SpeakEasy Podcast with Anthony Delmedico on how Contractors can increase their reviews, referrals and create raving fans through strategic gifting

Anthony Delmedico  (00:00):
So dude, did you have to get that from wrestling?

Eric Chandler  (00:04):
Yeah Man, 16 Years.

Anthony Delmedico  (00:04):
I was a boxer. Where'd your, where'd you wrestle?

Eric Chandler (00:08):
in Florida and then I went to a wrestling college in North Carolina. Yeah,

Anthony Delmedico  (00:12):
I was on the army boxing team. So just get hit in the face a lot. I Know wrestlers get those ears.

Eric Chandler (00:15):
Yeah. Yeah man. A lot of blood, sweat and tears and those ears. A lot of pride in those ears.

Storm Ventures Group - Speak Easy Podcast intro (00:24):
Started it from my basement as a contractor and eventually grew it to 18 States in 173 million in sales, boo-ya baby. Either the next guy's going to win the deal or you're not going to get the deal. The velocity of information through your company. We understand that like this is valuable stuff. I think the contractor should be talking directly to the carrier because they're doing the work, you know, brand new yourself as being an expert and you create your own following. It's the nightmare of being a small business owner. You just happened to have found this amazing Niche.

Anthony Delmedico  (01:07):
Are we live? Anthony Delmedico. SVG. We're here to live on the speakeasy. I just got back from the IRE show and that place was crazy. It was a 12,000 contractors in there. And we got Eric Chandler, Michael Athens with cutting edge gifts out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Who's out of Raleigh?

Eric Chandler (01:24):
I'm at Raleigh.

Anthony Delmedico  (01:25):
Okay. Raleigh in Denver, Colorado. And you guys are our joint joint venture cutting edge gifts. Now you guys were at the win the storm conference last year. Um, tell me a little bit about what, what uh, what you guys do and I mean I know but the audience here.

Eric Chandler (01:41):
Yeah. So basically, you know, we work with sales professionals in different businesses to get more online reviews, increase client retention and get referrals through gifting strategies and really just create a, a top mind awareness with every client so that they remember forever.

Anthony Delmedico  (01:56):
So I noticed you got Northwest Roofing on here and a knife sets. Is that when your clients?

Michael Athens (01:58):
Yup. Yup. We've been worked with them for a couple of years now. They use it to appreciate all their high value clients.

Anthony Delmedico  (02:04):
They do a lot of commercial. So for them, I'm sure they're sending us out when they finish a project or...

Michael Athens (02:08):
yeah, so they're doing it for clients. They're doing it for some of their referral partners. So they'll give it to some of their Realtors. They'll give it just to whoever they really want to appreciate. Sometimes at the end of the year, sometimes throughout the year, to really create a deeper connection. You know, more than just the surface level of, Hey, let's write up a contract. It's, Hey, we're going to be here forever. You know, let's get to know each other. Let's be part of each other's lives.

Anthony Delmedico  (02:30):
No, when I was, I was a sales guy in the industry and I was a contractor. We were just hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle. I retained customers or just emotional, probably presence. I never really did stuff like this. Never had time. And as a, as a, as a company owner, we played around with a little bit, but we never did it to the level that you guys are talking about. But I could see, especially today where you retention issues after guys signed deals. Some, sometimes another sales guy or some other company comes with a, you know, they're offering a deductible or they got a little bit better deal. And sometimes if you do a lot of, as a salesperson or a contracting company, you can lose the deal. This I see as you know, sending something like this right after certain steps in the sales process can help retain that client, create a little bit of emotional connection so that they are like, well, I don't want to leave these guys and just send me a nice knife set, a knife set or whatever, you know, whatever. The prizes, is that how it's working for you guys?

