If you can learn about what is happening in your past customers' lives — their “lifestyle changes” — you can anticipate what services they will need from you in the future. Lifestyle changes are all the occurrences that mark shifts in life, such as getting married, buying or selling a house, getting a new job or a major promotion, or any circumstances that make the household larger or smaller. These lifestyle changes affect what homeowners purchase. Learning about lifestyle changes requires you to stop thinking of your customer relationships as episodic and begin thinking of them as long term.
You can easily generate messages about your company to reach clients. What is more difficult is to get them to talk back to you. You must be creative in figuring out how to do something for your customers that keeps you in touch. Preferably, make it a service that will generate revenue in the process of increasing contact points.
One option is to use your one-year warranty to open the door for you to visit past clients for a walk-through eight or nine months after the project has been completed. If the warranty period has expired, consider offering —for a designated fee plus cost of materials — an annual “maintenance check” to review electrical, plumbing, painting, and woodwork. Be sure to ask the clients questions about their lives. If you have built a relationship on trust, they will welcome the conversation. If you listen carefully, you will learn something about their future remodeling needs.
Change is inevitable. The key to increasing your business is to build a long-term relationship with your customers so you can both benefit from riding the waves of change.
Martha Rogers, Ph.D., is a founding partner of the Peppers and Rogers Group, a management consulting firm based in Norwalk, Conn.