Being a dealer today can be challenging. Methods of getting a repeat builder’s business that have worked in the past are not necessarily working today. New customers are great. But what about your current customers? Is your approach proactive, or more “set it and forget it”? If you don’t have an airtight plan for keeping your builders loyal, this post is for you.
Loyalty has always been important to business, but it’s increasingly harder to come by. With easy access to a world of information and suppliers, the digital age is spelling the end of customer loyalty everywhere. But not to fear. There are easy steps you can take to keep your builders from straying.
EXPAND YOUR INFLUENCE
Before we talk about the how let’s take a quick minute to discuss the who. Are the majority of your conversations with your builder’s purchasing department? Probably. And that makes sense. They’re the gatekeeper and the decision maker. You can and should keep that relationship high on your priority list, and talk with them about what’s important in their world – pricing (especially price increases), distribution information, etc. Remember that purchasers care about the bottom line, yes, but they care about value more. Being the lowest price on your products will actually throw up red flags for purchasers. They’re not just looking for low prices, they’re looking for a good value for their money and are willing to pay more if they see the benefits.
But don’t forget about other departments. Get in touch with the construction manager and ask if you can swing by his job site to share some information. Make sure he’s aware of all the benefits of your products, make sure he has all the installation training materials he needs, as well as information about customer satisfaction and code compliance of what you sell.
The sales and marketing team should be your next stop. Drop by in person at the sales office and make sure they’re well-versed in the benefits your products have for their customers. If you get them on your side and pumped to extol the amazing features and benefits of your products, they’ll get their customers hooked, and then you’re gold.
BE A RESPECTED EXPERT
Know your products inside and out. Have all the latest information, updates, and news about everything you sell and make sure you’re there to pass that knowledge onto your builders. Remember, you’ve already gained them as a client, so you don’t really need to “sell” them anymore.
What you need to do is be an accessible resource of information that is always there for them. Make sure they know how to reach you through phone or email, and be open to personal communication from them on a regular basis. A quick personalized call or email to make sure they don’t have any questions or concerns says loads about how much you care.
KEEP THEM IN THE LOOP
There are a lot of great ways to stay connected to your builders, and most take just a few minutes a day to maintain. Build an email list and send out regular updates on new product information, sales, and more. If you don’t have one or more social media accounts, sign up and start posting. Have a blog on your site and keep it updated with good, relevant posts that your builders will care about. Toot your own horn once in a while with great customer satisfaction stories and news about awards. You can even send out holiday cards to your builders (remember all the departments!) to show that you care about them outside of a strictly business environment.
The key to keeping in touch is to strike a good balance between staying in someone’s mind without overwhelming. Make sure that your builders know that you’re always there for them, but know when to step back enough to let them breathe, too.
GET TO KNOW THEM
We’ve saved the most important tip for last. All the product information, emails, and chats with sales reps aren’t going to do squat unless you know what their unique needs are. Before you start blasting them with emails or phone calls, ask if you can set up a time for a brief business planning meeting to go over their needs and how you can help. Ask them to tell you about their business. How was it last year? What are their plans for this year? Where are their challenges? Find out what you can do to be a better supplier, and then follow through and offer relevant solutions.
The most important thing here is the order. Listen first, and offer suggestions and solutions second. The power of a builder truly feeling that you care about their success can’t be overstated. Be caring and genuine. It’s what will make you stand out in the sea of aloof and salesy suppliers they have circling around them every day. Also, remember to be open to negative feedback, and adjust your strategies as necessary.
Builder loyalty isn’t quite a thing of the past. You’ve just got to think differently and give it a bit of work. But the rewards will be huge.