Michael Athens (03:18):
Yeah. So, um, there's this really wonderful book. I don't know if you've ever read it before called Never Lose A Customer Again. And it talks about these different stages in the life cycle of a client. You know, that it's before they know you. So when you first meet him. So when you start signing up, uh, and then when you first bring value to them and then ongoing in the life cycle. And then I think I might have missed one, but there's all these different phases and at those different times there's, there's a lot of times where they can break, where the relationship has that opportunity to break, especially between closing and bringing value like that buyer's remorse hits in every industry no matter what you do, hits really hard. And if you don't have a way to, whether it's a gift or whether it's, you know, sending them a video or sending them a thank you note or something to just be like, Hey, I'm so excited for what we decided was best for both of us. Like this is the right thing and you know, we're going to really perform for you.

Anthony Delmedico  (04:15):
Let me tell you, in our industry where, where the retention happens, see a sign, we've got those, it's called a service agreement or contingency agreement. The guy who goes out and next door does a great sales pitch and specs the property. They signed a deal, which is basically a commitment. These guys know what I'm talking about to do business together in the future. After the insurance company pays for the project. A lot of guys, sales guys cause they're green beans. They might get the deal signed and then the customer goes, looks online, sees a bad review, maybe three other guys knocked the door and they might have a 70% loss, maybe not 70% loss rate, but maybe they'll just 20-30% maybe 5% whatever. But it's still a lot of business. I could see something like this. So I like the kitchen idea cause it's all they see, they see the brand every day. It's a warm friendly environment, you know, so they're seeing the brand. But I could see that where, let's see, so when they signed the deal, maybe they get knife one. This is just an idea. When they get the adjustment bought and I'm now money's coming a big check. Sometimes people lose lose deals after their homeowner sees of properties that 50,000 or check too, but then now they get knife two. And then after they do the project actually enter into a build contract or actually finish the job, then they get knife three. So it's something, a step the gift process to really increase retention from those three steps.

Eric Chandler (05:25):
Yeah, that's definitely when we can do it. And the other thing that's probably left out most is everybody's thinking like, what should I give? Like I think a lot of people know that they should be doing something, but they're too busy. They don't have the time. Right. And so like a company like ours is that system in place that does it for them and then like the messaging behind it, right? So when you give us, it's not just like, Hey, I want to give you a knife. Thanks for the deal. It's like, Hey, I could've given you anything. I want to give you this Cutco knife because it's guaranteed forever and extremely high quality. Just like our service to you. We put your number on there. Yeah. Your roofer for life. Right. We put our number on that one.

Anthony Delmedico  (05:52):
I want to be your roofer for life!

Speaker 4 (05:54):
Yeah, exactly. And then, and then you can tier it out if you it to. Hey by the way like you know, you know we're looking forward to appreciating every step along the way. And the kind of like you could tie the idea that you did right where you give it at a closing and then every, every step along the way you're kind of giving it and then that tees up like referral programs and different things to get more online reviews.

Anthony Delmedico  (06:11):
Do you guys have like one of those knife holders? I got one at the house. She got like six or seven knives in it. Yup. How many knives are in there?

Michael Athens (06:17):
We can go as big as you want. So we have blocks that hold five knives. We have blocks that can hold up to like thirty.

Anthony Delmedico  (06:22):
I've got the million dollar idea for the guys watching this right now. Maybe you guys are already doing, put the, give him the base right and give him one knife after they signed the deal. And as it goes through the sales process now we add the referrals. So for every referral they send you that closes, they get the next knife, but they fill it up. They literally sit there and look at this empty half empty, you know, base give you the, give the guy referrals, you get another 10 referrals that way. The close.

Eric Chandler (06:46):
Yeah. I mean well we, we, we actually uh, we started doing that like a probably like four years ago. Started doing it. We've been doing that for awhile. I mean, it's a great idea. Right? So, actually we started doing it cause I had a client in Charleston, so we had like 2,500 Realtor clients for example. Right. And one of them was saying, Hey Eric, like I need to get a variety of gifts. And so he got like five different knives and he would call me and he was like, yeah, what I'm doing is basically every deal that I'm doing with them, every referral they're giving me, I'm helping build their set. And that's why he bought a bunch of block sets that were empty so these people have a block set, on their counter. So they want to fill it.

