Now that the summer busy season is ending, it's time to review some simple marketing ideas that will ensure that you stay active year-round.

Remember that marketing doesn't have to cost a lot. The cheapest form is a business card. All of your technicians should have one with their name and the company's telephone number. I've seen some cards with the technician's cell phone number on it. That's not a good idea. The customer should call the office, not the technician directly.

Make it a habit to distribute 500 to 1,000 cards per year. The technicians should give a card to each customer, every time. You never know when happy customers will pass it along to neighbors, co-workers or relatives who need your services.

Always wear clothing with the name of your business. People who need your services will stop you in supermarkets and shopping malls. These conversations often result in additional calls and equipment sales, simply because you are advertising the name of your business.

If someone gets the courage to stop you and ask a question, ask for the order. Don't lose the opportunity.

The appearance of your technicians and trucks is critical. A clean truck is a necessity. It may not get noticed. However, dirty, dented trucks will and leave a negative impression, especially if customers see it pulling into their driveways.

How do you keep the trucks clean? You must lead by example. If your truck is dirty, your technicians' trucks will also be dirty. If you allow technicians to take trucks home, make washing them a requirement of the privilege. Warn them if their trucks aren't clean. The next time, they lose the privilege of taking the truck home for a day - or a week. This inconveniences them because many have only one other car. Hopefully, a week is enough to change the behavior.

Many contractors with tracking systems in their trucks are now fining the technicians for driving the trucks after-hours, due to the high cost of gasoline. No technician wants to pay $1 per mile for moving his truck after hours without permission.

Technicians should always have a clean shirt with them. If they get dirty, they should change. The first customer of the day and the last customer of the day should both get the same neat-looking technician.

Make sure that you keep "tickler files" and always look for work. Your technicians are your eyes and ears. When they properly do diagnostic work, it doesn't cost anything extra to spend a few minutes writing down what is going on with customers' systems. Customers can approve or decline the repairs, and you can follow up with them later. And, you have a built-in system for generating additional work.

Public relations activities are important. Volunteering your time in your community and allowing your employees to volunteer theirs increases your company's exposure. They may also help grow your business. Do something good and give back.