A true customer for life: With knowledge comes the power to retain your customers
It recently dawned on me that I was missing the mark in an area of my business practices. I always thought I knew who my client was, and my goal was to keep that client for life. But whose lives are we talking about; mine or hers?
In past columns I’ve written about how my Customers for Life system will lock a client into your company and brand. It is a system that works and has been an extremely valuable asset for my business and for yours, if you apply it. But there is a problem I didn’t see until recently. Of course, with the problem exposed, the Doctor has come up with a solution. The Doctor always knows best.
Any good health care provider will always suggest a prescription for the symptom. A cure for the ailment is necessary so the patient can continue on their way with the best shot at comfort and longevity.
At a recent meeting with other entrepreneurs and business leaders, our topic turned to healthcare. But we weren’t talking about Obamacare or even about ailments of the human body and subsequent remedies. We were talking about ailments of the home.
One of the participants in the discussion is an executive in the insurance industry. He described with great clarity how expensive it is for the insurance companies to settle claims caused by water, particularly failed water heaters. Of course, I was all ears and paid very close attention being the only plumber in the room.
The consensus was that the biggest threat to the home is water. Flooding and property damage is a real problem, not from Mother Nature and without, but from within the structure itself.
My mind began to race with possible solutions to the problem.
It has been said the average home needs plumbing services once every two years. We know the plumbing system is prone to wear and failure. Water is corrosive. The Colorado River has carved out the Grand Canyon. Giant sinkholes have swallowed up cars and houses because of subterranean water flow.
Water running through a pressurized piping system will cause system failure. Waste water being carried away will seek out any little crack or hole in order to escape. Add to the mix water heating devices fueled by fire and subject to extreme temperatures, or hundreds of volts of electricity inserted directly into the water through a metal probe in order to agitate the water particles to near boiling and you quickly understand why a plumbing system is so fragile.
The solution I’m talking about here is an HMO for the home. A Health Maintenance Organization for the home, similar to the way today’s healthcare providers care for you.
Today’s healthcare providers know everything about you. They have systemized and digitized you. You have become a digital picture and database. I can go online and see my latest lab results, what my blood pressure was at last check, what prescriptions have been ordered, when my next checkup is scheduled and an overall picture of my condition. I can access my profile with a command or two on my computer, phone, tablet or other portable electronic device. I can see what condition my condition is in. Of course, the doctor who has been trusted with my healthcare has all of this important data immediately available with the execution of a few keystrokes; complete with any X-rays, Ultrasound images, EKG readings or CT scans. Because of available technology, I have become a living database.
At my company, Plumbing Doctor, we collect data from the home. I want the make, model and serial number of the water heater and garbage disposal. I want to know the make of the toilets and their age. I want to know what kind of supply tubes and angle stops are in the home. I want to know if they have a water treatment device or system, I want to know everything. I want to turn the house into a database. I want to have a history of the property complete with pictures. I want to know if the water service pipe is copper, PVC, galvanized or what? Same with the sewer pipe — is it ABS, vitrified clay, Orangeburg or what?
Many reasons exist why it is smart to do this. One example is if I knew when my client’s water heater was about fail, I could send them a notice and even offer a coupon for a discount if they change it out now, before failure, instead of waiting for a possibly much costlier emergency situation to develop. This practice could even mitigate possible property damage and keep them from having to call their insurance company. And that is just one reason. The healthcare industry does this. At a certain age it is recommended that women get a mammogram and screening for breast cancer. At age 50 it is recommended that you have a colonoscopy. The idea is prevention not rehabilitation and recovery.
I want to close by telling you about Mrs. McX. For years she was the best client you could hope for: never a complaint, never an objection, prompt with payment and she owned several properties including apartments. The relationship was so solid she had my son’s mobile number and always preferred him as her technician. One day she called and asked if he would come over to fix her screen door. She was money in the bank. A true Customer for Life until she died.
Over the many years I have been in business, I have lost many clients due to death. It is an objection I have not figured out how to overcome, until now.
Here’s the solution: The true client is not the person who is calling you to their property; the true client is their property.
In the case of good old Mrs. McX, we’ve never been in those properties since she died. The real client I realized was not good old Mrs. McX; the real client was her properties. Had I built a database of her properties, knew everything about them and properly branded them I would have been able to present a huge value add proposition to the new owners. Why would they ever consider calling anyone else?