Categorically, your previous clients are your best and most consistent source of potential business. But how best to reach out to them?

Assuming you have past clients you’re willing to get face-to-face with, here’s how to realize their potential as a lead source:

1. Make a list of all of your previous clients, and send them a letter with first-class postage. In no more than 400 words, tell them that you will be contacting them within the next seven business days, and tell them why. Not only will this indicate which clients have moved, but when you do finally contact them, they will realize, yet again, that you follow through on your promises. Only send as many letters as you will have time to properly follow up on.

2. When you follow up, set a mutually convenient time to meet face-to-face. Let the client know that you will be asking for their advice regarding your business.

3. At the meeting, renew your positive relationship. Ask about their world and how they are doing. Ask how the job you did is holding up.

4. Finally, ask for their help in referring people they know who are considering remodeling. Provide a date by which you’ll need help. Thank them for their time. Ask them how you can be of service to them and set a time to get back in touch to see how things are going for both of you.

Continually repeat this process with previous clients, even with friends, subs, vendors, and employees. Remember: Good businesspeople treat everyone they come in contact with as a potential client.

—Les Cunningham is president of Business Networks, a peer-review organization for the remodeling and insurance restoration industries.