Anthony Delmedico  (07:21):
Who wants to look at an empty knife set? And so I was like, man, I'm gonna call one more client with this guy. I want that one, that big knife. You know, the big butcher.

Eric Chandler (07:26):
He would get customers and say, "Hey Mike, um, you know, I got somebody you want to meet and I was just wondering what's my next knife?" You know what I mean? And so they, it's something that they're excited about. They're building with you.

Anthony Delmedico  (07:36):
Its visible, used every day. You got your logo on it. That's pretty sharp dude. you can shave with that. That's sharp.

Michael Athens (07:40):
Yeah, careful there. One of my favorite phrases for that is, "Hey, we want to thank you so much for helping us build our business. So we want to help you build your forever set of knives." And it's just a great way where people will get so excited. You'll see people just like, like you said, I need to find more people cause I want the rest of this set. Every person's a sales rep for you. I love it.

Anthony Delmedico  (08:09):
So let's talk about what a, what about fulfillment? Cause a lot of guys are busy, they probably want to ship knives out. Do you guys handle that part of it?

Eric Chandler (08:14):
Yeah. So we've got 'em so I own the fulfillment center and so basically, you know, we would figure out, you know, we put the system in place, what is it that you're giving, what are we giving it? Right? And so it can be campaign tied on a schedule or it could be triggered as they need it. But it's a super simple submission form. Takes 30 seconds. The assistant in the office usually handles it. They submit it to us, we drop ship it directly to the client for them, with email notification so that they know when it's shipped and they know when it's delivered. And then, we always want to try and get the client calling in. Most people should be following up with their clients or if their clients are calling in, it's usually cause there's a problem. Hardly anybody ever calls you to say, Hey, great job or thank you. Right. So we wanna implement a gifting strategy that gets the client calling in, with gratitude, appreciation, leveraging that call to direct them to online reviews, build the relationship, get referrals

Anthony Delmedico  (08:58):
Online reviews. Guys will kill for positive online reviews. That's an so you could also step it up with maybe get the first knife after you signed the deal, become a customer. You get the second one when you do an online review, possibly maybe as little card, please do us a review. But most people actually won't take the time to do it. Send them some will if they like you, but people, then these days people are just ADD because there's so much clutter going on here.

Michael Athens (09:19):
Well, we found, um, so it was a Roofing 101, correct? That we did this with where they did like 300 cutting boards with us. And they weren't even doing it where it was "If you give us the review, we'll give you this." They were just sending a cutting board customized with the client's name Handcrafted for the Jones family kitchen has their branding on it, their logo on it, and it arrived 30 days after they finished the job with them. Had a handwritten thank you note that says, "Hey, thank you so much...give us a call...

Anthony Delmedico  (09:48):
Please give us a review?

Michael Athens (09:49):
No, no, not even that. Just give us a call so we know you got it and it's, "Hey Susie, you got it? Awesome. How does it look? Hey, we're trying to grow online presence. If we texted you a review form real quick, would you mind filling it out? Awesome. I just sent it to you. Did you get it? Great, thanks. And I don't know if you've ever heard of net promoter score. It's basically your nine and 10 star reviews minus your six and below star reviews. And we took it from 38% to 59% just on that program.

Anthony Delmedico  (10:17):
Was that Graham?

Michael Athens (10:18):
Yeah, he talked about it on your podcast .

Eric Chandler (10:22):
Honestly. Cause remember I was telling you, we've worked with just getting into the roofing industry primarily with Realtors.

Anthony Delmedico  (10:27):
Did you guys meet Graham at the win the storm conference?

Eric Chandler (10:29):
I met Graham at D2D con, and then we were in the same mastermind group for awhile.

