Client Acquisition and Retention

client acquisition

In our cleaning and restoration business landscape, where competition is often strong and the need for customer loyalty is constantly growing, the saying “the customer is always right” has never been more applicable. This is especially true in the service sector, where keeping clients can determine whether a company flourishes or fails.

The ability to retain customers can make or break a company’s success. With that in mind, let’s explore critical strategies to ensure your business keeps its customers and builds a devoted customer base.

1 | Answer the phones

In today’s fast-paced world, customers anticipate immediate responses. Unfortunately, many business owners have all calls go to their cellphone. Employing a dedicated receptionist to manage calls and arrange appointments greatly boosts client satisfaction. Quick replies not only display professionalism but also show dedication to promptly fulfilling client needs.

Our receptionist offers additional services to book more work and earns a small commission when accepted. We normally have two receptionists. If the work is a little slow, one of them works on other projects. Weekly, people comment, “Thank you for answering the phone! Every time I call a contractor, they never answer their phone!”

2 | Quick response time

Clients can get frustrated waiting to receive an answer to a question or a reply to a voicemail message. Time is of the essence in customer service, and responding swiftly to voicemails, emails, or texts can set your business apart.

Establishing procedures for timely communication enhances the image of dependability and attentiveness. In our business, we will return calls for overnight messages at 9 a.m. the following day. We also try to respond to email quote requests from our website and text messages within an hour. Fast service contributes to client satisfaction.

3 | Motivate with incentives

Incentivizing your receptionist and/or other employees to acquire new clients and schedule appointments boosts morale and fosters a proactive approach to customer engagement. Regular performance evaluations and goal-setting sessions will motivate them to deliver exceptional service.

To keep our receptionists more interested, we give commissions on converting new clients, booking jobs, and selling fabric protector. They also like to run the numbers and see how they are doing compared to last year. These incentives keep them engaged.

4 | Listen

Customers need to feel they’re being listened to; they want to be heard and valued. They don’t want to feel like they are being “handled.”

Practicing active listening, which involves fully understanding customers’ concerns and responding thoughtfully, builds rapport and trust. Avoiding interruptions and demonstrating genuine interest in customers’ needs fosters positive interactions.

Even though we may be able to answer their question or address their situation quickly, we must still listen to what they say. We don’t like it when someone cuts us off mid-sentence, so we must avoid the temptation to cut the client off and finish their sentence.

5 | Ongoing training

Investing in regular training for receptionists and employees ensures they stay attuned to evolving customer expectations and industry norms. Evaluating and refining communication skills can enhance customer experience and mitigate complacency.

When you’ve been in business for a while, you tend to become complacent and take incoming calls for granted. Make sure you take the time to listen to how your receptionist talks with clients on the phone and make any needed changes.

6 | Transparent pricing

None of us like surprises, especially if they cost us money. Hidden fees and unexpected charges can sour the customer experience. Adding a line item such as a fuel surcharge, credit card fee, or dirty water disposal fee can irritate the client. We want the entire experience with our client to be outstanding.

Being transparent about pricing, including any additional fees, fosters trust and transparency. Clearly outlining pricing beforehand helps set realistic expectations and minimizes misunderstandings.

7 | Consistent quality service

Consistency is key to customer satisfaction. By investing in technician training and certification, businesses can ensure a regular elevated level of service. Soliciting feedback and incentivizing excellence reinforces a culture of continuous improvement.

For better consistency, our technicians are IICRC certified; however, we also do extensive training in-house to ensure a consistently high level of service. We have comment cards that clients will return by prepaid mail, and we will post them on our company WhatsApp group. This positive reinforcement helps our technicians deliver a predictably outstanding level of service. And a Starbucks gift card here or there when we get a five-star review helps, too.

8 | Underpromise and overdeliver

The common idiom to “underpromise and overdeliver” is true. Setting realistic expectations and surpassing them instills confidence and satisfaction in customers. Thorough pre-inspections and clear communication about service capabilities help manage customer expectations and avoid disappointments.

Training and detailed initial inspections are key. We must pre-qualify certain situations, such as severe pet issues in the carpet. Are we saying, “All the spots will come out.” Or “We can make your floor look brand new” when it is scratched or gouged? Good client communication is paramount. It may be better to show the client what we’ve done so far and perhaps discuss using another product to get the area as clean as possible. This way, they will feel valued and that you are honest and did try to do your best.

9 | Professionalism in service

Attention to detail, such as wearing company uniforms and using protective gear, raises the professionalism of service delivery. Treating every customer interaction with the same level of care and respect as one would for a family member cultivates trust and loyalty.

Company uniforms lend to professionalism. Good habits for your employees include removing shoes or wearing shoe covers, using corner guards and drop cloths, and asking for permission to open the closets to clean inside them. This helps give the illusion of control.

Training is important. Instruct your technicians to treat the client as if she were their grandmother or another cherished family member. IICRC certification and other credentials will help the tech feel more professional. Ongoing training also helps techs act more professionally.

10 | Encourage feedback and follow up

Actively soliciting feedback through various means, follow-up calls, and messaging platforms allow businesses to address any concerns promptly. Committing to resolving issues and exceeding customer expectations can turn dissatisfied customers into loyal advocates.

The fact that a client may not call to complain doesn’t mean they are completely satisfied. They may be afraid to call to re-clean because they don’t want to be a bother, but how likely are they to refer us to their connections if we weren’t outstanding? Additionally, they may not complain but never call us again. We’ve probably all felt the same after buying a service or product. Comment cards, follow-up phone calls, and messaging services will encourage the client to let us know how they feel, and we can rectify the situation and produce a cheerleader client as a result!

“Customer retention” is an enduring focus of sustainability rather than a fad. In fact, by deploying a full suite of subtle strategies, businesses can claim to secure not just the loyalty of their clientele but, more so, to nurture a community of cheerleaders.

The key to this approach is the recognizing that customer retention is not a passive activity but an active chase—a proactive engagement with each patron’s needs, preferences, and experiences. From personalized interactions to anticipating the service, each touchpoint will be an opportunity to deepen the bond between the customer and the brand.

In the marketplace, which is often brutally competitive, exemplary customer service emerges as the only guiding beacon to steer the business through the choppy waters of consumer preference.

And the returns from investing in customer retention go far beyond immediate financial gains. Prioritizing customer retention is more than just a business strategy; it is committing to excellence, integrity, and long-standing relationships.

Kevin Kluth

Kevin Kluth is president of Pinnacle Eco Clean Inc., which has provided high-quality cleaning services in the Rochester, NY area for over 40 years. He is a Certified Master Textile Cleaner, IICRC certified in Rug Cleaning (IICRCRCT141), and experienced in all types of fibers and unique soiling conditions. Kluth is committed to the highest standards of education in the industry and educates clients on how to maintain and preserve their fine rugs.

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