Starting a "one customer a day" program can net millions.

In many parts of the country, it was a hot summer. Hopefully, you were busy. But we all know how quickly the weather can change. Last year, the Midwest had a very cool summer, which did not help air-conditioning sales and service.

While there is nothing you can do about the weather, there are ways to ensure you make money regardless of the forecast.

If you want to have a profitable HVAC business, work to decrease the seasonal nature of your business.

What would happen if you generated one new customer every day? Could you do that? Would you do that? A colleague of mine, marketing expert Adams Hudson, got me thinking about this. He actually posed this question in one of his free e-newsletters.

Here is his calculation: If you grabbed one new customer every workday, with weekends and other occasional days off, you'd have about 250 more customers by year end.

According to Adams, the lifetime value of one residential client, figured over 10 years, including just two referrals a year is estimated to be around $65,000.

Don't reach for the calculator - that's just over $16 million.

Yes, $16 million for your "one customer a day" program if you start today and only practiced for one year. If you can't stand to try a year, try a month.

Here's some ideas

But what should you do to generate that customer? Here are some ideas:

  • Make a list of everyone you do business with. This includes your dentist, doctor, insurance agent, banker and suppliers. Ask for their business. After all, you are providing revenues to them; they might reciprocate.

  • Make a list of your friends, neighbors, fellow church members and relatives. They are also potential customers.

  • Have an "oldest furnace" contest. Joe Crisara has a great program that you can use. He includes press releases, letters and everything else you need to be successful in his easy-to-follow program. Reach him at (877) 764-6304 or e-mail info@bigtimebusiness.com.

  • Join a sales-leads group and go every week. This is one of the quickest and best ways to build your business. It's referrals from trusted sources.

  • Swap customer lists with companies who are in allied and related industries. Find a plumber you trust. Do a joint promotion with an electrician or a lawn-care company. You'll both get new customers.

None of these activities are difficult to do. However, you have to commit to them. Then the next time the weather doesn't cooperate, you'll be working the telephone and generating work while your competition is complaining - and losing money.

Referrals

Now let's talk about referral programs. This is another great way to generate one new customer per day. Remember, if you do this for one year, it will be worth over $16 million in business.

The best way I know to generate referrals is to solicit them - that means ask for them. I realize that many people don't like to give out referrals because they fear you will use their name.

If you encounter such hesitation, say that you won't use their name. Then when you call, say, "A mutual friend suggested that I call you."

Also go through your old files. Those of you who do new-construction work have a potential gold mine there. Since your company installed the systems, your company should be the one to maintain them.

Put your referral program on the back of your business cards. Point it out when you give a card to customers or prospective customers. You want your name remembered when the opportunity arises.

Call customers 30 days after you install their new system. Make sure that they are happy with it and ask whom they have spoken to about it. People don't spend thousands of dollars without telling someone about their purchases. This is why yard signs are so critical. Neighbors are nosy. They see work being done in the area and ask about it. Your yard sign could prompt a telephone call.

These are ways to generate referrals. One per day will do it. You're on your way to $16 million.

(Copyright 2005, Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093. Call (800) 511-6844; e-mail ruthking@hvac channel.tv.)