The value of strong client relationships is immeasurable for any business, but particularly in the retrofit industry. Most of our clients have limited budgets to spend each year on retrofit projects, and so our business thrives when we’re asked back year after year.
How do we get invited back? By making our client champions look good.
As the CEO of Hemma Lighting Solutions, every time we take on a new lighting retrofit client, I remind myself that someone else’s job is riding on how well my team and I live up to the promises we made.
This means we complete our work smoothly and on time, with minimal disruption. It also means we make our client contact look like a good decision-maker, that the budget they were allotted to invest in energy efficiency results in annual savings that generate a positive ROI.
I think it’s crucial to start strong with new clients. How we set the tone at the beginning of a new relationship can mean the difference between a one-off project and years of recurring revenue – not to mention referrals.
So, how can you help your client look like a hero? Here are a few of the things we focus on at Hemma Lighting Solutions.
Start Thinking About Supply Early
As soon as your client finalizes a purchase order, typically they want you to begin installing products ASAP. Unfortunately, it can take three to even eight weeks to order and receive the product you’ll need.
It’s essential to set these expectations early with your clients, so they understand that retrofitting projects may take a bit of time to get off the ground as you wait for lighting manufacturers to deliver materials.
Manufacturers work on their own schedule and do not usually stock large amounts of material. You can avoid disappointing your clients by forecasting your needs and communicating with your suppliers well in advance of starting a project. This has helped us at Hemma deliver lead times that are much shorter than some of our competitors.
We’ve found that the SnapCount lighting audit software is a great tool that helps us predict our material needs and streamline the procurement process by translating our audit data directly into purchase orders.
Present Professionally and Respect Your Clients’ Standards
Whether you outsource your retrofit labor or employ an in-house team, whoever shows up at a worksite on behalf of your company represents your company. Clients want to see professionalism, which may mean uniforms, good behavior, and a clear leadership presence.
Keep in mind that, unlike an HVAC project, lighting retrofits typically cover every square foot of a facility – from the CEO’s office to the breakroom to the warehouse floor. Your labor force must understand how to professionally represent your business in areas where others might be trying to get work done or at the very least expect certain standards.
At Hemma, we try to work a third-shift schedule as much as possible to minimize disruption to our clients’ operations. Even then, our clients often want to know who will be working in their buildings. In schools, for example, we’re sometimes asked to perform background and fingerprint checks on our workers – which is understandable, considering that school administrators answer to parents, and that the safety of children may be on the line.
Professionalism at the worksite comes down to hiring people you trust, training them properly, and verifying they’re upholding their side of the deal through frequent communication.
We make site visits when we can, but it’s not always feasible. SnapCount helps us keep in touch with our labor force wherever they are. Each night, our teams fill in the work they completed, room by room. By the next morning, our operations personnel are up to date before our clients arrive at work.
Demonstrate Your Value With Data
At the end of the day, retrofit clients are focused on two main goals:
- Better lighting.
- The savings you promised.
Don’t leave it up to your clients’ judgment whether a project achieved these two goals. Hard numbers speak louder and more reliably.
Before undertaking a retrofitting project, we put a lot of time and effort into collecting data and taking measurements on a client’s existing load and light levels. When the work is complete, we can then use this data as a benchmark to prove we accomplished the results we promised. With good data, there’s no mystery or subjective judgment about whether the lighting has improved or money has been saved.
Again, lighting audit software can help you stay organized. Tools like SnapCount allow auditors to collect, store, and access data more efficiently and in much greater detail than handwritten notes and spreadsheets.
The lighting retrofit business is like any other. Success comes from making realistic promises to your clients and staying true to your word.
Complications can arise, deliveries can be late, and workers can slack off – but clients don’t want to hear excuses. I’ve found that by putting in the hard work upfront – by planning, communicating, and choosing the right tools – you can head off most problems before the client even notices. That’s how you maintain excellent client relationships, and that’s how you get asked back to do more.
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