Getting new customers is hard when you’re a contractor.

Most customers can’t tell the difference between one roofer, plumber, or painter and the next. Either you can do the job right or you can’t. Either you charge the least or you don’t. To most people, the rest is just noise.

That means when you do get a customer, it can be tempting to squeeze every dollar out of them out can. You might want to upsell them with high margin warranties and equipment that they really don’t need, or try to create more work for yourself in other ways.

If you’ve ever felt that temptation, here are just a few other, better ways you can get more out of your customers without charging them more.

1. Collect Email Addresses and Start a Newsletter

Email marketing might not seem like the best fit for contractor and home service businesses, but think again.

First off, building an email list costs basically nothing. If you’re already collecting customer info when bidding jobs or writing invoices, just add a field for your customers’ email to the form.

Sending blast emails also costs basically nothing. Mailchimp’s free package covers up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 recipients per month, which is more than enough for most small businesses.

Thanks to those low costs, the return on investment for email marketing is off the charts. One study found that you can make up to $44 for each dollar spent on email marketing.

The hardest part of email marketing for contractors is just figuring out what to send your subscribers. After all, it’s easy to lose your subscribers if they think your emails are just taking up space.

Here are just a few tips to get you started:

  • Focus on providing value first, and selling them second. If you can keep your customers engaged, they’ll remember you when they need you.
  • Consider who your ideal customer is and write directly to them.
  • A few larger emails will perform better than a bunch of small ones. Try combining multiple topics into monthly newsletters.
  • Offer meaningful promotions. “$5 off your next drain cleaning” will make you look like a jackass, but a “$59 air conditioner tune-up special” could make your phone ring off the hook for a week.
  • Promote services that your customers may not even know you offer.
  • Push the boundaries of what you can include in your newsletter. Excerpts from your blog posts, news stories related to your industry, news from your community, and even the occasional recipe or Pinterest project are all fair game.

2. Turn Your Customers Into Facebook Followers

Marketing to your Facebook followers can be a lot easier than managing an email newsletter, though it can be a little harder to get the ball rolling. Here are a few places you can start:

  • Invite all of your Facebook friends to like your page. If your customers see that you already have a lot of Facebook followers, they assume there must be a good reason for it and are much more likely to follow you.
  • Embed a Facebook widget on your website so that visitors can see how many followers you have.
  • Use a Facebook Pixel to track visitors to your website and show ads to them directly.
  • Share posts from other businesses you love as your business. Sometimes they’ll show appreciation by sharing your content too, giving you the opportunity to reach an established audience.
  • Run contests that encourage engagement, like “caption this picture and you could win a $25 Starbucks card.” Anytime someone leaves a comment, your post will appear on their newsfeed too.

3. Get Reviews From Your Customers

It can be hard for contractors to get reviews from their customers, but that just makes the reviews you do get that much more valuable.

Believe it or not, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That means every time you get a new review you’ve just earned a personal recommendation that broadcasts in perpetuitity, making it way more valuable than a word-of-mouth recommendation. It also has the benefit of broadcasting to your reviewers’ own followers, which will  occasionally be a windfall for you.

Just be smart about how you get reviews. There are plenty of bad ways to try and get reviews.

4. Cross-Sell, don’t Up-Sell

Instead of trying to up-sell your customer on the current job, try going for a soft sell on other services.

One easy way to do this is to create flyers with coupons for services that aren’t time sensitive, like seasonal or annual tune-ups. Then just give them to your client with the invoice at the end of the job. Even if the margins aren’t great on the tune-up job, you might uncover necessary repair work. And besides, a customer who has two good experiences with you is much more likely to remember you and call you again for more work.

Cross-selling is especially worthwhile if you offer services from multiple trades—or several. If you offer air conditioning repair, mosquito misting, landscaping, and outdoor lighting design, don’t just assume that all of your customers know about all of your services. Focus on reselling to happy customers who have only called you for one service, since you’ve already earned their trust.

We Want to Hear Your Ideas

Do you have a favorite tip for getting more out of your current customers? Let us know in the comments!