Plumbing customer retention is an essential element of financial stability. You can increase revenue when satisfied customers return to your plumbing business more than once.
Here’s how to improve customer retention rates, including increasing your positive online reviews. You’ll learn how positive reviews fit in the cycle of repeat customers and why successful plumbing companies prioritize them.
The Importance of Customer Retention in Your Plumbing Company
Customer retention means keeping customers for repeat business. Many companies don’t give plumbing customer retention enough focus. What rate of customer retention does your plumbing business have?
Overall, having a service business has the benefit of higher customer retention than many other industries. It falls between 67% and 84%, depending on the specialty. On the flip side, that leaves plenty of room for improvement.
Why is customer retention so necessary? Let’s explore a few reasons.
1. The low-hanging fruit philosophy
Low-hanging fruit in an orchard are the apples or oranges that are the easiest to pick. You don’t need to spend money on fancy equipment. You can simply reach up and pluck them.
Low-hanging fruit in business means the customers that are easiest to get. And it’s always easier (and cheaper!) to get return customers than to find new ones. That’s a law of business.
Customer acquisition costs money in advertising and marketing. Why spend that acquiring new customers when wooing your current ones is more efficient?
2. The ripple effect of customer retention
Customer retention also helps grow your bottom line. Increasing customer retention by a small percentage has a ripple effect. Why is that?
Once customers are familiar with your services, they call on you more often and for bigger jobs. For instance, a plumbing client may initially contact you for a broken toilet flush valve. But once they see what a good job you do, they will call you for more extensive work that boosts your sales numbers, like:
- Repairing a water heater or boiler
- Replacing plumbing fixtures
- Adding a garbage disposal
- Upgrading a tub or shower
- Remodeling a kitchen or bath
3. Customer lifetime value
A loyal customer will call your plumbing company whenever they have a plumbing-related concern. That puts money in your bank account.
Some plumbing opportunities come up regularly. You might winterize a client’s vacation home every year. Or you might work with a construction company that calls you every time a new house needs plumbing installed.
The impact of this on your income is called customer lifetime value. You can calculate this by multiplying the cost of a typical service call by the number of years a customer uses your business.
4. Marketing potential
When you have repeat customers like this, you can use them in your marketing. “The so-and-so family has been coming to us for solutions for over 20 years!” You can’t pay for this kind of great advertising.
It’s no surprise that returning customers tend to be the biggest fans of any business. They’ll often refer you to friends, family, and coworkers. If you do great work for those folks, they will, in turn, become repeat clients and do the same to keep growing your business.
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How to Boost Customer Retention in Your Plumbing Business
So, why do customers choose to give some companies their business over and over?
Think about a service you’ve used recently and were very happy with. What did you like about it? Was the service provided by a business you’ve used many times?
The things you found most positive about the experience were probably the same things others value in a plumbing business. Here are some common reasons a customer returns to the same company:
- The service provided met or exceeded the customer’s overall expectations.
- The customer felt their service was personalized.
- They got a reasonable price for the service provided.
- The technician was considered reliable and punctual.
- They felt the service provider was knowledgeable and trustworthy.
- The provider solved a problem for the customer.
- The provider was resourceful in getting the parts or equipment they needed.
- The technician helped the customer connect with other professionals in related industries to complete a job.
Plumbers are like doctors for your house. You want trust and predictability from both. You want someone who keeps appointments on time and helps with any problem.
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How Important Are Online Reviews for the Success of a Plumbing Business?
These days, few people consult the phone book to find a plumber. It’s too risky. How do they know if the plumber listed is any good?
Instead, potential customers go online to look at reviews. These reviews are left by customers just like them. Most people find them a more reliable source of recommendation when looking for home service providers.
The positive review-customer retention cycle
Positive online reviews and customer retention go hand in hand. Here’s the typical cycle:
- A potential customer reads an online review of your plumbing business. In the review, a regular customer mentions you fixed their leaky shower valve.
- The customer seeking a plumber also has a leaky shower valve. So, they’re looking specifically for plumbers with a good track record solving this problem.
- The customer hires you to fix their shower. They’re pleased with the results.
