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Grow with Existing Customers

Originally published: 01.01.19 by Tim Ross

It’s no secret that competition in the HVACR service industry has grown fiercer in recent years. As you know, you are not only battling a growing number of independents for business, but big box retailers and giants like American Residential Service as well.

Last month, home warranty business Service America — one of the largest service providers for HVACR systems and other major appliances in Florida — fell victim to the crowded marketplace and announced it was closing after 43 years in business.

Service America’s story proves that even very well estblished businesses often struggle to keep pace with larger players. In such a competitive market, the path to success may lie in growing business from your existing customers rather than focusing solely on finding new ones — especially when your competitors can spend more to attract new prospects.

Research shows that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one. Customer retention isn’t just cost effective; it’s also key for obtaining referrals and maintaining credibility.

So, if you want to get a leg up on the competition, dedicate more of your time to building solid relationships with your current customers. Here are some strategies to help you ensure you stay top of mind:

Start Marketing

If you consider your website your main form of marketing, you’re greatly limiting your ability to connect with existing customers. Since they’re already familiar with your services, existing customers are less likely to visit your site. Instead, you need to be conducting proactive outreach.

A mix of both modern and traditional marketing efforts works best for customer retention. On the traditional side of the equation, direct mail is a great tool, allowing you to tailor offers to your customers’ maintenance needs.

For example, you can help drive traffic among your existing database by sending a mailing to customers who are overdue for service or simply haven’t been in touch for a year or more. You could also design a specific offer to reward customers who have been loyal and are in need of new equipment.

While it’s true that you could send out these same offers via email, we’ve found that since consumers are inundated with email ads, you won’t get the same response rate.

Even tech-savvy Millennials enjoy getting mail and are more likely to pay more attention to something that arrives in their physical rather than virtual mailbox.

Another advantage of direct mail is how trackable it is. Most direct mail companies will include call-tracking numbers in your campaign, so you can easily determine how many calls your mailers generated.

You should also set up specific landing pages for your direct mail campaigns to track website visits driven by your postcards. That data can then be matched up with sales numbers to provide a better picture of the campaign’s success.

A good way to supplement your direct mail efforts is to utilize mobile advertising. One potential option is to geofence the group you mailed to so that anytime they enter the geographic area you define (likely your service area) the apps they use will feature ads supporting your direct mail campaign.

This approach reinforces your message and can help compel customers to take action. To distinguish metrics from your direct mail campaign, you can have the ads send customers directly to your scheduling page or call center.

Marketing 101 suggests that it takes multiple contacts on multiple platforms to make a sale. Combining conventional and digital strategies can help you cover all your bases.

Make it Easy

There are a wide range of marketing tools you can employ in your customer retention efforts. But if those programs are too complicated, you may avoid using them.

Whatever option you choose should be easy to understand, implement and measure. You’ll also want the flexibility to integrate your tools with your POS system to more effectively gauge metrics. You’ll also need to ensure that your approach is user-friendly for customers.

When they click on an ad or pull up your website from a mailer, the page they see should be easy to navigate and contain all the information they might need. Likewise, if they call, your sales staff should be well trained on addressing questions and concerns and converting leads.

Say Thank You

Your customers don’t want to feel like another number. Taking the time to thank them for their business sends the message that you value them and appreciate the fact that they chose your company to serve their needs. You can say thanks through email, by sending a handwritten note, a personal call or even providing gift cards for service/purchases over a certain amount.

While it’s easy to get caught up courting new prospects, engaging your current customers consistently may help you compete more effectively and grow your business.


About Tim Ross

Tim Ross

Tim is a marketing veteran and president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail services. Over the last eight years, Tim has built Mudlick into a $40 million operation that has helped thousands of businesses develop sustainable sales growth. For additional information, visit

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