When we talk about using previous clients as a source of business for your home inspection company, we are not talking about the old school sending of post cards once a year. Instead, we are talking about a strategic (and ultimately mostly automated) marketing campaign.
To start though, just a word of warning. Marketing to and through previous clients can be a two edged sword. Obviously if you do a great job it isn’t an issue for the most part. But if you remind a client that didn’t like you in the first place that you are still out there, then that can mean trouble. Also, that grumpy client that you inspected for 5 years ago gets an email from you in the same day their heating unit fails they may wonder “why didn’t he magically predict this thing would break 5 years later?” and will either leave you a bad review somewhere, or worse. So be judicious how you use previous clients as a marketing source.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about two ways to market with previous clients: 1 – marketing TO previous clients, and marketing THROUGH previous clients.
Marketing to previous clients. This is pretty straight forward, but it comes down to a matter of keeping good records. The whole thing starts with keeping the name, and contact info from every client you have ever worked with. In this regard, ISN is a great resource. If you don’t use ISN, you can always just keep a word document or excel file (but ISN is way better).
The average person who buys a home nowadays does not stay there as long as people did in the past. In fact, in some areas of the country, people who buy a home are likely to “upgrade” or downsize in the next 5-10 years. So that means a whole new set of inspections for clients that you already know.
A great way to market to previous clients is obviously an email newsletter with maintenance reminders. InterNACHI has a free newsletter that you can enter your client’s info into.
Another resource is a program like Home Binder. If a client uses Home Binder, it brands your company with email reminders for many years to come – and they always remember that you were the one who set it up for them.
A third avenue is through social media. I try to connect with most of my clients on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or whatever they happen to use.. I usually do it right after a home inspection so I am fresh in their minds. To this day, I still have clients ask me home related questions through social media, and then I usually end up inspecting their next home.
Either way, having regular contact with your clients is an important way to market to them. But now let’s talk about the next aspect – Marketing THROUGH your clients.
Marketing through your clients. Your previous clients can become your personal army of advertisers. Use your connections with them to make connections with others – either directly or indirectly.
We had mentioned in a previous paragraph about social media, but we are going to talk about it again. Remember that if you inspect for a 35 year old professional who is buying their first home, that likely he has a circle of friends in the same/similar position in life. So if you take a picture of the outside of the home you inspected for that person, put it on Facebook, tag your client and their agent in it, then all of their friends will see their new home and YOUR company name.
In addition to that, if you choose to run paid ads on forums like Instagram and Facebook, you can now target those ads to appear in front of your client’s friends and family – and that is a powerful tool.
In that same vein, the more you genuinely interact with your clients online, the more they interact with you, and the more others see that online. For instance, someone found an old phone box on the outside of their house. Him and all their friends were trying to figure it out. Then one of my clients (who was in the discussion) tagged me in the discussion and asked if I could chime in – which I did. All of their friends (who were all buying houses or looking) all saw my company name, and asked me questions after I answered what the box was.
That is just one example of taking a few moments to connect with previous clients over social media. When you do, the benefits are not immediate, but instead are long term.
Another way to market through your previous clients is to make sure they leave you reviews. Statistics show time and again that when people choose a professional, they rely heavily on reviews.
They want to see that you have been around, do good work, and that people like you. The major ones to be concerned with (as of the writing of this) are Google Business Reviews, Facebook Reviews, Yelp Reviews, Angie’s List, Zillow, and Home Adviser (if you choose to use them – there are mixed feelings on Home Adviser).
When you have an arsenal of good reviews, it is hard to lose a client to another home inspector. After every home inspection send an email with an easy link for the client to click on and review you.
Make sure it is easy for them to leave a review, or they won’t. Ask a couple of times. Most won’t leave a review, but being persistent is important. Also, right after the home inspection is the best time, because that is when they are the most happy with you.
Whatever way you choose to connect with previous clients, remember that previous clients are an important marketing point. And best of all, it is mostly done free – just with a little effort.
In our next article (and the final one in this series) we will talk about our last marketing point – The Home Inspection Itself.