Have you ever had the thought? – “man, if only I never had a cancelation- just think how big my route would be.”
Most companies keep a canceled file. I worked for one where 5 or 6 ceiling high cabinets were full of nothing but customers that once were. Wow! Seems like a big waste. You’d think once someone was on board with your service you’d keep them forever, but alas, not to be. Every pest control firm has clients who quit the service.
This question often crossed our entrepreneur Jim’s mind. He couldn’t fathom why some customers just ‘up and disappeared’, where they went, why they went.
So when Jim was presented with the awesome opportunity of having 3 pest control business related wishes come true by the Great Chlordaney–(follow this link to see how that happened) that was the first thing that entered his mind.
Jim’s First Wish
The dust has settled but Jim rubs his eyes and then peering at me- rubs them again just to make sure. Perhaps he’s tired, worn out from all of the hard work. Maybe he’s just fell asleep on the crawl space floor and is having a dream. Either way, Jim senses a chance here, an opportunity to kick his business into high gear and he promised himself long ago that when opportunity presented itself–he was gonna GRAB IT!!
“I want anybody and everybody back who has ever canceled my service!” he exclaimed and was surprised by his own boldness.
“Ha!” the Great Chlordaney (that’s me) retorted. “An easy request, — Let It Be Done” and zaaap!!!!!, a flash of light and a loud pop and Jim was forced to duck his head and close his eyes. As the ringing in his ears began to subside he again rubbed his eyes as looked up only to find himself standing in his office (the den of his home) in front of his huge numbers board on the wall.
Jim had always been a numbers guy. He kept track sales, goals, production totals and even cancelations. He had a bar graph to the side of the board in the shape of a thermometer where he kept a tally of total customers on board. You could see where he had to revise and erase the level and corresponding numbers many times. Get two clients lose one, lose two pick up one, add four back down two…. The total was increasing (at a snails pace) and it was nothing that Jim was doing wrong mind you, just the nature of the game. Still he often wondered –what if…..
So suddenly Jim’s new board had soared to great numbers. His thermometer chart was almost to the top & his production was almost doubled, every goal had a huge green check mark next to its accomplished height and the red colored number he used for cancels, a big fat zero!. “Amazing!!! he thought to himself, how can this be?”
At that point there was a voice from behind which startled him. Jim spun to see a nicely dressed lady with a head set on and a stack of papers in her hand. “Line two is for you and here are some papers you really need to look at” she politely said– and then turning she made her way back to her desk. “I have a secretary?” Jim wondered out loud. As Jim was trying to make sense of it all he took a quick glance at the papers he was handed. Just then, Linda, his office help remarked over her shoulder, “don’t forget line two is for you, it’s a Mr. Chlordaney.”
By this time Jim’s head was swimming with thoughts and emotions. He didn’t know what to make of what has just happened to him. Sitting down at his desk he glanced back up at his board- these were only dream numbers, they couldn’t possibly be true, it seemed he had every customer he had ever done service for- ALL OF THEM! “Line Two” came a sharper tone from his secretary- Then Jim remembered, “Chlordaney! he squealed out with excitement, what will I wish for now?” Looking down he pushed the blinking button…….
What About You?
Jim had only been in business for 7 years but in that short time he had lost close to 300 clients when you add in all the one shots he had hoped to convert. Seems like a lot but if you do the math, it’s only 3 per month. At his average price of $50 bucks a service once every two months– that’s a whopping $ 90k. $ 90K!!!!!! Man does that raise an eyebrow or what!?!
So- How many have you lost? What if you could have kept all of them? Unrealistic? Ok, how bout 1/2 or even 1/4? Wouldn’t life be a lot sweeter now? The fact is that cancelations are just a reality that no one escapes. This subject is pretty big and there are all sorts of reasons of the why’s, what’s and where for. So for this discussion I’ll just present a few ideas that may help– a few that I don’t read so much in those guru books 😉 – You may have some other thoughts. If so, I’d sure like to hear them. (we all would) Just leave em in the comment section below…..oh be sure to check back on our story. Jim’s adventures with the Great Chlordaney aren’t quite over yet.
A Few Proactive thoughts;
One of the worst things you can do for customers that cancel is just watch them walk away. Try to stop them! It’s so much easier & cheaper to try and keep a customer than it is to get new ones.
A free service is one of the quickest ways to stop a cancelation. Not a free complaint visit only to charge them in a few weeks when they’re due. But a “second chance” if you will, a gesture of good will and thanksgiving for the time they’ve been with you. A chance to come face to face and see what it is you can actually change to make the service better, or maybe just a chance to clear the air. I have too many (I bet you do too) cancelations that I have no earthly idea as to why. At least this way you give yourself one last shot and you’re offering them something that they’ve paid for in the past, why wouldn’t they want a free month? Chances are they’ll come clean and you can resolve the issue.
Try It Again Discount
Ok they’ve canceled, that doesn’t mean you file them away & only think of them once in a blue moon as you pass their home. Give them a call, send them an email or postcard offering them a discount if they come back. Who knows? It may just open an otherwise closed door.
Make a call and see why they canceled in the first place. This might not help you get the customer back but it will help you with customers in the future. What did they think about the service they received? What about price? What was the reason they decided to cancel? Keep it short and be polite but get right to the heart of the matter if you can. Answers to these questions will make a huge difference in understanding your customers.
Don’t be last minute
When the day comes and you get the call they’re going to cancel, it probably was a long time coming. After a few services and their growing unhappiness they’ve finally decided and canceled their account. What you should try and do is be one step ahead. Check in with your customers once in awhile. Maybe you’ll see them at a game or other local event. If so, don’t avoid them, instead ask- How is it going? Are they happy with their service? Would they recommend you to a friend? The last question is a pretty big red flag of whether or not they’re actually happy with you.
The worst thing you can do is ignore those who are leaving your service behind. Chances are that there are others who feel the same way and their phone call is just days away. Be proactive. Sure it’s a bit of work but like I said, it’s so much easier to ‘save’ an existing client than it ever is to attain a new one.