With the warmer weather come more sales, right? Of course. There are so many customers during this time of year that you don’t need to worry about customer retention, right? Of course not! This is the busiest time of year, which means you should be concentrating on keeping your customers.

Too many contractors serve customers once and think they’re customers. A good customer retention program is the best way to keep your name in the mind of your customers. Think about it. If you lose a customer, you not only lose the future money they might have spent on your services, but you also lose their referrals — and you’ll never even know this happened.

A simple and cost-effective way of keeping the name of your business in the minds of all those potential customers is sending seasonal postcards. (What, did you think they were going to remember your name from a year ago? Please.) These are great because they are quick, to the point, and serve as an inexpensive way of attracting the fence-sitters and deferring people from seeking your competition.

Some great postcard tips:

  • Use a summertime themed headline. The name of your company is not a headline. Sorry. Try contrasting the heat of the summer with the idea of staying cool inside.
  • Chose an attractive graphic. I know there are some people who might think your company truck is a great graphic, but can it compare with a cute little kid playing in a sprinkler?
  • Stand out from the junk mail. People receive so much clutter in the mail nowadays that it’s difficult to keep your well-crafted marketing message from going straight to the trash. By spending a little extra money, you can get a larger-than-usual postcard which will attract more attention than the standard size.
  • Don’t make any outright sales attempts. The point of this is to reinforce a relationship in order to make a sale, not to print a pitch on a postcard. Instead of promoting a special, gently remind customers that you can fix the problems that come with hot weather.
  • Make yourself available to the customer. Remind them that you would love to hear from them and their family and friends anytime, and your customer service representatives are standing by to take their calls.
  • Turn the postcard into a coupon for $10 (or however much) off an air conditioning system check-up, or make it for a free home energy survey. This promotes good will toward your company, and even if the person who gets your card doesn’t want to use it, they might give it to a friend or neighbor who will.

These are just some of the great ways to keep your name in customers’ top of mind awareness (TOMA). Take control. Don’t expect the weather to bring you customers, and don’t just hope they can remember your name from last season. Put your name in their mind and narrow the chances that they will seek the Yellow Pages — where all your competitors are. Speaking of competitors, do you think they’ll be sending postcards? Probably not.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson Ink, a contractor marketing firm. He’ll be conducting a marketing seminar a Comfortech 2007 on September 26-29 in St. Louis. His company offers turn-key marketing solutions for contractors for lead generation, image, branding, publishes newsletters and offers Monthly Marketing Coaching. Call 800/489-9099, or fax to 334/262-1115, or visit www.hudsonink.com. For a free marketing newsletter, contractors can fax their letterhead with the request or e-mail freestuff@hudsonink.com.