If you're running a lawn care business, you're probably familiar with recurring work. You set a customer up on a regular visit/plan—doing the job weekly, biweekly, or monthly—and bill them accordingly. If your business is any other type of service business, you should be familiar with and thinking about how to create recurring work. More importantly, if you want a steady income you can depend on, regularly recurring jobs are the simplest way to go for most businesses.
We've talked to a number of service companies throughout the past year, and gathered some ideas from them to help kickstart your own thinking on putting recurring jobs to work for your business. We also cover the various benefits you'll have at your fingertips as you create a stable income from repeat work.
Why repeat work matters
There are all kinds of benefits that come along with establishing repeat work as the foundation of your service business.
Recurring work has two key benefits. The biggest and most obvious one is steady income from steady jobs. The other is the freedom to only work with customers you like.
A window cleaner who signs up a business that needed its windows cleaned once a month. A cleaner who sets up biweekly cleanings for her customers. A wildlife control specialist who makes regular check-ups on traps.
What do they all have in common?
Repeat jobs that keep regular payments coming in. Every repeat job is a payment that didn't require finding a new customer, creating estimates, doing inspections, or spending any extra effort getting that work.
Keep the good customers, dump the bad ones
Stable, recurring income from repeat jobs gives you the ability to fire customers you'd rather not work with. Typically, with service work that isn't recurring, you're constantly dealing with new customers. Some of them will be great, while others will be problematic and a real pain. Some will pay on time, and others might never pay at all. And you have to deal with all of it because you need the work—because you need the income. There's good and bad, but you don't really have a ton of control because you're likely only to work for them the one time. With recurring customers, you can simply stop working for the ones that you have issues with.
Where to find recurring revenue
Some industries rely almost entirely on recurring revenue, others require a little bit of looking to find the opportunities. Take an afternoon, sit down with a cup of coffee or a cold drink and consider a few of these ideas to see if you can find some recurring revenue ideas that might work for your small business.
If you can schedule recurring work weekly or monthly, you get the added benefit of something we call "neighbor marketing". It's the result of a neighbor (residential or business) repeatedly seeing your presence—could be your car or truck parked outside the customer's house, you mowing the lawn, spraying for pests, carrying out garbage, whatever. There's an automatic bit of marketing happening here just by making the neighborhood aware you're available for services. Be friendly and wave or smile when you see others about—if you don't seem friendly and inviting, someone won't come up to you to ask you to do work for them.
How can you make it work for you even more?
If you're a landscaper or a cleaner, you can easily walk over to a neighbor's door and ask if they'd like their yard or home to look as good as their neighbor's. You could say you offer a neighborhood discount, since you're in the same location on the same day. You could print up some marketing postcards or flyers and drop them in mailboxes. Look for ways to "take over" the neighborhood.
If you're a trades professional or installer of some type—HVAC, plumber, hot tub/spa installer, etc.—try offering a maintenance plan on any equipment installed. Replacing filters or flushing hot water heaters, or anything you can offer that gives your customer a little added peace of mind and assurance gives you repeat work and recurring revenue. Maintenance plans work great as monthly, quarterly, or yearly offers.
A common recurring service that roofers offer is gutter cleaning. It's an easy sell too—your customer is definitely interested in keeping their new roof new, and protecting the facia and soffit from water damage. If you're a handyman and you've done some painting, you could offer some quarterly or annual pressure washing to keep the paint job looking great. Depnding on the type of cleaning work you're offering, there is a ton of opportunity to turn it into repeat work that brings in regular income.
Warranties are great, and most customers would love warrantied work. If you're offering warranties on your work already, offering an extended warranty is a great way to get some recurring revenue. If you're not offering warranties yet, now may be a good time to start.
A few of our wildlife control customers have gotten great results with warranties. For example, they'll complete an exclusion job to keep unwanted critters out of a house, then offer a short warranty period to guarantee their work. The problem is, critters will usually find or make a new hole, so simply offering a paid extended warranty covers both the customer and the business. Give your extended warranty customers priority when a call comes in—since the original job is already done, you'll usually have minimal time tied up in any new work that has to be done to honor the warranty. Best of all, your customer will be happy and might tell others about your work.
How to keep up with the work and the billing
Recurring work isn't without recurring problems. If you struggle to keep up with your one-off appointments already, it'll be compounded when those jobs repeat on a regular schedule. If you struggle with invoicing customers, it can be easy to remember to do the work, but you might forget to send the invoice. If you're using WorkWeek to run your business, you won't have to struggle with either of them. Repeat job reminders are automatically setup, and you can schedule recurring events and appoinments easily. If you've setup a recurring job, it automatically gets duplicated, invoiced, and your customers can pay online with a few clicks.
If you're running a service business and have found interesting ways to get recurring work, we'd love to hear about them and offer them to other professionals out there who could benefit from what you've learned. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!