How to Work with Past Customers for Strong Testimonials & Referrals
by Heidi J. Ellsworth, owner, HJE Consulting
(Editor’s Note: Heidi J. Ellsworth, a graduate of the University of Portland, has been working in the roofing industry since 1993. Having held positions with EagleView® Technology Corporation, Carlisle® Construction Materials, Eco-Star™, and Malarkey Roofing Products®, Ellsworth is now the founder of the roofing-focused marketing firm, HJE Consulting Group. She is also the author of Sales and Marketing for Roofing Contractors, a guide for small businesses in the roofing industry.)
As a roofing company, referrals and testimonials are more important than ever. Future customers need to know that your company will not only provide a roof that will protect their family and business, but also be safe during the process. An excellent way to stay in front of what your past clients are saying, and be sure that future customers are hearing good reviews, is to gather testimonials. Customers want to work with companies that have a great reputation of completing exemplary work in the past. They also want to know that the roofing company is conscientious and has a reputation for extreme safety measures. By documenting current and past successful installations and consumer experiences through testimonials of past customers, it helps to develop trust with new customers.
However, many roofing contractors are shy about asking for reviews, or feel that it is not professional. It is professional, but only when done the right way with the right questions. If your sales team is currently completing sales cycles correctly, it should be very easy to get testimonials and feedback on every job. One of the most important parts of a roofing installation is the final inspection, which is the perfect time to ask how the company did and how the customer feels about the overall process. Sales teams need to ask and be ready to deal with positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback needs to be recorded and turned into testimonials. Negative feedback needs to be dealt with, corrected, and then the sales team needs to ask again. Here are five key pieces of advice to use when asking for testimonials:
When the roof is done and looks great, ask for the testimonial during the final inspection. The longer the salesperson or roofing company owner waits to confirm satisfaction with the customer, the more danger of losing the new roof glow.
Make it easy for the customer. While performing the final inspection, if everything looks great, ask them if it is ok to record their testimonial and take pictures of them on the completed roof. Be sure to include hand-washing stations, masks, and other safety measures in the photos to show that care is being taken to keep everyone safe.
Write it for Them
Audio or video can be transcribed, and testimonials can easily be pulled from the text. If they don’t want to be recorded, write down what they say instead. Be sure to be prepared with the selling points you want to make to future customers and include them in the questions. By writing or recording what they say during the final inspection and sending it back to the customer for approval, you have the chance to make the points you want, and you make it easy for the customer.
Ask the Right Questions
Ask questions that run the life of the sale, including how they found you if they are new, how easy the estimating experience was, were they given all the information they felt they needed to make an informed decision, and if they like the final product. Have them talk about how both the sales team and installation crew kept their safety as the highest priority. Do not be scared to ask customers how to do things better in the future. That is where you will get stronger testimonials and the opportunity for overall improvement.
Start with a Compliment
When asking for a testimonial, be sure to lead with how much you appreciate their business and their willingness to provide feedback. After reviewing the job and getting a testimonial, do not forget to ask about future work and what else they may need. It is also the perfect time to ask for referrals. Not only can they provide a testimonial, but they can also spread the word through the neighborhood, on social media, and through their business network.