Anthony Delmedico  (10:35):
Yeah. hes a good guy.

Eric Chandler (10:37):
No dude. Awesome guy. I was actually blown away by the results he got. He was like, yeah man, it's going super well. Like his clients would take time to literally write them handwritten cards and called and them with referrals. This is straight from Graham. I was like, he's like, yeah, look, I'll show you pictures. He showed me pictures. I'm like, Oh man. That's awesome. Yes,

Anthony Delmedico  (11:02):
I love it. Now let's talk about, um, so the referral, so you got the referral program and get some online reviews out of this. That's awesome. We can also retain the customer early in the sales process. You know what that, what that gifting strategy, what did you guys do? Any other kinds of guests besides names. And we have cutting boards, knives.

Eric Chandler (11:18):
Can we go veteran me cutting boards. We do drink ware.

Anthony Delmedico  (11:20):
Like coffee Mugs?

Eric Chandler (11:20):
Like Yeti tumblers type stuff. We've got Yeti coolers, wine boxes. We don't have a huge selection of products. You know what we try to find is this, when it comes to the physical item, it's like, is it high quality? Is it best in class, right? Is it gonna be used every day is going to be around for years.

Anthony Delmedico  (11:36):
See, I wouldn't have wanted it, if you would've came in and said talk to me about knives as a gift. I would have thought that was kind of corny. But the more we talk about it, you're right. They're using this every day. They see your brand. It's in the kitchen. You see it, you know, use it, see it every day. It stays in her face. Versus like a brownie or something. We used to do brownies. They eat it, they forget about it.

Eric Chandler (11:55):
It's not that its a bad thing right? If you, if you're doing something to appreciate your clients, I think it's a good thing. The thing is like who's thinking about like the longterm impact of it and thinking about it strategically, right? Like the brownies, the gift cards, the bottles of wine, the gift baskets, they're great, but they're gone.

Anthony Delmedico  (12:07):
They're gone.

Eric Chandler (12:07):
And so we want to give something that's going to be around 5, 10 years from now when that storm hits and they're still using that product you gave them and they're like, Oh man, look at this roof, right? Boom, going to give you a call. Right? 

Anthony Delmedico  (12:17):
I might use this for my referrals for us, for new SVG clients. And then maybe, maybe we'll do the base and a couple of knives when they sign up and when they review and next year they get the rest of the set or something. Listen, let's go put some together like that.

Michael Athens (12:31):
Yeah. I think for you, what would be good is do one of these and a pocket knife. So you get something for your clients, something for the wife, and now you're making her happy. She's not letting them stop working with you.

Anthony Delmedico  (12:42):
Well, that's what all new SVG University clients guys, not the last thousand.

Michael Athens (12:44):
Unless you send some referrals.

Anthony Delmedico  (12:47):
Or after you renew. We'll do a renewal. I like that. What's the pocket knife look like?

Michael Athens (12:51):
I didn't bring it with me with the flights. It's a nice, you know, three inch pocket knife. Same guarantee as the knife. So if you break it, melt it, chip it, crack it, anything, it's replaced for free. It's made by KA-BAR. I don't know if you're familiar with KA-BAR but, It's all the military knives, the big Rambo knife. Cutco makes all those for the military and we make the pocket knives in that section of our factory. So you can give him something that, yeah, no matter what they're doing on a roof, they break it to get it replaced for free.

Anthony Delmedico  (13:20):
That's a nice looking knife. Its as sharp as a razor blade too.

Eric Chandler (13:24):
And then our Wilmy Vet board, they're handmade by Veterans.

Anthony Delmedico  (13:25):
Do you guys do other industries, not just contractors. Now you guys came here to your first, first year was last year at Win The Storm, right? Um, how the show go for you?

Eric Chandler (13:33):
Its is our best show ever. That's when I was like, all right, like we need to dive in deeper with roofers.

