Focusing on client retention

October 17, 2016 -  By

borealteam-mountainsHow a Wyoming company builds a community among second-home clients.

Experts say attracting a new customer costs a company five times more than retaining an existing one. With this in mind, the owners of Boreal Property Management, a full-service property care company in Jackson, Wyo., have put an emphasis on client retention. By hosting an annual neighborhood cocktail party, the company has found a unique way to thank their existing clients—and also unexpectedly gain new business.

Kellie Wheeler, managing partner, first had the idea for the party almost eight years ago when she realized many of her clients didn’t know one another. Because of the nature of the Jackson Hole area, ranches are often spaced out and may even have bodies of water or rough terrain between them. It’s also a second-home market, so many homeowners are only there part of the year. As a result, most clients did not have an opportunity to easily connect with others in their community. Wheeler says she wanted to do something to change that.

Seven years ago Boreal Property Management hosted its first neighborhood cocktail party, and it was a big success.

“For many of our clients this is a second home, so a challenge was finding a time when everyone would be here,” Wheeler says. “The answer was Fourth of July weekend. Because we knew that people would have other plans that weekend, we made it a cocktail party with a drop-in feel. It’s very casual and clients are welcome to come and go—and also to bring their guests if they have friends in town.”

Every year the event has been hosted under a tent with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and light music from a hired musician. Wheeler says the party has not only been an opportunity for customers to meet one another but also to meet the full Boreal staff—allowing them to “put a name to a face” of someone they may have only talked to on the phone. In addition, Wheeler says they invite prospective clients to the party, allowing them to get “candid responses from neighbors” about the company’s services.

While the goal was to connect customers and create a sense of community, the party also has boosted sales, Wheeler says. As customers come together and talk about work they’ve had done, new project ideas are generated.

“One customer might be talking about their new outdoor kitchen, and it spurs someone else to think about that project,” Wheeler says. “That was an unexpected benefit for us.”
The company declined to share how much it invests to host the party, but Wheeler emphasized it’s also a time and planning investment. She starts planning the venue and caterer about a year in advance, but she says the benefits far outweigh any expense.

“Even if we didn’t generate those new leads on possible projects, it would still be worth it just for the feel-good, warm experience that it is,” Wheeler says. “It leaves our customers feeling appreciated—and that was our objective. Our clients are very thoughtful people, and we enjoy doing this for them.”

Photo: Boreal Property ManagementWheeler says there’s no doubt their customers enjoy it. This summer she began to wonder if the party had “run its course” and if customers were tired of attending. She inquired whether this year should be the last event. The feedback from customers was a resounding “no.”

“It was created for the clients, and I wanted to make sure it was something they still enjoyed,” Wheeler says. “From surveying them, it’s obvious they still do. I was told by many customers that it’s become something they look forward to each year. We have a high response rate. About 85 percent of those we invite do come.”

With a big event like this, Wheeler emphasizes the importance of planning ahead to secure a vendor and prevent financial burden.

“It’s not an unexpected expense,” Wheeler says. “It’s something we’ve planned for—and that helps make it successful.”

Photo: Boreal Property Management

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About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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