You are chugging along, knocking out pools on your route, and are having a good day. As you approach one of your favorite pools to take care of – there it is, planted firmly in the ground. It mocks you as you slow your truck to make sure you are reading it correctly. Around the curb, centered in the yard, stands a tiny billboard reading “Pool Home for Sale.” Sonoma itch! For you, this is nothing less than a beacon announcing the potential loss of an easy pool with an owner who pays on time. Mother Father!!!
The cost of acquiring a new customer is always significantly higher than the cost of keeping an existing one, but where does this fit into the mix? Technically, same pool or not, this is a new customer you are trying to gain, but this time, you have a bit of an edge. You are, after all, the expert that knows the pool at the house they just purchased. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that you have this in the bag. There will still need to be some effort made on your part if you want to keep this swimming pool on your route, and you will need to have everyone involved in your corner.
First things first, you need to have a chat with your existing customer. The seller does have some valuable influence here. Ask if it would be okay to put a business card size magnet on the refrigerator in a place that would be visible while the house is shown to potential buyers. Maybe some cards on the counter if that is okay – you never know who (realtor or potential buyer) may pick one of these up, especially if the pool looks great. This could help but may also lead to additional opportunities. See if they might be open to “inadvertently” leaving that magnet behind (and in place) on the refrigerator when they turn over the keys to the new owner.
A verbal recommendation from the seller to the buyer is always a welcome testimonial but not as valuable as keeping the swimming pool in pristine condition throughout the showing and the sales process. A beach ball with your logo on it floating about the pool is fun and jovial. Of course, the norms, like a sticker with your company info on the motor or on the door to the time clock box, do not hurt.
Do not leave all of this on the shoulders of the seller. You should involve the realtor in this process as well. I wouldn’t bother you “soon to be ex” customer in this unless you need to. The realtor information is readily available on that sign they had placed on the front lawn. Yes, we will want a recommendation, and the real estate agent should be happy to give you one providing they have been pleased with the pool’s appearance during the period of their contract with the seller.
Often, real estate agents will purchase some housewarming gift for the new homeowner. There is absolutely no reason that the realtor cannot gift the new homeowner with one month of pool service (This they purchase from you at either your normal or a discounted rate). Think of all the buyers’ things on their plate following the closing with the move, putting everything in their name, and utilities. Why should they have to worry about the pool too? As soon as the sign in the front yard indicates that an offer has been made, find out who the buyers’ realtor is as well. We will want to hit them up.
Think of the additional benefits fostering a good relationship with the realtors can have, above and beyond the retention of this account. Realtors often have other pool homes for sale in need of attention. If they do not at the moment – it is coming. They also often end up with foreclosed homes with pools that become REOs (real-estate owned properties). From time to time, realtors are asked if they know of companies that offer swimming pool inspections.
Finally, whether you have heard from the new homeowner after the closing or not, you should send a HANDWRITTEN card congratulating the buyers on purchasing their new home. Have this communication lean toward sincere good wishes versus a sales pitch. Do drop in a business card. If after a few months you have not secured this account, somewhere after Memorial Day but before July 4th, I would send a friendly email “just to see how they were doing and to see if they had any questions about their pool.”
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