Michael Athens (13:40):
Yeah. It was a lot of what are the knife people doing here? And then it was, Oh that's what the knife people are doing here.

Anthony Delmedico  (13:46):
Honestly, I don't remember seeing your booth. I mean that's a fog of war.

Michael Athens (13:49):
We also signed up like two weeks before, so we were in the corner. Yeah. So we're excited for this year.

Anthony Delmedico  (13:55):
You got a better spot?

Michael Athens (13:55):
Yeah. We signed up at the event last year for this year.

Anthony Delmedico  (14:00):
Best show you ever did?

Eric Chandler (14:01):
Best show yeah, I mean, cause you know, people walk by and they're like, wow. What do I need knives for, I don't need knives or cutting boards. And we're like, no, no, no, no, no. Like we're going to have to get more online reviews and more clients. You've got a couple of seconds, you know, and then I'll tell them about it and as I'm, as I'm telling them, the light bulbs are going off on that then. And then it's like, okay, well how do we, how do we actually integrate this? And then I show them how we actually integrate it as a streamlined process and they're like, "this could work."

Anthony Delmedico  (14:21):
You guys should do a breakout session.

Eric Chandler (14:23):
We are!

Anthony Delmedico  (14:24):
Okay, that's interesting. And I would have never thought that until we sat down and talked today, how you can create that kind of a retention strategy. and get some referrals.

Eric Chandler (14:33):
I mean we've got other, we've got other things too, like um, our campaign. So like you're talking about like from close to basically install or to the job.

Anthony Delmedico  (14:40):
Well, there's three. I think there's three points of retention. When I was doing this, the sales and stuff, you know, you signed a contingency agreement. A lot of people will lose a deal after that. Even before the adjustment. Not a lot, but 30% 20% still a lot. Sometimes owners don't even know what they're losing because a sales guys aren't showing them the paper anyways, so they don't even know what their retention is. Then after that insurance check comes, and these guys know what I'm talking about, 50,000 on our check, the half million dollar check.

Eric Chandler (15:03):
we're just going to keep that.

Anthony Delmedico  (15:07):
Well, you know, look at three other bids, right? Make some money, which they, which technically they can't, but they try to figure it out anyways. So, you see them lose some there too. Those are two key points you during the sales process for contractors, especially in the insurance restoration side. After the deal signed, the contingency which is a commitment to do business together in the future. And then when that first big check comes from the insurance company, they go, "my precious", the Gollum, my precious. They don't want to give up that check. So this would help a little bit on the emotional connection, which a lot of salespeople these days just don't take the time to create. I was one of them. I was hustle, hustle, hustle. But I created them a different, it was more of an expectation, you know, presence

Michael Athens (15:47):
Well and you know, this isn't going to... If you're not doing your job of doing that for them, it's not going to be a bandaid that's going to fix everything. But if you're doing that, this is what we'll take it from that next level of, yeah, maybe if you were doing well and you had 30% that were falling through, now it's only 10% are falling through.

Anthony Delmedico  (16:06):
Most of these sales people are 1099 in this industry. If someone were really good, they'd probably do some stuff like this themselves, but a lot of them don't. And the owner doesn't know where the fallout rate is. Sometimes on a contingency, there's a paper still sitting in a salesman's box. So if you stuck this as part of the process, and it happened regardless as a system, that retention,

Michael Athens (16:28):
And we can do it really easily where if it's the individual contributor, the individual sales person can do it for themselves. Or we can set it up with the company where the sales rep just, I'll just close that one. Let me click this button to let us know where the gifts need to go and we'll send it out. And then you just pull it right out of the commissions or bill them whatever they want. So we can do it really easily with individuals or the companies and make it super streamlined. Cause the biggest thing is these guys, they're hustling, right?

Anthony Delmedico  (16:54):
And what does a set like this go for?

Michael Athens (16:54):
This is our bigger one. This one's like 300. They start at like 40 bucks and we can fit anywhere in between that.

