Profile: Carl Hyman.
Alure Home Improvements of Hicksville, N.Y., attributes its growth from a sales volume of $18 million in 2002 to $27 million in 2004 to Partner Points, a program that promotes repeat and referral business. About 12 years ago, president Carl Hyman (Big50 1993) began promoting profitable referral and repeal work by sending out a newsletter. setting up a service department for warranty work, and creating the early version of the Partner Points program, where the client who referred the company the most won a Caribbean vacation.
Three years ago Hyman expanded the program. With the new version, every client who reaches 200,000 points from repeat business and referrals receives a seven-night trip. Clients earn points in the following ways:
* They receive a point per dollar they spend on a project.
* For each first referral, for every dollar the friend or relative spends with Alure, the referring client receives the same amount of points as the new client. On future jobs the referee does with the company; only the client gets the points, and not the original referrer.
* Customers can also earn extra points for such activities as attending parties.
* In new territories, Alure offers special, limited-time offers, such as double points for referring customers.
Hyman mails out a brochure to all clients with details including date, place, resort in formation, and photos. Last year, eight clients won. He tries to have the winners go on the same trip. "I wanted everyone to network and to share good feelings," Hyman says. He provides alternate vacations for those who can't attend, and next year he is planning a trip for families with children. He or his partner attend the trips to take care of any problems.
Before this program, Alure spent 10% to 12% of their sales volume on ads. Now they spend about 5%. "If everyone in this industry worked more on repeat and referral, and less on spending a fortune in ads, everyone's bottom line would be more," Hyman says.--N.P.