One of the best bits of advice we can give to any fledgling or word-of-mouth-reliant business is:
Make it easy for people to recommend you
“who do you use to wash your car?”
“Oh, it’s a chap… something detailing… his name’s Steve… Urrr”
“oh ok… I’ll just google him”
At that point there, you’ve potentially lost a customer.
Or a customer in-potentia
They exist, but not in your business universe as yet, because your otherwise happy customer can’t recall your details off hand.
The first port of call is your branding. Your name, your image. We did a blog on naming your business ages ago, so do check that out if you haven’t decided – clever isn’t necessarily memorable, but generic is forgettable. If you can’t get the exact website URL for “Daves detailing”, or it’s similar to others in your area – maybe David’s detailing is half a mile away – you’re giving customers a chance to mistake you for someone else.
So you’re unique, but how do you stamp your name into customers’ memories?
Business cards – the obvious answer. Business cards are one area I’ve never scrimped on. So many times you’re handed a 3”x2.5” scrap of wafer-thin card, designed on a template with a random car image on the back. That’s going to go into the back pocket and through the wash never to be seen again. Designing an odd card, either by shape or finish on a decent-weight of card that people are going to notice in their pocket will prevent accidental laundering. It is also the first statement this potential new customer will see from your business so you want it to be good. Also don’t just give people one – give them two so there’s the implicit “pass this out to your friends” without actually having to say it – maybe with a referral discount on the back!
Window cling. Note – not a sticker. A cling is an easy-to-remove bit of free advertising for your business. Don’t take liberties with the size and the customer will have no reason to remove it. Feature a recognisable version of your logo, perhaps with a “detailed by” tagline and some form of contact details if possible. The rear can be used as a service record with the last or next appointment as a secondary jog to the customer.
Air fresheners. – get a range of odours with your contact details on the back and add them and the end of each detail. If you’re not sure if the customer wants it you can always hang it wrapped and they can choose to release the scent if they want. the advantage of these is once it fades, it’s another memory jog to rebook a service!
Anything else branded. It doesn’t have to be anything they have to hand when asked for the recommendation, but if they are likely to see it on a daily basis recollection will be better. Mugs, keychains, branded cloths, coasters. Some of the best ones are unique to your industry – i.e. a locking wheel nut bag for wheel refurbishers, or a bottle of glass cleaner for window tinters. Could you stretch to a small custom bottle of Quick Detailer or a small branded microfibre (non-marring!)? It’ll get used!
It doesn’t have to be just giveaways though. Stencilling logos into the carpet with a brush, text appointment reminders with your contact details on them, anything you can do to get your number or name easy to pass on will likely do more for your business than £1000 worth of Google AdWords…
Early on it’s easy to look at the cost of the branding and baulk – spending hundreds on air fresheners seems like a potential waste until you look at the recommendation tree…
The recommendation tree is the flow of work recommendations and how they multiply. It starts with one happy customer and multiplies from there down, each recommending to a friend or two. Break that chain with a misremembered recommendation and you’re losing every branch below. You have to spend money to make money, and this shouldn’t be a difficult benefit to see short-term gains from.
Want more useful and constructive business advice? Check out our Business and Marketing course, for new businesses or those that need a little jump start…