Heron: Referrals, rewards and the road to growth


December 8, 2016

Heron Home & Outdoor’s strategy for growth involves winning new customers by building value and rewarding referrals.

Heron Home & Outdoor CEO, Greg Clendenin. Photo: Heron Home & Outdoor

Heron Home & Outdoor CEO, Greg Clendenin.
Photo: Heron Home & Outdoor

Moments of truth — that’s what Greg Clendenin, CEO of Heron Home & Outdoor, and his team call the point of contact in a customer’s service cycle when the customer makes a decision as to whether he or she will continue to be a Heron customer.

“Every time we have contact with a customer, whether it be directly, such as when we speak with them, or indirectly, such as when we send them an invoice — that’s the moment of truth,” Clendenin explains. “When a customer buys service, they expect it to be great service, always from everyone.”

But despite best efforts, at some point every pest management company has had to cope with the loss of a customer who canceled service unexpectedly, moved on to another service provider. Clendenin says that in such circumstances, it’s difficult to win the customer back. Therefore, instead of prioritizing how to win the customer back, Heron concentrates on making sure they have no reason to leave.

“Sometimes we do have customers leave who were actually very happy with our service. If we can’t keep them, we encourage them to call again if and when they need us again,” Clendenin says.

Clendenin notes if they leave because they’ve found a lower price, often they return when they realize they’re better off paying for top service from a trusted company.

“Building value in the eyes of the customer before they leave is an important part of winning them back,” Clendenin says.

Referrals rule

Establishing a company as a valuable asset in the eyes of customers also extends to potential customers. This is why Clendenin finds referrals especially important. Whether in the form of online reviews or word-of-mouth between friends and neighbors, he says referrals provide an inexpensive lead that very often pays off.

“Customer referrals have a very high closing rate,” he says. “We reward customers who give us a referral and teach our team how to get referrals from current customers.”

Heron doesn’t incentivize positive online customer reviews, but does encourage employees to ask whether they’d consider giving Heron an online review that reflects their satisfaction.

Pest management isn’t the only service Heron provides, which begs the question: Can you cross-pollinate referrals across different services?

Clendenin confirms, adding that both divisions collaborate every day. “Both our field employees and our customer care team members look for opportunities to talk to customers about leads for our sales team, and offer additional payouts to the employee who generated the lead when services are sold.”

Heron Home & Outdoor

Headquarters: Apopka, Fla.
2015 revenue: $18.4 million
Projected 2016 revenue: $21 million
Projected increase: 14 percent

Top 3 business tips:

  1. Don’t try to be the low-cost provider, but have a pricing strategy.
  2. Employee training and retention should be a top priority.
  3. Work hard at keeping every single customer happy and onboard. Companies go out of business one customer at a time.

Senior Editor Will Nepper can be reached at wnepper@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3775.


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