Last Updated: November 12, 2020

Is this your post plumbing job checklist?

Plumbing customer retention checklist

What percentage of those customers do you realistically expect to contact you next time?

More importantly, is there anything you can do to increase that percentage?

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Doing Better At Plumbing Customer Retention

In this blog post you are going to learn;

  1. Why it’s more profitable to focus on customer retention.
  2. What practical steps you can take to improve your plumbing customer retention.
  3. Some software we recommend to automate this for you.

Getting Plumbing Customers Is Expensive

Getting new plumbing customers can be really expensive. With clicks on Google Ads running anywhere from $10-$15 and leads from service aggregators costing $40-$60, actually getting a new customer job can cost north of $200.

While it’s exciting to get new customers, getting new customers at $150-$200 for jobs that average $200-$300 in profit is not a great way to grow the profits of your plumbing business.

Increasing Plumbing Customer Value Via A Retention Strategy

Profits From Low Retention

If you retain 25% of those new customers your customer value comes in at;

  • $100 ($300-$200 marketing cost) for the first job.
  • and ($250x25%) $63 for the 2nd job.

A total of $163.

Profits From High(er) Retention

Increasing that retention from 25% to 80% changes the dynamics:

  • You still get $100 from the first job.
  • And ($250x80%) $200 from the 2nd job.

A total of $300

But it’s a repeat game as you get 55% better retention year on year so the real difference is much more over 5 or 10 years.

It’s about $1250 over 10 years.

Sure the numbers are going to vary, but you get the idea. Retaining more customers after the first job increases your overall profits.

It also;

  • Increases referrals as repeat customers are more likely to refer.
  • Increases your number online reviews.
  • Increases your profit margin.
  • Decreases complaints as customer know, like and trust your business and know what to expect.
  • Increases your profit per customer so you can afford to outbid your competitors to get a new customer.

That’s why I’m stunned that many home services businesses like plumbers do not make more effort to keep in touch with customers.

Use Email To Increase Plumbing Customer Retention

If you’re wondering the best way to increase your customer retention, look no further. Email is the answer. Here are some examples.

Collecting Email Addresses

Getting an email address is not that hard. Collect their email address as part of process of starting a job for notifications, reviews or invoicing. Then add them to your list. Just make it easy for them to unsubscribe if they want to. For example,

We’d like to keep you informed ahead of the job on Wednesday, can I please have your email address to keep you uptodate with the scheduling of your repair.

Ideally, you should ask for permission, before for putting a contact on your list. This helps to minimise unsubscribes, spam complaints and privacy legislation complaints.

Segment Your Plumbing Email Lists

It’s important to break your list into groups that reflect the relationship your plumbing business has with people on your email list. For example;

  • Names on the list that have never asked you to do a job for them.
  • Names on the list that have asked you to do a first job for them but the job is not yet done.
  • Names on the list that you have done a job for in the last 2-3 months.
  • Names on the list that you have done a job for more than 3 months ago.

Onboard New Plumbing Leads (2 above)

Retention starts at the beginning of the relationship. It’s not something you should leave until your customer has not come back to you for a plumbing service in the last two years!

The first flows for a new contact could look like this;

  • Confirm the schedule of the job
  • Welcome email to explain what to expect from your business and show them some more detail about your brand
  • On completion of the job, thank them for the job and send a feedback request / online review request email.
  • Add them to your customer nurture list.
  • Schedule any follow up emails that you can send that relate to the job you completed.

Here's the sequence in a Marketing Automation system. All you would need to do here is add the customer's name, their email address and the date of the service. The system takes care of the rest.

new plumbing customer onboarding sequence

Nurture Past Customers - Send A Regular Email / Newsletter

The goals of the nurture email process is essentially building the know, like and trust factors;

  • To remind customers that your plumbing business still exists (raise awareness)
  • To expand their perception of your business to help them understand the full range of services your business provides
  • To encourage them to contact your business when they have a plumbing issue.

Send Emails Related To Plumbing Services

Send them emails based on plumbing services they have used you for. Here’s a couple of examples:

  1. If you installed a new hot water heater, remind them to check the pressure relief valve every 6 months, and encourage them to flush out any sediment from the heater cylinder and get them to get you to check the anode every 12 or 18 months.
  2. If you cleared some tree roots from a customer’s drain. Remind them to get you back to clear new root growth ever year.

Here's how that would look in a marketing automation. All you need to do is add the next service date in the customer's record and the automation takes care of the rest of the process. In the end, it notifies you or someone else at a nominated email address to call the customer and book a service.

In many cases the customer will already have done that booking saving you time. 

The Goal in this automation means that the 2nd email will not be sent if the person has already responded to the first reminder email.

plumbing customer reminder sequence in marketing automation

Send Emails Related To Home Plumbing Maintenance Tips

There’s plenty of plumbing hits and maintenance tips you can send to your email list. If you are ready for it you can even record video how to’s and send a link to your videos in the email.

This type of activity really increases people’s knowledge of your business and well as helping them trust you more because you are helping and educating them.

Don’t forget that you can reuse much of this content on social media and on your blog.

In fact the best way to do this is to write the blog posts and then share it via email and on social media.

Solicit Feedback And Trigger Sales

If a customer has not booked a plumbing job with you for (say) 18 months, here’s somethings to try;

  1. Offer them a freebie or a valuable upgrade to encourage them to book a job with you.
  2. Ask for feedback. If a customer is not booking work with you, it’s perhaps because there’s something missing in your service or they don’t think you care about them.
  3. Asking for feedback shows you do actually care about their opinion.
  4. Let them know about new products and services you are able to offer.

How To Do This

We use and recommend ActiveCampaign for this type of work. It’s relatively easy to use for;

  • Setting up email collection forms.
  • Getting date based and trigger based email sequences set up.
  • Sending newsletters.
  • Tracking engagement.

Wrapping Up

I hope you see the benefit of using email to increase customer retention. Retention may be less glamorous than new customer acquisition, but it’s also less expensive – and it’s also the best growth strategy I know.

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