Sometimes the simplest ideas work the best. And since the most effective marketing and business development results from initiatives to encourage referrals and repeat business, anything you can do to achieve either or both of those results scores a near perfect 10 on the marketing planning checklist.
Ultimately, the best way to earn referral/repeat business is to deliver an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience for your clients. Yet even if you don’t have the “wow” formula in place — which can be a genuine challenge, one of which I certainly haven’t solved for my own business) you can certainly get the straightforward things right, like returning calls promptly (within hours, if possible), keeping your jobsites clean, and proactively communicating with your clients to reduce misunderstanding and confusion.
This is one area where we made some simple improvements a few years ago. Our invoicing model is unconventional — we offer a very high prompt payment (15 day) discount, and our sales representatives almost always quote the lower price. But the invoicing computer still generates invoices with the much higher gross rate on it. Customers complained, expressing confusion and concern we were overcharging.
The solution: A printed note with the invoice explaining graphically how the pricing system works, and explaining clearly that if there are problems in meeting the net rate deadline, to let us know, and we’ll work things out to ensure satisfaction. And the documentation includes MY personal phone number so that any confusion can be resolved right away, from the top.
The model change has been successful. There are no complaints and the few issues that require attention we can resolve quickly. And, yes, we’ve analyzed the value of maintaining our unorthodox invoicing model. Because some customers indeed pay the late fee, the additional revenue results in circumstances where we calculate on an annual basis a gain of about 2 per cent in overall revenue — effectively we do not have the need to write off bad debts.
The invoicing model we use may not be right for your business or practice, but simple communications tools to explain anything that may cause confusion can certainly help you maintain solid client relationships, goodwill, and set the stage for repeat and referral business.