I do my best to get them on my page, but with change comes complication, so keeping with their dialect can make things go a bit easier.
Learning different styles of how people see things in their mind has helped me become a better fabricator in the end, along with keeping a good diary of notes for each customer with specific needs. All of these things help to make sure orders are correct because mistakes slow up the job and ultimately lose the shop money.
When They Like to Pick Up Finished Orders
We don't deliver here at the shop so our customers are forced to pick their orders up and all of them work their day differently. Some like to grab things early in the morning, some late in the day. In order to keep up good relations I will leave an order outside the door for someone who may arrive before I get in for the day or after I have left. This keeps from forcing people to live on my schedule, especially the clients we have good standing accounts with. Leaving an order out would not be something I'd do for a newer customer unless they paid me first.
My father and I have done this for years and it has been helpful to many of our clients over that time. We do a lot of work for HVAC service techs whose schedule is all over the place so providing this service can help to bring future good will and business.
Specific Customization to Customer Orders
We aren't a custom sheet metal shop for nothing. The main goal of our shop is to give each customer the quality, custom work they need to get the job done right. However, there are many small things needed for each and every customer who comes through the door. Some may like a 1/2" flange on their plenums and others may not. Different kinds of connections for different kinds of trunk duct and fittings is something we try to provide for everyone. We aren't a standardized fabrication shop so making sure you know what the customer wants is key to making sure they come back in the future.
Learning the different tendencies of each customer may seem daunting at first but will payoff in the end. You want to give everyone the best experience possible whether your running a fancy boutique or a sheet metal fabrication shop like us.
Your product should speak for itself, but it doesn't hurt to make sure the person buying that product feels special as well.