After a Fort Worth restaurant’s grand opening, we were so excited for what we thought would become our new favorite place to eat. We were blown away by the food and the experience. We tried three more times though and just didn’t like it. We kept saying, “I wish the food was as good as it was at the grand opening.” We haven’t been back since.

When a new restaurant opens up, it gets all this special attention. Everyone is dying to walk through its doors and get a taste—not just of the food, but of the experience. Often, the first week is when the food tastes best, the presentation is sharpest, and customers get the best care. But if we wow customers on the first visit and disappoint them on the second and third, they won’t become loyal fans. Giving our best only until the contract is signed is like a restaurant knocking it out of the park only at the grand opening: Both will soon lose their luster along with their customers.

We must continue providing the same level of focus, attention, and care to customers under contract as we do to prospects. Prospects are glamorous, but customers are the ones paying the bills. And if we want customers to remain customers, we need to treat them like we did when they were prospects.

Buyers want their homes most immediately before they sign the contract. It’s also the moment their value peaks in builder representatives’ eyes. Worse yet, customers can sense when our interest wanes. On the other hand, if they feel just as wanted after they’ve contracted, we’ll fend off buyer’s remorse and the sense that, if they went to a competitor, they’d have a better experience.

Ongoing service pays off for both salespeople and customers. Below are two ways to provide never-ending service certainty:

1) Build loyalty to you.

One of the most basic and powerful approaches to business success is to copy successful people. And there’s nobody with a better reputation for creating loyal customers than Joe Girard. Though he was honored as the “Greatest Car Salesman” by The Guinness Book of World Records, his success goes far beyond good salesmanship and demonstrates true customer service mastery. Girard sold 1,425 cars in 1973 and 13,001 over his 15-year career. According to Girard, though, he never sold a car, he sold himself. The most valuable products his customers walked away with were Joe Girard and his “service, service, service.” Girard would say, "Today you bought two things. [The car and] Joe Girard. I'll tell you something else. If you happen to have gotten a lemon, as God is my judge, I am going to turn it into a peach. I am going to show you that I am different from any other salesman in the world. I will give you service like you never saw.”

That kind of skin-in-the-game commitment increases certainty. Girard’s famous line, “The sale begins after the sale,” means he took permanent responsibility for the relationship and product. If customers had a problem, Girard was involved. He took care of the mechanics so they would take care of his customers. He never wiped his hands of the deal and every contact was as important as the first.

What if salespeople fought over the opportunity to work customers through concerns rather than trying to hand them off to someone else? When customers feel their salespeople value them more than their paychecks, they’ll stick through the issues that are bound to come up. And they won’t be able to help but to share their experience with friends. In short, you will have created service certainty.

Girard’s principles gained him endless return customers and referrals. Everyone who worked with him wanted their friends and family to have the same kind of great experience they did.

I’ve heard salespeople say their business is different from anyone else’s and repeat customers don’t matter for them. They say, “We’re working with totally different people in different areas all the time. We can’t get referrals.” This is a sorry excuse for treating people poorly. To determine whether you’ve provided the kind of service that warrants repeat business, ask yourself, “If they could buy from us again, would they?” Whatever your answer is, it’s part of your brand—individually and as a company. It affects you forever.

When you treat customers with the same reverence and respect as you did at the first encounter, you maintain a strong relationship well after the transaction is complete.

Create lifetime customers by treating customers like prospects and they’ll never feel like “just” customers.

2) Build loyalty to the life they’ll live in their home.

If you want loyal customers, you can’t just get them excited about incentives, interest rates, and flooring options. Such circumstantial motivators have a place, but it’s more important customers fall in love with the life they’ll live in their new home than with the structure itself. If homebuyers picture raising their kids in the home and entertaining friends and family on the back porch, their commitment will go beyond a signature and will be etched into their hearts.

Unlike most industries, home buyers don’t walk away with a product in hand. After they sign, they may wait months to close and physically move in. Since their commitment is intangible, it is important to keep contracted customers positively engaged, both mentally and emotionally.

Buyers want their home most before they sign. After signing, their eyes naturally start to wander, and it’s normal for customers to want the home just a little less. The most effective salespeople combat this by talking about where they’re going to put their furniture, who they’ll have over, and the memories they’ll make. Keeping them emotionally connected increases certainty about their decision. As long as they continue to mentally “own” the home, they’ll be more likely to follow through with the final steps to owning the home physically.

Service is selling and selling is service. Look at each contract as “to be sold,” not “to be built.” If you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll end up as “to be cancelled.” Creating loyalty before, during, and after the contract earns loyal fans who feel they simply have to buy from you. Consider Tony Robbins’ mantra: “Do what you did in the beginning of the relationship and there won’t be an end.”