As a manufacturer, it makes sense to develop great relationships with local contractors. It’s essential for solidifying your brand presence and reaching more customers.
That said, how can you bring more contractors into your fold, predictably and efficiently? The answer is a strong loyalty program.
A study by Principia Consulting showed that only 46% of window and door professionals, 45% of roofing installers, 56% of trim and molding pros, and 61% of decking pros are in manufacturer-run loyalty programs. As far as the pros in the program, they spent most of their budget for work-related products with the manufacturer courting them.
That means that many of the contractors who might be major advocates for your products aren’t in any customer loyalty program at all — giving you a huge opportunity to reel them in before your competitors do.
Want more contractors in your corner, along with a larger local market presence? Follow these 7 tips for creating contractor loyalty programs that earn more sales and reinforce brands:
1. Start a High-Quality Contractor Training Process
One of the best ways to have contractors look to you as an authority, and thus remain loyal to you as a supplier, is to create your own best-in-class training program for them.
That means you should teach them all about your products: how to use them, how they’re made, the best use cases, and all relevant installation, repair, and maintenance info.
The idea is to have your contractors become the experts on your product lines, which will carry over into customer interactions and service fulfillment. In the end, it will reflect back on your brand in a very positive light.
Be sure to deliver training materials in a form that’s convenient for your contractors, such as through a mobile-friendly digital platform that busy contractors can use at their convenience. It’s also good to have an in-person instructional component whenever possible, as direct interaction creates a more personalized learning experience.
Set benchmarks and requirements, utilize tests, and give certificates of completion to recognize those who complete the program. Allow questions and source feedback, so you can continuously refine the training and serve your contractor needs to the highest degree.
Do all the above, and your training program will be better than anything your competitors can hope to stand up!
2. Build Meaningful Relationships
According to a 2018 HubSpot study, 81% of consumers trust advice from friends and family over advice from a company.
To have any hope of building that level of trust in your business, you’ll have to forge one-to-one relationships in which each party cares about the other’s success. This absolutely applies to the best contractor loyalty programs.
Make sure you’re supporting local pros on a deep level. Re-engineer your business operations to make it happen, if necessary. It might mean hiring extra sales reps to assign to contractors, depending on the density of your external network and internal personnel. Regular check-ins between your reps and contractors should be part of the picture.
Whatever the case may be, your contractors should feel you understand the work they do, their challenges, their needs, and their frustrations. Always be ready to furnish product information, advise on project success, field questions, and resolve problems as quickly as possible.
By forging these kinds of bonds with your contractors, you’re proving you care about them beyond what they can do for you.
3. Make Your Website a Key Resource
Contractors are regular people living in a modern world…which means they use the internet to gather info and get answers, just like anybody else. Your website content can be the source they go to.
In a survey by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 70% of marketers say that content marketing helps to educate the audience, and 60% say that it helps build loyalty with existing customers. That’s plain and simple evidence that your contractor loyalty program should include the sharing of helpful, targeted web content.
Have a section on your corporate website that speaks directly to contractors and has industry-relevant content just for them. It should include in-depth articles, industry news, videos, and other resources that will help local pros build their business while using your products.
As an alternative, you can create a private “mini-site” and host it on a subdomain of your existing URL. You can make it an exclusive outlet where contractors can interact with your brand, post comments, and network with each other.
You can even feature user-generated content from contractors themselves, or interview them to create a regular podcast. It could all be great for your SEO, as contractors who are looking to network and learn online enter relevant search terms in Google.
If you’re a maker of electrical tools for example, the mini-site you build for electrical contractors might have articles and videos on optimizing field service, revising safety protocols, and lowering costs — all of which you can tie into your products, directly or indirectly.
Whether you devote a portion of your existing site to contractors or create a separate one for them, you should strive to create a best-in-class resource in your niche. Take it a step further by including helpful digital resources such as brochures, marketing videos, and sales advice that will help pros expand their businesses.
4. Use a Contractor Locator That Generates Leads
As we’ve already suggested, the best way to show contractors your brand cares is to send them new business. You can do that by using locator technology on your website.
As thousands of manufacturers can attest, Bullseye is the software of choice when it comes to contractor locators.
