There’s a whiteboard in my office and on the whiteboard is a long list of services that my company doesn’t offer. Every time one of my clients asks, “does your company does this?” I write it on the whiteboard. That whiteboard has made me a lot of money. Here’s how…
Every business has services it offers and services it doesn’t offer. As a contractor, you might offer a specific group of services—for example, fencing, deck-building, new home construction, and home renovation. And, of course, there’s a long list of services you don’t offer, like dentistry or dog walking!
But customers don’t always know what you offer and what you don’t. And they may not always understand the delineation because what you offer and what you don’t. For example, a customer might think that, since you do new home construction and home renovation, that you probably also do locksmithing and gutter repair.
You don’t do them because that’s not contracting work, but the customer doesn’t know that because they just think that it’s a service related to their home and “that’s what contractors do.”
And, when a customer says, “Do you do locksmithing?” (or any other service they’re enquiring about), you might say one of two things:
- A lot of contractors will say, “No. You need to call a locksmith.” And that’s all. The customer thanks them and the contractor goes on his or her way and then the customer gets out the Yellow Pages or goes online to search for a locksmith.
- Some contractors go a step further and say, “No, I don’t offer locksmithing services but I know someone who does. Let me give you their name…” And certainly that’s a good start. It’s better than just saying no. It helps the customer to trust you further by showing that you can help them out.
There’s a third approach, though, that can make you a lot of money—referral agreements.
A referral agreement is where you choose a few professionals in related industries and you work out a deal with them that any referred customers will:
- Receive the highest level of “white glove” service, including (perhaps) special deals, exclusive discounts, faster response times, etc.
- Result in a percentage kickback (a referral incentive) back to your company.
Here’s an example: Let’s say that you work out a 15 percent referral incentive with a locksmith. And one day your customer asks you if you have locksmith services and you say, “Yes, we can help. We’ve arranged a very special offer for our valued customers with an exclusive locksmith in the area. Let me give you their name… and when you call, tell them I sent you because they’ll give you a special deal.” (Or you may even call the locksmith right then and there in front of the customer) The locksmith delivers the services, charges the customer, and then pays you 15 percent of the invoice.
Do you see how different that is from the two more common approaches I listed earlier? This one truly serves the customer at the level they expect (and at a level you want your customer treated) while also paying you some money.
Here’s How To Start
Get a whiteboard, like what I do in my office, and list out the services that your customers have asked you for. Then, as customers ask you for additional services, add those new services or a checkmark beside ones already listed. Every month or two, look at that whiteboard and identify the most-asked-for services, then find a local service provider who serves the same type of customer as you do.
Approach that service provider with a proposal: offer a mutual referral incentive where your customers get exclusively referred to their company for a great deal (and a referral incentive for you) and their customers get exclusively referred to your company for a great deal (and a referral incentive for the other company).
Then get proactive! Don’t just wait for customers to ask about a service that you happen to have a referral agreement with. Instead, train your team members to be on the lookout for opportunities. For example, when they’re at a customer’s house to give a quote on a new deck, and they see that the customer’s gutters are in rough shape, they should mention that they can also make a recommendation for an amazing company that does gutters. The customer wins because they are being served, your referral partner wins because they get business without the marketing effort, and you win because you are serving your customer and making some referral incentive money without spending any extra time, energy, or people to earn that money.
Summary: Be Attentive
Your customers want your service, and they also want other services related to owning a home, but they may not realize that you don’t offer all those services. Pay attention to additional service requests from customers and build strategic relationships with other companies, and everyone will win.