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  • Getting the referral

    After you do a restoration for someone, the bill is paid and the customer's happy, is that the end of it? Are you ever in contact with the customer again, or do you just hope he'll put in a good word for you? What should we do to help insure a recommendation from him?

    Ed

  • #2
    99% of the time if the customer is happy with the work they come back with more jobs and in the mean time tell others about the service. Repeat customers are usually a sign that you must be doing something right, or else they are masochists. Tom

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    • #3
      I guess I agree with Tom, if they are happy they will tell others and they will return. I usually just leave it up to them.
      DJ

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      • #4
        When I was a capitalist all the prints and repair stuff going out (Not Masters) had a discreet sticker on the back with the labs contact details. Cost pennies but one never really had any means of quantifying their effectiveness. Got repeat business though.

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        • #5
          Christmas cards to clients works wonders - January is always one of our highest grossing months and I'm sure it must be because of the reminder that we are here and appreciate our clients.

          Jim Conway

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          • #6
            I think a personal call to the customer, maybe 6 months or so down the road is good too. You could tell the customer that you were just interested in the reactions of other people towards the restoration, and ask if they might have any suggestions as to how you could provide better service. Just let them know that you're still interested in their level of satisfaction. Finding reasons to contact past customers is a proven way of getting more work. You need to keep your name in front of them every so often or they tend to forget about you.

            Ed

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            • #7
              I'll respectfully disagree with your thought of asking the customer how you can improve your services Ed. Although I am a strong believer in surveys, I have them done with random phone calls. (in fact some of them have been published in other forums). I would worry that I'd be setting up "doubts" in the mind of my clients if I ask them directly what I should be doing. It seems to me that it might raise the idea that we are concerned about our professional standing.

              I go in the opposite direction in our occasional mailings and "drop names" - for example citing a recent photo materials analysis we did for The American Institute of Physics ... or our loan collection on Photo Conservation (30x40 story boards) being requested by the Curator for exhibit at the historical society during one of their special fund raising events, ...things like that.

              Jim Conway

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              • #8
                I like Jim's approach, although I would never make the call in the first place. I would go with a postcard instead. It's non-intrusive, and it' something they can post on the fridge as a reminder. I don't know about anyone else, but the majority of people I know, don't like receiving sales calls, no matter how they're disquised. To me, the whole idea of sales calls seems outdated, cheap, and desperate.
                Ok, I know a postcard costs money, and people could see it as junk mail, but I still think the odds are better.

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                • #9
                  Excellent points from both of you, and certainly something to consider when making any type of contact. But I'm a firm believer that you need to keep your past customers aware of the fact that you're still around. There are a lot of ways to do that, and the phone call might not be the best way.

                  Ed

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                  • #10
                    Referrals

                    Don't know if this fits into this conversation or not, but I got two good jobs in yesterday from referrals from the Historic Preservation League. You can get involved in membership at the national or local level and it 's a great group of people with a common interest.

                    Because their magazine, newsletters and literature are slanted toward building restorations, you might not think about it for photo work, however, it's much like selling antique hardware, the people that work on these historic homes are interested in decor that includes old photos ...their own family if they have them and if not, whatever they can find that will do the job.

                    Jim Conway
                    Timemark Photo Conservators

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                    • #11
                      Good point Jim. Another one to look into are geneology groups/orgs. Now there's a group of people with a lot of old photos and are interested in having the work that we do done!

                      My approach to referrals is to send out a post card (see Business Challenge #1). I send out my card with a nice little note saying thanks in the hopes they will hold onto the card and pass it to a friend. Or if nothing else it is a little reminder and they think "how nice" and next time they show off their repaired such in such to their friend they may name drop!

                      At my previous place of employment people would come in with newspaper articles about the business that were 15 years old or anchient business cards and brochures. It's amazing where people dig up a name!

                      One thing that is important to remember is that people feel more comfortable when they have a word of mouth recommendation. So as Jim said treat the work well, treat the client well, be friendly and thoughtful and do a good job and your previous clients will help you advertise!

                      Don't forget to keep a mailing list and add your new clients to it. Also ask people when they call or come in where they got your name. It is nice to know who is recommending you. If your business is mainly from the yellow pages you might want a bigger ad. If a certain frame shop recommends you a lot you might drop by and say thanks, send them brochures or cards so they can hand them out instead of writing information on a scrap of paper or send them a Thankyou. Every little bit helps and showing your appreciation just gives you more business.

                      Just my thoughts on the subject.

                      --Heather

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