Here’s how it works. Prospective customers who like your brand come to your site, look for pros that use your products, and find your Bullseye-built locator page that lists local contractors they can contact to get the job done.
At the same time, prospects can submit online inquiries to local contractors by filling out a form. Those prospects instantly become valuable leads for contractors to follow up with.
By sending your contractors leads using Bullseye, you’ve become more than just another supplier. You’re a partner who’s helping them build more customer relationships, raise their own profile locally, and make more sales.
As small business owners, they will appreciate this. They’ll also be more likely to remain users and promoters of your products.
5. Reward and Highlight Contractors That Sell More
How can you extend yourself even more as an ally to your contractors?
Reward them when their performance warrants it. When certain pros boost your product sales in a big way, that’s something that deserves recognition.
One way to do this is to promote the work they do on your website and social media outlets. Reach out to satisfied customers to ask for video testimonials. With a capable videographer on hand, ask them to talk about the contractor who used your products, and share the resulting video online.
Make sure to highlight the contractor and how customers can get in touch. That can be a huge boost to a local pro’s credibility.
Another way to do this is to create a “certified” or “preferred” contractor program, where you highlight particular pros as the first option local customers should consider.
Hint: You can do this very effectively with Bullseye. Bullseye locator pages let you feature the best dealers right at the top, complete with any attractive credentials and specializations. The platform also shows you which contractors are driving the highest ROI, enabling you to make smarter decisions on who to feature.
Finally, you can reward your high performers with personalized incentives like vacation prizes and tickets to special events.
Whatever form it takes, letting the best professionals in your network know you see and appreciate their performance on your brand’s behalf is a winning strategy.
6. Get Your Dealers Involved
There’s another important party to your business relationships as a manufacturer…your dealers. They should be involved in contractor loyalty programs as well.
Why? Your connections with dealers can actually strengthen the bond with local contractors. Both parties are “on the ground” where your corporate presence might not be.
By teaming up with dealers, you can offer bulk discounts. You can even make it easy for contractors to get more work through in-store promotional events and instructional classes for consumers.
This is a great way to reinforce relationships with both your retail partners and the pros who buy your materials from them. You’ll be acting as the “matchmaker” in strategic local alliances, making it a win-win for your brand and partners who serve customers face-to-face.
7. Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
All of the elements mentioned before are important in great contractor loyalty programs. That said, the only way to know if it’s all working is to track the results.
According to Think with Google, 95% of leading markers agree that “to truly matter, marketing analytics KPIs must be tied to broader business goals.” Similarly, the KPIs for your contractor loyalty initiative should be connected with important business success targets.
You’ll want to know how your contractor loyalty initiatives are performing in several key areas. Contractor retention, sales/ROI, training completions, customer lifetime value, and engagement are a few big ones to keep an eye on.
Assessing these things will give you a picture of how effective your program is, along with hints on what you can change or optimize.
For example, if sales attributed to your contractor loyalty efforts are low, you can ask a few smart questions: Do contractors need to understand our products better? Are they using effective sales techniques, and should we build that into our training?
Similarly, for engagement, you can ask: Are our reps making regular contact with contractors? Do our contractors feel we’re helping them meet their business objectives, based on the feedback they’re giving us?
Continuous evaluations and feedback are the only way to improve and get more contractors on your side.
Not to mention, it’s the only way to determine whether you’ll see a return on investment for your efforts — or whether your program as it’s being implemented is costing you more than it’s worth.
The Best Contractor Loyalty Programs Use These Tips For More Sales and Larger Market Share
Now that you know the most important elements of contractor loyalty programs, it’s time to act.
Do what it takes to show local pros they matter to you. Provide them the training, business support, and incentives they need to feel cared for by your brand.
Of course, there’s no match for actually sending them new business. This is where the Bullseye Locations software comes in.
You can be confident in using Bullseye as a centerpiece of your contractor loyalty strategy because it can reliably send new leads to local professionals. They’ll see the instant value in remaining connected to your brand.
You’ll be able to forge a bond that won’t be broken easily.
It’s great news for your reach as a manufacturer.
If you’re ready to implement a winning contractor loyalty strategy, and you’re curious about how Bullseye can support it, get in touch today for a free assessment of your current locator solution.