By Andrew Neitlich

The Tale of Two Service Providers

By Andrew Neitlich

Two service providers come every six months or so to help us out at home. One washes our windows. The other pressure cleans our pool deck. Both cost the same, and both do good work.

But I am loyal to one company for the window washing, and not loyal to the company for pressure cleaning. Sometimes I use different vendors for pressure cleaning, but I use the same vendor for window washing.

What’s the difference between the two?


Relationship marketing. The window washer calls me every six months and says, “It is time to wash your windows. And, since you are a loyal customer, we have a special price of 15% off for you. When should we come?”

The pressure washer never calls, even though we need pressure washing as often as window washing. And when I call the usual company, they tend to return calls slowly, and never seem to remember who I am. So often, I call other vendors to get my pool deck cleaned in time for company.

What’s this have to do with you?

Two things:

1. I hope you stay in close touch with your customers and follow up with them on a regular schedule with special offers, or to anticipate their ongoing needs.

2. The above tale is based on a famous Wall Street Journal direct marketing piece, one of the most famous and successful in the history of direct mail. Called “A Tale of Two Business Owners,” it explained that the only difference between two business owners was that one subscribed to the Journal and the other didn’t. Of course, the subscriber was way more successful in his business. The moral: Subscribe to the Journal! It’s a great approach in copy writing, and an approach many of my clients use in their marketing letters with great results.

  • You only have your windows washed every 6months? You must live in a very clean area or have very dirty windows after a month!

  • aneitlich

    Dean C:

    I love writing this blog, because I never know what readers will find interesting. Here I thought that this post provided some interesting marketing insights, and yet it seems that the cleanliness of my windows is what has caught your attention.

    We wash windows in 4 ways in our house:
    – My diligent wife
    – Myself (much less diligent)
    – A weekly cleaning service (somewhat diligent)
    – A 6 month incredible cleaning service that covers every window inside and out, as referenced in the post.

    Florida heat and humidity makes for very dirty windows, and so does a 3 year old. So you are correct about how dirty our windows get.

    I hope this help clarify the area of this blog that caught your attention, and that your marketing is as clean as my windows are today.

  • Don’t worry Andrew. I was humouring you. I find your blog posts insightful each time and am trully priviliged to be able to have the opportunity to read marketing advice from someone as successful as yourself. Keep up the good work ;)!

  • drakke

    Relationship marketing/sales is the current trend.

    Mostly because the potential sales over time is generally greater than the value of any initial sale. Plus it is cheaper/easier to market to current customers than try to aquire new ones which reduces your marketing costs.

  • Dr Livingston

    > You only have your windows washed every 6months?

    Sounds just about right to me? No need to over do it, is there… :)

  • Well if you over-wash your windows, you might run the risk of wearing them out. No sense taking that risk, I say (my wife might argue otherwise though!)

    Can you almost hear Andrew tearing his hair out at this point? ;)

  • Ryan Wray

    You could say the window cleaner has a [I]clear view[/I] of how to run a successful business. :P

    Sorry for that one!

  • pdxi

    Yes! This is the best thing to do, to show your customers that you care. It’s a practice that I employ, and it works wonders, both for my business and for customer satisfaction.

    Don’t just roll up to your client’s door and say, “Hey, got any work for me?” Spend time to analyze their business and suggest ideas to them. “Hey, I just realized that if you do (X), you can get (desired result). Are you interested in discussing this further?”

    I _love_ this method!

  • I used to edit a magazine and I got e-mails all the time from freelancers who wanted work. Some of them would literally say ‘do you have anything for me this month’ – most of the time I didn’t. The most successful freelancers were the ones who came to me with a feature idea, or better still an interview already in the bag with a very fast turn around. The successful marketeers are the ones that virtually do the work for you! They make it as easy as possible to say yes – do you agree?

    btw. I clean my windows about twice a month, but only the ones I can reach – the rest stay dirty!

  • hdsol

    I am supposed to clean my windows????? I never look out of them anyway since I got hooked on the net.

  • You only have your windows washed every 6months?

    I only wash mine every coupla years.

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