As I mentioned in my customer service article, repeat customers can payoff big time for a locksmith business . There are multiple philosophies, concepts, strategies, and tools available to locksmiths to assist in customer retention. I’m not going to champion some and poo-poo others; that’s not my purpose. I’m simply going to list some customer retention ideas that others recommended and that I’ve found effective. If you are not already employing some of these philosophies, concepts, strategies, and tools to retain customers, it’s in your best interest to start.
1. Knowledge and expertise.
Most locksmiths are experts, just ask them! But do your customers think that? It’s a two-way street. Having pride in your “expertise” is fine but is it translating to the people paying your bills? The traits of an expert include, but are not limited to: knowledge, experience, communication, judgement, and wisdom. Does that describe you? Selling a product or solution isn’t solely telling the customer what you’re doing. It’s telling them their options, the pros and cons of each, and why you’re recommending what you’re recommending. It’s giving them multiple pricing options in some situations. Customers appreciate honesty and the opinion of an expert.
I once had an issue in my basement with flooding. I called 3 contractors. The first 2 tried to sell me a sump-pump system that would cost me thousands. The 3rd contractor told me he’d do the same, but he also told me my problem could be fixed for less than $100. The true problem was something the others didn’t bother to check but what he immediately looked for. Who do you think I considered the expert? It was the guy willing to identify and fix the problem and not just the symptom; the guy willing to offer the right thing even if it wasn’t the most profitable thing. Be that 3rd contractor to your customers.
2. Stay in contact.
Let’s say you sell a large job to a new customer. You go out, install, test everything, and leave with the customer happy. Don’t become spoiled or complacent and forget about them while you chase the next sale. Send them a thank you card, reach out to them throughout the year and see how your product(s) and/or work is doing, ask if there’s anything else you can quote or if there are any current or future projects they may need assistance with. It’s not overbearing to make sure that your customers are doing alright and that their needs are being served. You want to stay in their mind and show them that not only do you value their business and their satisfaction, you’re ready for your next assignment.
4. Go that extra mile and where others won’t.
Let’s say that one of your customers has a policy that requires 3 bids for any project over a certain dollar amount. This is common with institutions. I was an institutional locksmith for many years and one of my duties included coordinating and evaluating quotes for large, capital projects. Do you know how many jobs I saw other locksmiths purposefully overbid so they didn’t get the work? A lot.
I was told multiple times that a repair or install wasn’t possible and we would need to replace an entire door, frame, or similar item and start from scratch. I knew that obviously wasn’t the case. It’s not that they didn’t want work, they just didn’t want THAT work. THAT work would be a big pain in the butt. It may have even been that they weren’t confident that they were even capable of it. Whatever the case was or may be, you need to be ready to go that extra mile and go where others won’t. It really may be a big a pain in the butt and a miserable job, but that’s your inroad, that’s your open door. I didn’t do business with the companies that tried to sell me something that we truly didn’t need, all under the fallacy of “it’s the only way it can be done”. But the company that did? They became a preferred vendor and they got the jobs that didn’t require bids.
Show to the customer that you’re willing to do what the other companies wouldn’t. Use that opportunity to demonstrate your value to the customer.
5. Excellent customer service.
If you read the first article this should be a no-brainer but it bears repeating.
6. Embrace and resolve complaints.
In the customer service article I also mentioned that businesses typically only hear from 4% of dissatisfied customers. If it happens to you, feel fortunate you got to hear about it. Embrace that you have a complaint AND an opportunity to resolve it. First, you get a chance to resolve it with your customer and, hopefully, retain their business. Second, it can be an excellent learning tool. If an error goes unchecked and repeats, you’re more than likely not going to hear about it. Use the opportunity of a complaint to learn and grow so that it might not cost you any additional customers.
Reflect on the times you did business with other service providers. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What impression did they give you? How did they do it? Your business should be a reflection of the principles that you valued enough to become a repeat customer of X or Y company. Me personally? I value companies that honor their appointments, show up on time, communicate effectively, adhere to quotes, conduct themselves professionally, etc. That’s what gets my loyalty and repeat business. That’s what gets a lot of people’s loyalty and repeat business. We are, after all, consumers at the end of the day. We have a good beat on these things. Use that to your advantage with your own customers.