Sunday, November 7, 2010

Retention - Part II

Retention is a VITAL part of your business. Bringing in $100K of sales each year just to see $100K of churn go out the backdoor means you are just standing still.  Actually with payroll increasing, rent increasing and insurance cost increasing if you making the same amount as last year, you are technically losing money!  This is one of the biggest reasons retention is so important to your business.

In my last blog I discussed the first step of setting up a Retention Program for your company.  The first step is: Know your Carrier's Policies.  Step 2  is the cumbersome part, you need to find out exactly when all your customers are coming up for renewal. Believe it or not, this may not be as easy as you think.  Once again, every carrier has their own policy on when the clock starts ticking for the contract termination.  ACC starts the clock within a few days of a circuit being installed, other carriers wait till the circuit is turned up.  Example: a circuit gets installed on 9/1/2010 under a 2 year term, is turned up on 11/1/2010.  If the circuit is on ACC the contract term date will be 8/2012.  On another carrier the contract term date will be 10/2012.  Knowing the carriers policy is important.

Okay so now you know the policy on how each Carrier views the start of the customer contract.  The obvious next part is the tedious task of going through all your existing customers to find out their exact contract termination date.  For MicroCorp Agents this is not difficult because we actually have that information easily accessible in our Nautilus portal.  Carriers like Qwest list contract termination dates on every commission check.  Unfortunately most carriers don't have the information readily available.  You will probably have to reach out to all your carriers with a list of accounts so they can get you want you need.  I know this will be a huge pain but really has to be done.  Going forward with your customers you will hopefully have a process but for your older customers, you have to get the information. 

Once you have all the information, you will need a way to easily access it.  This can be very basic as using a tickler system or Outlook or it can be more intricate by using spreadsheets or an asp package like If you use a Master Agent, they may have a program or process you can use to assist with this.  

Here is an example of a "Tickler" system; it is basic, inexpensive and easy.  Get 5 stand up according file folders that are divided by months.  Label the first one 2011, the next one 2012 and so one.  Then go through your customers and place a piece of paper in each file folder based on the month and year the customer's terms expires, EXCEPT - put the paper in the slot of 6 MONTHS EARLIER.  A contract that expires in Sept. 2012 would actually go in the Mar. 2012 slot.  A contract that expires in Feb 2013 would be found in the Aug. 2012 slot.  Make sense????  On the piece of paper have the customer's name, product, revenue and the exact date the contract expires.  That way on March 1, 2012 when you pull out 10 - 12 pieces of paper, you can prioritize the customers.

So what are you using to keep up with contract reterms?  Is it working the way you would like it to work? Is it easy to manage? Most importantly - Are you using it????