Anthony Delmedico  (17:01):
Can you do each knife individually?

Eric Chandler (17:05):
So the individual knives are gonna range depending on quantity. Someone $60 and $90 for the individual knives. Two piece sets are going to be anywhere from like $140 to $250. Three piece sets $250-300

Anthony Delmedico  (17:16):
That's decent. These are average residential contract size. These days is 15,000. So that's nothing, especially if you do the smaller knife sign the deal now and now they want to fill up the rest of the, you know, if it's got the [block]. Insurance check comes, pull your build contracts, retention. Project's finished, maybe you got the other holders, you know, you get an online review for another knife and get 10 referrals that close with me and I get the whole knife set. I want 3% off the top of that idea.

Eric Chandler (17:50):
There's also a lot of value in like a non negotiated gifting plan, right? Where it is truly surprise and delight where they're not expecting it. Right. Cause you meet the client's expectations like, "Hey, this is what you, you do this for us is what we're going to give you." You have a satisfied client. Right. And so satisfied clients just subject to use somebody else on their next deal, right. We want somebody who's a raving fan who when roofing comes up, they're not letting their friends use anybody else. But you. Right. And you do that by exceeding their expectations. So like that could be the initial like, Hey, this is our approach from start to close, but then like have a gift that goes out that's not negotiated. That is a surprise that they don't know about. And that's what gets that, Hey, like exceeding their expectations because they didn't know about it, didn't, they didn't expect it. Right.

Anthony Delmedico  (18:30):
I like the thought that six months later when they going gonna forget about you, no matter how cool you are, that that empty knife set sitting there staring Mrs. Smith in the face, and there's three holes left and she don't remember your name but she looks at it, sees your brand and she knows that she gives you three referrals. She gets to fill the next three knives. You know what I'm saying? Six months later, maybe a year later.

Eric Chandler (18:50):
We also have other, um, so this is maybe something you can shed some light on is like, you know, would it be valuable to touch base with all the deals you closed last year over the last five years before storm season. So we have these campaigns where we can go, Hey, like when a storm season, when does your clients need to be reminded of you? Now this is going to remind them every day, but, right. But how can you get another fresh reminder whether it's a handwritten card. And so we've got different strategies to send out a campaign so we can send something out right before Thanksgiving or right before storm season or right before whatever. So we work with the individual companies to figure out what their time.

Anthony Delmedico  (19:21):
It's really just a gift company. You're a customer retention company, you're a customer referral company and you're a a in this as well. This is a good part of it, but we'll do a little bit more than that. The fulfillment. You're doing some marketing,

Eric Chandler (19:33):
right? Well I think we're an appreciation company and all those things that you mentioned are a byproduct of what we do. Right? So we help people appreciate people strategically and then they ended up getting more referrals, more online reviews through the strategies that we implement. And then yes, we are, I guess a logistics company because we handle all the fulfillment, which is, that took a long time to figure out, but it works.

Anthony Delmedico  (19:51):
I like it. Well guys, you're, you're coming on. Uh, we're two weeks away. Yeah. 14 days or 14 days or 13 days. 13 days in a wake up in February 20th. So you guys, we have to win the storm conference and trade show right here in Phoenix, Arizona. Let's go sunny Scottsdale. You guys can climb Camel back mountain on Saturday or you gonna?

Eric Chandler (20:09):
I'm down.I fly out to the Dominican Republic on Sunday, so I'm going to do it.

Anthony Delmedico  (20:16):
We got drones flying up the top. all these guys are going to go, I don't call is not going to go. You get it up halfway. So you'll go halfway. They're going to be a drone streaming live and we got, we got a couple of fitness trainers out there in the rear in case somebody needs water. You know that kind of stuff. Got to bring water up there Saturday. So we're excited. Excited to have you guys back. Check out their booth guys Win The storm conference and trade show expo. See you there. Boo-ya baby. Let's go.