- The new customer leaves a glowing review online. They may also schedule you to install a new dishwasher next month based on their customer satisfaction.
- Now, you have another good online review. You’ve also established a repeat customer.
- A third customer sees the new customer’s review. They hire you to fix their under-sink trap and the cycle starts again.
You can definitely do things to increase your positive online reviews. But before learning about those, let’s go over the three basic types of customer reviewers.
First, you have positive reviewers. These are people who are happy with your services.
They are likely repeat customers who have been calling your plumbing business for years. They are happy to recommend you to others.
Next, you have people who don’t care one way or another. You’ve probably seen their reviews for your plumbing business or a competitor’s.
“They were fine. They fixed my blocked toilet.” They’re not saying anything bad about your company, but they’re not raving about it either.
Finally, you have the negative reviewers. These people are typically not happy with the service they have received.
Maybe the repair didn’t last. Perhaps they feel the service call was too expensive. Or the technician arrived late. They might be fans of a rival plumber who couldn’t serve them.
Your job with reviewers
As the owner of a plumbing business, you have several jobs when it comes to online reviewers:
- Remind customers who are happy with your work to leave positive reviews.
- Thank positive reviewers for leaving good remarks.
- Respond to indifferent reviewers to turn them into positive reviewers. “Thank you for your review! Please let us know how to turn your four-star review into a five-star review next time.”
- Talk to negative reviewers and offer to fix the situation. It might cost you some money. But a bad review can cost even more.
How to get more positive online reviews
The keys to increasing positive reviews for your plumbing business lie in the list above. To start, you have to ask your customers to leave reviews in the first place. You’ll have more success if you do this multiple times.
Begin by asking the customer at the end of the call if they would leave an online review for your plumbing business. Tell them exactly where you want them to leave it, such as Google, Yelp, or a community Facebook page.
Be sure to get the customer’s phone number and/or email address. That way, you can send a reminder the next day. Include a link to where you would like to see the review.
You want your service to feel personalized and memorable for all the right reasons. But plumbing isn’t as fun or exciting as selling someone a sports car or entertainment system.
Therefore, you have to make the customer remember the service call for other reasons:
- It solved their problem.
- The technician was punctual, polite, and tidy.
- The cost of the service was reasonable.
- Arranging the call was simple.
It helps to follow up with an email or phone call after providing service to ensure the customer is satisfied. This is especially true of new customers.
You’re not just bugging them for a good review. You’re being responsive and asking if there’s anything else they need.
You can plant the seed for a positive review during this interaction. “Did we solve your plumbing problem for you? Would you recommend us to someone else looking for a plumber?”
It’s not ethical to bribe customers to leave positive reviews. But you can improve overall satisfaction by:
- Inviting customers to join a membership group
- Offering discount coupons for future services
- Checking on the status of your work a few months after completion
- Fixing errors at no additional charge
- Leaving small thank-you gifts after service calls
This helps establish rapport with the customer. Customers are more likely to give repeat business to service providers they have a relationship with.
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5 Customer Retention Strategies to Keep Your Customers Coming Back
You can start today increasing plumbing customer retention for future sales. Follow these strategies for more returning customers:
Track your customer retention statistics.
You can’t calculate improvement without knowing what you’re measuring. What is your customer turnover or churn rate? How many customers call you again after a first appointment?
Provide the quality of service that customers expect.
Would you call a home service provider again if they weren’t on time, trustworthy, and knowledgeable? Use field service automation to improve efficiency. Keep employees up to date on new tools, like imaging, and trends, like touchless faucets and wall-mounted toilets.
FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: 4 Ways Automation Can Improve Your Business
Offer emergency services.
Unlike with many other home service industries, plumbing calls are often urgent. Sometimes, being available late at night or on weekends wins customers. They’ll remember you were the ones who helped them when no one else would.
Provide value without charging for it.
This can be through newsletters, informative blog posts, or video DIY tips.
Consider specializing in one area of plumbing.
Make your business known as the authority on kitchen remodels or luxury baths. There’s always a need for plumbers that specialize in drains and sewage or water filtration systems. Become the authority in your niche, and customers will flock to you again and again.