July 29, 2014

Elaine And I Love Theatre. Now What Does That Have To Do With The Glass Industry?

By Paul Bieber

It does, this way. I read a daily blog from a gentleman named Ken Davenport about Broadway, the theatre and his role as a producer of plays and musicals. It is really an interesting blog for me because it marries two of my loves: the theatre and business. (I am waiting for him to buy a baseball team, and it will be the perfect triple play!)

A little while ago, Ken (all of us bloggers are on a first-name basis) wrote a blog about getting and maintaining your customer base. So, using some of his perspective, I’ve modified this to fit our glass industry.

You will naturally lose 10-15 percent of your customers each year. They close their business, or move to another area, or get a new manager with a cousin in the trade, or one of a hundred other reasons. So you want 25 percent new business. Make up for what you lost and add some growth. But still, the 85 percent you still have needs to keep seeing your name, which will help them remember to call you first. Customer loyalty is ever-declining as smart phones and the internet allow business and residential customers to instantly shop anything they want.  So what can you do?

In today’s world, the internet is important. You still need yellow pages for the new customers, but for retention, an email is one the best, and by far the least expensive, way to keep your company in front of your customers.  Send a monthly email with pictures of jobs you have worked on; with a short bio on one of your hard-working employees; with a blurb about a new product that you are carrying or with an energy-savings tip, like low-E or thermally broken metal.

You don’t have to be fancy. Your customers are not interested in your graphics skills. If you offer interesting and helpful hints to your customers, they will read your emails and will remember you when they have a need for glass, metal, or anything you work in.

There are two companies—Constant Contact, (constantcontact.com) and Vertical Response, (verticalresponse.com)—that can assist you by setting up your mailing lists and helping you designing your emails. They are both good. I use Vertical Response for a weekly mailing for an organization I am involved with, and after a couple of hours playing, I had it down cold. There is a small cost per email sent. 

With either company, plan on setting up multiple mailing lists—one for residential customers and one for commercial customers. Based on the theme of the email you write, you can send it to one or both lists. You can set up many more lists.. .think of property and facility managers, real estate agents, hospitals and medical offices and just about any type of business that you deal with, or you want to deal with.

When you write your email, start out by keeping it simple and short. Ask a few customers if they read it and what they liked about it. Build from there. You can easily put in a link to one of your vendors or to a technical site that you often use. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll see about 80 percent of my blogs are based on business issues, and 20 percent are more for fun or are very general in nature. You can mention a job you have done for a local YMCA at materials only. It’s OK to pat yourself on the back once in a while.

Plan on spending a couple of hours learning the program you select and then a couple of hours per month writing the email. Better yet, if you have the staff, delegate this to someone in your office. Do you want more info? As a free service to USGlass readers, I’ll be glad to speak about this to any reader for a half-hour. Drop me a note at paulbaseball@msn.com, and I can set up a time to speak with you. 

Make sure you proof the copy before hitting the send button.  Their iz noting woorse thyn tipos an misstaques inn da bezness emall.