Word of mouth has been the cornerstone of our business for over 20 years. My father and I have never advertised locally for the company, and until this year, never advertised ever before. (This year I decided to try some economical advertising online) So why have we been able to keep the business alive without any kind of print, radio or TV advertising? It's lost on many businesses these days, but quality of work and caring about ALL your customers is something that goes a long way to keeping people coming back and telling others about your business.
Here are a three tips to keeping customers happy and coming back for more, so they tell their friends and family to use your services.
Under promise, over deliver
Now I'm not saying lie to people to make yourself look good. I'm saying don't short change or put yourself in a position to fail. Make sure you have enough time to finish the job and keep the customer as happy as possible.
In our case, fabricating sheet metal takes time to complete. When an order comes in, I figure a time that it will take for me to finish the fabrication and maybe add some time for complications or delays. Most items are small and easy to finish quickly. However, there are many times when certain fabrication takes a considerable amount of man hours to complete. This is where over estimating can be your best friend.
When I tell a customer the item will be completed in five days and I call them in four, they are thrilled. First off, they have what they needed in plenty of time for installation and they now know I cared enough to make sure they got their order as soon as possible. These are the types of things they tell their friends when they're looking for some custom sheet metal fabrication in the future.
Accommodate when you have the chance
Often times a customer will have trouble getting to our fabrication shop before closing time and they really need the item that they ordered. Granted, they should make the necessary changes if they are having trouble getting to the shop for something they need, but that isn't always doable for many of our clientele.
Just waiting a few extra minutes until they show up or even leaving items outside so they can pick them up at their convenience goes a long way to showing that I care about them and their business. (payment would be taken over the phone or in some cases invoiced).
Many of our customers have stayed for this courtesy alone and know this is something that we can offer them. We do not have the time or resources for delivery, so anything we can do to help them with picking up fabrication is a help to our business and theirs. And, on a job site, they may be that little birdie that whispers in another contractors ear when some custom duct work is needed on another job.
Do a quality job for everybody
No matter how small the customer may be or how much they may not care about quality (believe me they are out there). Always do the best job you can for each and every customer that comes into your shop.
In my line of work that means every plenum, box, or fitting that leaves my shop is done to the best of my ability. Most likely that same section of duct work or custom sheet metal will never be seen by anyone. It will be installed in an attic or basement and forgotten about.
However, I know it's there and for that reason alone I want that fabrication to be perfect and fit like it was meant to be there. Because of my attention to detail, my customer will be happy and in turn, his or her customer is happy. More often than not a word of mouth recommendation will be soon to follow and the process begins again.
Many times we forget that it's the actual customer that keeps our businesses running. We tend to focus on the profit and loss statement and leave the quality of work and customer appreciation behind.
When you take care of your customers and show that you care, they will show you that they care in return. The first dinner party they attend and a conversation about needing some metal work is brought up, our name is soon to follow. Everyone in town that has used our services has told a friend or family member about our work. This is what has kept us alive over the years and there is no reason for that to change in the future.
Word of mouth is the cheapest advertising you will every need and it will keep customers and their families coming back for years and years down the road.