The Importance of Knowing your Numbers and Keeping in Touch
by Allan Simmons
Finding new customers and keeping existing ones is the lifeblood of your new business.
To make sure your spending your marketing budget wisely you have to ‘know your numbers’ and ‘keep in touch’ with all your clients if you want them to remember, return and refer you!
Knowing your numbers simply means knowing what you have spent on an advertising campaign and how many quotes and jobs you have done from that campaign.
One of THE most important questions you can ask someone when they call you is, “Can I just ask you where you heard about us please?” Then, the most important part, make sure you record that somehow. That could just be a simple tally chart of all your advertising sources and then collating those on a weekly or monthly basis to see where your work is coming from.
In an ideal world you also then need to see if that enquiry converted into a job and if it does, what was the job value. By tracking these you will be able to say, with confidence, that you know your numbers and that the leaflet drop in your town generated 15 calls which turned into 12 jobs and those jobs were worth £1800 in total. Only then can you decide if the advertising spend was worthwhile.
Rather than using a tally chart another option is to record that on a database system that will then go on and track that enquiry through to completion of the job and provide automatic recording of the value of work too. The database could then provide a simple report on the number of jobs and value from each advertising source.
Something else to consider recording is where previous clients are actually getting your details from THIS TIME they have rung. This is vital as when they call in you still need to know WHERE they found your number to call you again. It’s great to record that as a repeat client, but they will have found your telephone number somewhere and buy asking “Where did you find our number this time Mrs Jones?” means you can track response to your advertising even better. For instance, if you’ve done a mailshot or email to your existing clients you can then monitor the response to that in your reports. If they say they have got your number from a free notepad or pen you left them you know it’s worth giving those away.
Make sure you also ask referred clients where they got your number from too. So when a client calls and you ask where they know about you and they say a friend told them, remember to ask “So where did you get our telephone number from?”. It’s great to know how many referrals you’re getting, but it’s more important to know where they actually found your number. Did they get the number directly off a friend, or did they have to look on Google for your number after a friend had told them about you.
Armed with ‘knowing your numbers’ means you can make INFORMED decisions about what’s working and what’s not, where to stop spending money and where to try and do more of the same. All of this can be tracked manually on paper, or in simple spreadsheets, or on an industry specific database such as www.GetBookedUp.com
So, you’ve got clients calling you and you’re off to a great start. You’re tracking your numbers so you know what’s working and what’s not, what’s next? Well, making sure the client know about all the services you offer, making sure they don’t forget who cleaned for them, and repeat work from the same client.
If you keep you clients on a database you can easily mail clients and track the results, especially if that database is specifically designed for your industry. If you clean carpets for a client and you notice they have a leather suite you can easily record this and send them a letter… “Did you know we also clean leather furniture?” and include general care tips and cleaning advice for their leather. When it is due for cleaning they’re more likely to call you as they now know you do leather cleaning too. Never assume people know everything you do. There are many examples of people calling someone else to clean their leather suite because they thought all you did was clean carpets.
Having clients on a database also means you can more easily send out targeted mailings, for example, if you’ve booked a job thats 50 miles from your base you can easily filter to find all your existing clients in that area and write or email them saying you’re working in the area, would they like anything doing while you’re there? This does two things, reminds the client you are still there, and, if they book something this saves you perhaps having to travel 50 miles for just one job, which saves travel time and fuel costs, so you’re working smarter and making more money. Some database systems will have built in text messaging too, which is another great way to just let clients know you’re in the area. By receiving these emails or text messages clients see that you’re repeatedly in their area, so you must be THE cleaner in the area who everyone uses.
The most important part of having clients on a system is the reminder mailings you can quickly collate to send out. This business is about repeat work, revisiting to do the same job (hopefully more) in 12, 24 or 36 months time. By targeting clients who’s last job was 12 months ago and sending a reminder mailing specifically worded to make it sound ‘normal’ to have the items cleaned again now will result in a much better response and more work. Many clients ‘forget’ how long it is since they had you visit. If you send a reminder that says “Can you believe it, last time we visited was May 2011, almost three years ago! Many of our clients have their furnishings cleaned every two to three years, which is why we’re sending this reminder now.” This subtly says ‘your cleaning is almost overdue’.
The GetBookedUp system has an extra special tool, called the automatic reminder letter. The way that works is when you’ve completed the job ask the client if they’d like you to remind them to have the item cleaned again in 12, 24 or 36 months. It then allows you to enter that into the client record and the system then automatically generates that reminder letter for you. This letter has had responses of 20-40% conversion. Why? Because it’s a specifically worded letter, sent at the very time the client has asked to be reminded, and has a strong call to action to respond. Of course you can set this up manually, without using GetBookedUp, simply by having a diary and writing on the future date who you need to mail the reminder to, or even by creating a separate column on a simple spreadsheet and filtering by that to create a list. Whatever system you use, be it paper, simple spreadsheets or a industry specific database, JUST DO IT!
The final thing to consider about the importance of having a database is your ultimate goal. Whatever the reason you’ve gone into business for yourself you will one day want to be able to sell the business when you want to retire, or if ill health causes you to have to stop cleaning. By having a clean database, which you can demonstrate mailing returns, and even better show how many clients have asked you to remind them and show statistical evidence of the return on those mailings, your business will be worth FAR more than someone with a pile of diaries or some simple spreadsheets. Buyers want to buy the Good Will of the business, and if you can show how systemized the marketing activities and response are then potential buyers can see that all they need to do is continue what you have been doing. Effectively they are buying a ‘turn-key’ operation, not just a pile of equipment.
A good database will help you systemize the business, help automate routine tasks as well as keep a client record. This will give you more free time to do what you want. If you want to grow the business make sure the database you choose will grow with you. There are stories of people using a database only to find that when they need additional tools or functionality it’s just not available and they have had to change systems and all the hassle associated with that. If you choose to grow your business and employ people then those same systems way mean you can be very hands off, as business guru’s would say – “Working ON the business not IN the business”.