You may think marketing is getting the service call, but that’s only part of it — each service call can be used to differentiate and gain upselling advantages. All you need are the right tools:

1. The Green Sheet.

Technicians have a lot to do at a customer’s home and are compelled to get “right to the job.” However, the customer needs to gain a comfort level with the tech, the company and the procedure. For that reason, we recommend the Green Sheet.

First, there is no magic reason why it’s green; it just stands out and is memorable, both in name and color. The Green Sheet is a summary of what the tech is there to do on the call.

Your tech simply hands this to the customer upon arrival or after a little introduction saying, “This is a little summary about how our company is different from other plumbing contractors, plus answers to some frequently asked questions. But if you have any questions about my work today, I’ll be happy to answer them when I’m done.” Include testimonials from satisfied customers on the back and you’re raising credibility, trust, professionalism and image, all in about 90 seconds for four cents. Not bad.


2. Yard signs, safety cones, truck signage and uniforms.

Each of these shout a professional image but can be amazingly inexpensive. Once you’ve got them, the “per impression” costs go down every time they are used and make a huge visual impact for passers-by. The more impressions, the greater the company notoriety and credibility.

Plus, when all are visually similar and working together, they raise your brand image. The higher your image, the more customers are willing to pay for your services, as long as you can back up that image with great service.


3. Newsletters as gifts.

Newsletters are great to send to your current customers. They are a valuable retention tool and great leave-behinds for new customers. Get extra newsletters printed and let your techs hand them to new customers on each service call. They cost pennies to hand out for zero postage. They make a great first impression and substantially raise your company’s image in your customer’s minds.

Plus, your customers are going to love the home-care tips featured in the newsletter. The coupons inside are a great way to promote the additional services your company offers.


4. Referrals.

By far, your best marketing opportunity on a service call is to generate referrals, by which satisfied customers do your marketing for you. After a visit, the customer should receive a series of letters, each designed to keep them tied to you:

Handwritten thank-you notes. This step begins the referral process with a huge impact. Every tech should always have a stock of thank-you cards and pre-stamped (not metered) envelopes either in the truck or available at the office for him to fill out with a brief, personal note of thanks he can drop in the mail that day.

You couldn’t afford to buy the goodwill this simple act will produce. It is even more impressive when coupled with …

The thank-you postcard. This is a simple note from the owner or service manager that goes out the day of the service. Like the thank-you card from the technician, this is so unusual that it’ll knock your customers off their feet. You thank them for the business and tell them how valuable they are to you and your business. It warms the relationship even further.

The referral request letter. This will go out seven to 10 days later. This letter — in a now kiddingly warm fashion — still thanks them for their business, yet lets them in on a secret. It reveals that advertising costs the business owner and the customer. Customers have never been so openly spoken to by a contractor, one who would make this “admission” for all to see. Thus, the sheer honesty is striking.

It also allows for your referral request to hit home. This letter gets read. The next time someone talks to your customer about the services you provide, you can be sure they are going to mention you.

Follow-up email. Check in and make sure everything was taken care of correctly on the call. This is a great way for the customer to bring up any issues he had or leave you a testimonial. Emails are fast, free and let your customers know you’re thinking about them. There is no reason not to send a follow-up email.

All these follow-ups are working together to create a relationship with your customers. When customers see you making an attempt to create relationships, it builds loyalty. Loyal customers not only spend 30% more than nonloyal customers, they also send 107% more referrals than nonloyal customers.

It’s important you don’t stop nurturing the new relationship with your customers after the follow-up notes, letters and emails. These new customers will only remain your customers year after year if you have a strong customer retention program in place in which you contact your customers on a regular basis all year long. Most contractors don’t do this, so it’s just one more way you can differentiate your company from the competition.

Marketing is all about differentiation, so make yourself unique and memorable — help customers separate you from everyone else who just blend in. When you put these tools in place, customer acceptance and appreciation will seem very obvious, and soon enough, you’ll be looking back and saying, “No wonder that worked. It was a great idea.”