The Benefits of Customer Profiling

Catering to specific clients.

Not all buyers are the same. Our own shop’s clients vary greatly. So greatly, in fact, that it’s worth taking a look to see just where these differences come into play – in order to see how they should be sold to, what they should be sold, what they should be charged, and how their expectations should be handled.

Of course, it’s no secret that knowing your customer is an advantage. It’s similar to the advantage you gain by knowing who you’re playing against in poker. Knowing the particular style, the habits, and the tendencies of your opponent in poker can make a huge difference. If you find yourself in a situation where your experience playing against this opponent gives you insight on what their next move might be, you can capitalize on this by altering your play.

The same strategy holds true when it comes to knowing your client and/or client type. Yes, I’m talking about stereotyping or profiling. Let’s take a look at four different types of customers who purchase vehicle wraps – entrepreneurs, very large clients, motorsport clients, and service fleets – and discuss insights that might help you with each type.

The entrepreneur
Most of you should be able to relate to this type of customer. At bluemedia, we find that these customers feel the purchase is more personal, because they will be paying for the wrap “out of their own pocket.” They may be very cost conscious, especially if they are a start up or they’re buying this wrap with their last marketing dollar.

But make sure you don’t confuse this buyer with the entrepreneur who is wildly successful with low overhead, high revenues, and great profitability. How do you find out? Very simple -- what type of vehicle are you wrapping for them? An H1 that matches their boat? Or a 1999 Chevy Express van that currently has door magnets? Is this their only vehicle, or do they have eight others previously wrapped?

Go to their website. Do they have a great product with good market share or a crazy idea that you think might not even work at all? Respect your ability to develop some type of an opinion on who you’re dealing with, and then tweak your responses to fit that opinion. When I say “responses” in this context, I’m referring to every interaction you have with that client. The price point you choose is a response; the design you propose is a response; the way you speak to that client is a response; and so on. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll do well on the most important thing you’re graded on: your response.

The game changer
So you have an opportunity with a huge client – it’s time to consider a few things. I like to begin with: Why are they coming to us? Are they coming to us because we’re the only option within 200 miles of the need? Are they coming to us as a referral from someone we did a great job for? Did we cold-call them into submission and they are only giving us this opportunity to stop the voicemails? Or did they reach out to us as the best solution for their need based on their own research of available options?

It’s extremely important to ask yourself these questions and form an opinion about why they’re in communication with your shop. The answer to this question should help you in tailoring your response to overcome any objections specific to this particular opportunity.

For example, if you are indeed their only option based on location or other factors, you might be able to charge a small premium – like the gas station that sits in the middle of nowhere. And if this is an opportunity based on their research, you might discount slightly to ensure you would be competitive on a large quantity.

Either way, when it comes to large clients you always need to keep in mind that your proposal is going to land on the same desk as multi-million dollar proposals. So spend the effort. Make sure it presents well and that there are zero mistakes. This type of client can be a game changer for your company, so respect these opportunities without leaving any money on the table.

High octane
Motorsports clients, one of my personal favorites, present very intriguing opportunities. Granted, they’re not always profitable or favorable, but they’re definitely cool. I’ll admit that I’ve sometimes been guilty of pricing a job to the point where it wasn’t profitable just because I wanted that vehicle in our portfolio. And these projects can help you land profitable ones – plus it provides bragging rights.

Motorsports clients run the gamut in our shop; we service every type of vehicle and customer – from Formula 1 to the client whose 8-year-old son races go carts. You have to be mindful of these differences. There are good budgets for race haulers with huge sponsors, but the same is not necessarily true for the local guy with a dirt-track car. Think about where the money is coming from.

Speaking of money, make sure you’re firm on whatever terms you award. For instance, if you require a deposit, don’t start work without it. I’m not saying that motorsports clients don’t pay their bills, but many times you’ll be dealing with someone who’s far removed from the person who does pay the bills. The truck driver is not always the best communicator to the accounts-payable office that’s located 14 states away. So be clear and steadfast in your expectations for payment, and handle those details with the correct person in advance so there are no surprises for you or the client. Delaying the race team over some type of payment miscommunication will ensure you never get that job again.

Tip: Many times these motorsports projects are very short on turn-around time because, to these clients, the “decals” are not as important as getting the car “race ready” – tweaking the motor and suspension etc. We often get two days or less to complete these projects due to last-minute sponsor deals getting signed or the ridiculously tight testing schedule of the vehicle. The more accommodating you can be to their needs, the better chance you have at really hitting if off with motorsports clients. Know their race schedule, their team, the driver of the car, and the truck. This type of client feels much more comfortable having their work done with someone who understands their world. So get up to speed and tailor your approach for a custom fit.

Service fleets
With service fleets, it’s all business. These clients have a schedule to keep. They need their vans back on the road as soon as possible and cannot put up with delays. The price point needs to be sharp and the communication must be constant and proactive. If you’re reading this and saying, “This is true for all client types,” you are correct – but you’re missing the point. The game here is to understand the differences, even minute differences, in how common attributes rank differently in order of importance to different buyer types. For a client that has eight HVAC service trucks, it’s extremely important to convey confidence and deliver as promised because this client has set up six service calls for its trucks, all starting the morning after you said it would be ready. So I suggest you call that client at 3 p.m. on the day of the install and let them know everything is on schedule as promised.

We also take special care to immediately inspect these vehicles when they arrive, looking for any item that needs to be addressed. These items include: the correct unit number was delivered; pre-existing damage that needs to be noted; the correct year, make and model as quoted and produced; external surprises such as ladder racks, vents, or equipment not disclosed or accounted for. If any of these items exist, they should get addressed very early in the day so the fleet manager can take appropriate actions. Be proactive and help them keep their fleet working. Ask when the next appointment is. Get each driver’s phone numbers and a backup number. Ask about DOT graphic requirements. Know this client and their schedule and, in return, they will know you as a great solutions provider for them.

The most important single lesson here is to put yourself in their shoes. Try to envision what their office looks like. Think about what else they have to do today. What else are they responsible for? If you were them, what would you be concerned about and in what order? See the deal from their view. If you know they have been burned on inferior materials in the past, send the warranty document with your quote. If you know they’re spending their last dollar on this marketing effort, send stats on the ROI of the vehicle-wrap medium. If you suspect that your buyer is extremely busy, stress how your team will own this project to completion and ask how they’d like to receive progress updates.

Don’t be their partner
The concept of customer profiling is very easy to master and can return huge results. Study your clients. If you worry about their concerns while staying steadfast to your sound business model, your concerns will be solved. Don’t be their partner. Instead, be their expert and be available to serve. True experts not only know their own business, but they understand the differences in their clients and they provide specific solutions that address those differences in a manner that capitalizes.

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