5 Ways to Get More Composite Decking Project Referrals
The reality of any business is that success can only be achieved by acquiring new customers. This is especially true for project-based businesses such as deck building because once the new composite deck is built, there is often little repeat business potential from that individual customer. However, this doesn’t mean that contractors should employ a ‘set it and forget it’ policy by completely abandoning clients as soon as the new deck project is completed. In fact, successful companies understand the importance of asking for, acquiring and using referrals as the best way to keep the new business pipeline full.
Here are some tried and true ways to increase the number of customer referrals your company can get.
1. Ask for them! If you’re pleased with how a new composite deck was able to transform your customer’s outdoor living area, chances are that the homeowner will also be eager and willing to share photos and kind words about the project. The best time to ask a customer if they would be willing to be a referral for you is immediately after the job is completed. Show them some specific examples of how previous customers have been profiled and shared in the past. Then ask them if they would be willing to do the same thing.
Remember the old sports analogy that you’ll miss 100% of shots you don’t take? The same thing applies to asking for customer referrals. No matter how beautiful the new composite deck came out, if you don’t ask the customer to be a referral, they are highly unlikely to offer it on their own. In most cases, what’s really on their mind is getting outside and actually enjoying the beautiful new outdoor living space you’ve just built for them!
2. Be active online and on social media. Since most customers use online research to find and screen builders, contractors and hardscape professionals, it’s critical that deck builders stay up to date with what’s being said about them online. The best way for contractors to monitor online content is to create it themselves. At the completion of every project, invite each client to share something about the experience through social media. Identify specific sites – Facebook, Google, Instagram, Home Advisor, Angie’s List - where you’d like them to post a picture or write a review. Ideally, your marketing materials – brochures, business card, invoices, etc. – should also tell a customer specifically which websites you’d like them to post a review on.
Lastly, small business owners should also get into the habit of “Googling themselves” every few weeks to identify where customers, partners or competitors are talking about their business online. Consider setting up alerts through Google for search terms such as “deck builder reviews” or “composite deck contractors near me” to identify other websites where new customers may already be gathering information for an upcoming project.
3. Encourage your crew members. In most businesses, the cost of acquiring a new customer is one of the primary expenses tied to the sales and marketing budget. A quick calculation would suggest that the acquisition cost of each new decking customer would equal the number of projects completed divided by the amount spent of advertising, marketing, etc. With this number in mind, encouraging every member of your crew to be on the lookout for new business by offering additional perks or financial incentives makes good business sense. At the same time, because the total project cost of building a new composite deck for a homeowner could easily reach several thousand dollars, a small investment in providing a $50 bonus for each new customer referral an employee gets makes good business sense too.
4. Only use quality materials and do good work. While it may seem obvious, the best way to ensure that a customer will agree to be a referral for your business is to do good work. For composite decking contractors, this means paying attention to everything from the craftmanship you use to the appearance and behavior of the men and women working on your crew. Most importantly, understand that your selection of building materials will speak volumes about your business long after you’ve finished the job. That’s why it’s so important to use only the best decking products on every job.
For example, installing a traditional pressure treated (PT) wooden deck for a customer may provide a quick fix solution, but how likely will that customer be willing to provide a referral for your business a year or two down the road after they’ve sweat and toiled to keep it clean, painted or stained and free of mold and mildew?
On the other hand, installing a high-quality composite deck product, such as polypro tough DuraLife™ composite decking, along with a strong, sturdy railing system, is guaranteed to stay looking great season after season. When a customer can look out onto a great new deck and see that it hasn’t warped, faded or chipped a bit since it was installed, it also reminds them that they made the right decision to choose a high-quality contractor to install it.
As an added bonus, when you’ve completed a high-quality project, product manufacturers are often eager and willing to share your photos on their websites, blogs and social media pages, providing additional exposure to your business and your work. Here at DuraLife we love sharing beautiful decks and helping quality contractors increase their exposure and grow their business. Send your DuraLife photos to us on Facebook, Instagram or via email to email@example.com.
5. Give a little to get a little. As a deck builder, there are often times when you may be required to work with other outdoor construction specialists. From General Contractors of new subdivision developments to landscapers, outdoor lighting designers, hardscape artists, stone masons, each one of these businesses are also in search of their project.
When the situation comes up where you find yourself working along an especially talented sub-contractor, make an offer to serve as a referral for his/her business. Doing so will not only help to solidify your relationship, it may also set you apart from the other deck building companies. While providing referrals for other small business may not deliver an immediate payback (although you never know!) it’s one more opportunity for a new client to find out about your deck building abilities – for free!
Lastly, composite decking project referrals can also come from other parts of the business community. Consider attending networking events and reach out to other real estate industry professionals with information and examples of your best work.
In many cases, there’s simply no substitute for positive word-of-worth advertising when it comes to most home renovation projects. Deck builders who also build strong relationships with realtors, home inspectors, architects and landscape designers are not only more likely to remain busy, they’ll also spend less time and money keeping their project pipeline full.
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This article is made possible by DuraLife. DuraLife’s unique polypropylene and hardwood composite decking materials simply outperform all other wood and composite decking products.More solid and safe under foot, DuraLife decking is backed by a 25-year warranty. It is stain and fade resistant, mold and mildew resistant, and is available in the colors and deck railing options you want. Get Samples, try our Composite Deck & Railing Visualizer, or contact DuraLife now to learn more.