Marketing Your Pool Business with Word of Mouth: Tips from Industry Experts
You can easily get into the deep end when you start marketing your pool business. Instead of chasing trends or expensive fads, focus your energy on the most important strategy in your industry: word of mouth marketing.
This suggestion might seem like a cop-out, but it’s not. Numerous experts who own businesses in the pool industry recommend focusing on word of mouth marketing over anything else they’ve tried.
“The best thing to do is just word of mouth. We’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Randy Mahler, President of Oceanview Pools LLC says. Randy goes so far as to say that other marketing strategies like newspaper ads and directory listings “don’t work.”
Brittanie West, Office Manager of A Clear Choice Pool and Spa Services Inc. tells us that “it’s really word of mouth” that helped her business grow to where it is today.
So how can you master word of mouth in your city to become the top pool service and maintenance business?
There are three crucial steps to make this strategy work: what you do before, during, and after you service a prospect.
Let’s cover that below.
1. Before you service a client: customer service and building local awareness
The first step to your master marketing plan seems like a baby step, but it’s a big responsibility. It’s fundamental to growing by word of mouth.
If you’re going to be the pool service company in town, then you have to act like it. That all starts with your customer service strategy. Why? Because your growth is solely dependent on what people say about you.
If you can’t deliver, then you’ll develop a bad reputation that will negatively affect your growth.
Give awesome customer service so that your customers are happy and will refer you to their friends and other people looking for your business. You just go above and beyond what is required, so that you meet or exceed their expectations.
Before you start servicing your clients, you should brainstorm all the ways you can deliver great customer service. If you’ve already started servicing clients, then you should start doing everything you can to provide great service.
Here are some ideas:
- Spend time getting to know your clients on a personal level when you see them, or when you first meet them. If you have a hard time remembering what was said, take notes on your client when you get in your truck. If they mentioned a favourite sport team or weekend getaway, bring that up next time to show you were listening. (link to CRM over ‘take notes’ part?).
- Start off on the right foot by telling your clients exactly what they should expect from you.
- Tell your clients when they should expect you, and show up to appointments on time.
- Notify your customers when you’re coming by sending them a text right before you arrive.
- Tell your clients who will be servicing their pool that day.
- Say hello and chat with your clients if you see they are home.
- Say goodbye or send them a text when you head out.
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- Offer them a loyalty program (e.g. offer a 10th cleaning free) to show them you value their business.
- Send your clients an email explaining what you did during a service and why.
- Show them the value you bring by sending them before and after photos of the service.
- Educate them about the chemicals and products you use and why you use them.
- Dress professionally when you’re in the field.
- Connect them to other professionals in your network if they need extra help.
- Give them a quality guarantee on your services to show them how confident you truly are.
Create a standard action plan for each client your service and follow through with each step to ensure consistent customer service.
If you’re just starting your pool business and need to gather some new clients, you can start with the following basic marketing tactics to help you build your book of business.
Make pool service marketing materials
Marketing materials are extremely important for getting eyes on your business. Although you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars on marketing materials by hiring agencies and designers, you should invest a solid amount of time in creating them.
This can be a low budget marketing effort and you can do it yourself. There are lots of branding and design websites that you can use to create your own marketing materials, like Canva, MOO, Vistaprint, or Customink (for uniforms). Of course, you can always go local and hire a print and design shop to do this step for you.
You’re going to want to create some materials that you can hand out to clients. Consider making some pieces they can keep for future reference (like pump stickers, for example). Make sure you include your company name, logo, contact information, and services offered on your marketing materials.
What to include in swimming pool business cards
When it comes to making business cards for your pool service business don’t go overboard. Keep them clean and simple with your business name, logo, name, address, phone number, website, email, and social media handles. This gives prospects the opportunity to see your portfolio and client reviews on your website or social accounts.
Go door knocking
Once you have your marketing materials you should start networking. Pick some neighbourhoods, park your car, and start door knocking. Building relationships and introducing yourself is a great way to build your business from the ground up. When you meet prospects in person you’re able to connect, share what your value add is, offer a compelling incentive to get them on board, and tell them what you will do for them if they hire you.
Once you seal the deal you can start showing them what you’re made of and begin building your customer service reputation. You have to follow through, listen to their feedback, and do your job well for word of mouth marketing to start working.
By making sure that you're doing your job, you're being a person of your word. It's really important that you say what you're going to do and you do it, and make sure that you're following up with the customers and things like that. They're being heard—that's the biggest thing.
2. During your services: offer incentives and market them to the neighbourhood
Once you’ve built a book of business (even if it’s small) you can start word of mouth marketing. This can happen organically, but in most cases, you’ll need to put in an effort to push it along. That requires a bit of strategy.
Judy Saxton, Office Manager at A+ Pool Install explains it best. She says, “focus on neighbors of current customers that you already have because then you’re keeping your route tight, you’re not driving all over the place. We have a referral program for our clients. So if they refer their friends and neighbors that are close in vicinity then we give them a month free.”
How to make a pool service referral program:
- Decide what you can offer your clients based on your bottom line. For example, you might want to offer one free month to your clients when they refer your to their friends, and their friends book a service. However, this means that you would work for free for at least one month for one client. Can you afford that? Or, perhaps you want to offer your clients free chemical treatments when they refer two friends who sign on. Will this be affordable? Ask yourself some critical questions before offering referral incentives.
- Design a way to track new referrals and when they activate for each client. It’s a bad idea to start offering referrals if you can’t track who should receive the offer and when it activates. The best solution for this is either tracking it manually, or using a CRM that automatically tracks referral discounts within each invoice for you.
- Start offering your referral program to your clients. Make sure you document which clients receive their referrals and when.
- Try going a step further and offering new clients a bonus or incentive for signing on.
- Keep up your momentum by putting up advertisement flyers around town. You can also try putting up a sandwich board on your truck while you’re at a job site that offers passersby hot deals.
3. After your services: remind clients about referrals and seasonal services
You’ve got your clients going with great referral incentives, but don’t stop there. You need to keep up the momentum to remain in the public eye as the seasons change.
- Use appointments as an opportunity to remind your clients about referral incentives. For example, send a text:
- “Hi Jamie, just letting you know that we unclogged the skimmer. We’re also offering friends and family 25% off their next service. Tell your friends!”
- Everyone loves a good deal. Reward your loyal customers with them! They’re your biggest advocates and fans, so say “thanks” by offering a free service for every 10th cleaning, for example. Word will travel fast.
- Ask your clients to review your company when you send them an invoice. You can easily gather customer sentiment and feedback. This will give you a peek into how you’re performing, which will help you improve your service. You can reach out to satisfied customers and ask them for a review on your favourite review platform. Or, you can include a link to your favourite review platform right in your invoice email.
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- Keep track of your clients from season to season so you can call them about service reminders and packages you’re offering.
- Hit new neighbourhoods with promotional pamphlets every few weeks or continue to go door knocking each month or with each new season.
- Collect client testimonials and put them on your website, promotional pamphlets, and social media profiles so you can show off some social proof.
Whatever you choose to do to grow your pool business, never forget the power of word of mouth. In order to make it work for you, and not against you, you must focus on customer service. If you’re trying to work on your customer service game, then check out some more tips on how to use customer service to grow your pool business here.