Building your “repeat customer” base, those customers who rent from you year after year, is one of the best ways to build your business. The repeat business starts to build on itself and you can count on the revenue as a base from which to grow each year. You will find some residential customers who rent from you every year, but that will end once their kids are grown. To get reliable year-after-year repeat business you need to add more organizations to your customer list.
By “organizations”, I’m referring to pretty much every customer type other than residential. It could be a business (such as a day care center or martial arts studio), or schools, religious organizations, sports leagues, swim clubs, summer camps, etc. These are the kinds of customers who will come back to you every year assuming you meet, or even better exceed, expectations. Once they know they can trust you, it is much easier to stick with your company than to risk trying a competitor in order to save a few dollars.
One way I have found to increase my rentals to organizations is through cold email.
Now you may ask, isn't cold email spam? I wondered that myself, so I looked it up. You can read this blog post to learn about it in detail, but the short answer is "no", as long as you follow certain rules. And cold emailing is a lot less intrusive than cold calling.
If you were sending cold emails to residential customers, yes, that would be spam. Especially if it was from a list your bought and was done via a mass emailing service.
What we are doing is researching organizations in our area that may have a reason to rent from us, and sending a one-to-one email to see if they do indeed want to find out more.
When I've done this in past years I used a spreadsheet to keep track of who I sent an email to. This would get really messy after a while. I would have numerous tabs for each type of organization. But where it really go ugly was making notes about emails sent, what they response was, follow up needed, etc.
I now have a much better way of doing this. I use the free CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool from Hubspot. I've tried several other free and paid CRMs over the last few years, but this is the one I like the best.
I want to keep this post brief, so I will not go into great detail as to why I think Hubspot is better than the others. But one reason is that they also have a free marketing tool you will find useful that I will talk about in a future post.
If you are using Gmail or MS Outlook for email, emails sent from your account can be automatically logged into Hubspot. This is a huge time savings and keeps your customer records up to date. You can also send email from within Hubspot if you are not using Gmail or Outlook.
So let's get down to it. Here is what to do.
1) Decide on which type of organization I want to target. It is easiest to go after one type at a time.
2) Do a Google search using the organization type and a town in your delivery area. For example, "daycare springfield". Vary the search terms as needed to make sure you are getting all of the results (ex. "day care center springfield").
3) For each listing that looks promising, visit their website to learn more. When visiting the site, hopefully you will find contact information. Add this information to Hubspot. Build the Contact and their Company and make sure they are linked together.
4) Create an email template in Hubspot that can be used over and over again for this type of business. Use the built in tools so that important customer information auto populates.
5) One-by-one, send the emails to the leads you've created. If there is something about a particular lead that should be mentioned in the email, you should do that. Customize the template for each email as you see fit.
6) Move on to searching the next town over for daycare centers. Once you exhausted your delivery area of daycare centers, move on to the next oganization type. Rinse and repeat.
This is the perfect off-season business building activity and the more time you dedicate to it, the better the results. If you have more time than money, do it yourself. If you have more money than time, create the email templates then hire someone to find the leads and send the emails.
About the Author
Rob Wright is Founder of Bounce Rental Solutions and former Owner of Boing! Bounce Rentals