D+AS MAGAZINE

FEATURES — TIPS Sales: Door Business Slowed Down? Try Farming!

© 2008 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Spring 2008
Author: Scott O’Neill
Page 70


TIPS
Sales

Door Business Slowed Down? Try Farming!
How to Build Business by “Farming” Your Existing Client Base
By Scott O’Neill

It’s been said that your best customer is your existing customer. When you sell a door to a new customer, you’ve gained a future service customer. When you’ve serviced a garage door, you’ve gained a potential sale of an old door in need of replacement.

“Farming” your garage door customer base is a great way to survive during times of slow business … like now. Here are few techniques of sales farming:

Farming Techniques

· Do your customer records include contact information such as phone, address, or e-mail? If not, begin to harvest this information for every new customer.
· Create a filing system for customers with doors in poor shape, such as old flip-up doors as here in California, cheap non-insulated steel doors that are damaged, or worn-out wood sectionals.
· Focus on existing larger accounts such as property management companies or homeowners’ associations (HOA).
· Contact new-installation customers and ask if they need service or preventive maintenance.
· Contact service customers and ask if they need a new door.
· Offer compensation or discounts to your customers if they refer a friend to you.

Harvesting HOA Holdouts

Here’s a great example of how farming can yield new fruit for you. Our door company does work for several HOAs. Each homeowner is responsible for his/her own garage door, and they must adhere to the HOA’s rules about the appearance of the doors.

Over the years, we’ve changed out many doors in many associations. But each HOA usually has several “holdouts” who haven’t yet changed their doors.

I just sent letters with offers to those individuals in one local association. Because I was familiar with the overall layout, I knew that the remaining doors had clearance issues. So I sent a letter offering a discount on doors, with an emphasis on doors with limited clearance.

Minutes ago, I got off the phone with someone who had just received the letter. He said he had really wanted a door from us in the past, but the discount on clearance issues spurred him to call. After a little gentle nudging, he acted and ordered!

Cultivating Service Customers

Another example is Stan, a homeowner for whom we’d done service work. The top section of his steel door was cracked, so we had previously installed struts to reinforce it. We pulled his records and sent him a letter during a recent sale, letting him know that he might want to consider a stronger insulated door that was now on sale.

”What great timing this is,” he said when he called. That morning, his door was reversing back open since the section was bowing downward each time he tried to close it. Given his bad experience with this cheap door, he was motivated to replace it with a stronger door.

Late Bloomers

Another area of fertile ground is all those customers who have received quotes from you but have yet to act. Whenever your company has a sale, pull those quotes and call them! Some will jump at the new savings opportunity.

Some of your best leads are existing leads. They’re already on your farm; you don’t need to go searching other fields for them.

Motivate them with direct letters about new discounts, a sales promotion, or coupons. For example, when your opener manufacturer offers rebate coupons, notify all your customers who have old openers.

Target your letters to those who are likely to need a new door, a new opener, or service. Reminder letters about preventive service can generate new service and profitable parts sales.

Just like the farmers who tend to the land, “sales farmers” have daily chores … of gathering helpful information from each new customer. After you’ve developed a rich database, sales farming becomes a strategic process that is easy and cost effective.

Best of all, it can boost your business when you need it most.