Whether you’re a one-person operation or have several hundred employees, professionalism is key to a successful contracting business. Your highest revenue stream should be generated from repeat and referral customers. A bad review travels fast, while contractors actually have to work at acquiring good reviews, particularly on the Internet. As Ben Franklin eloquently surmised, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Follow these simple tips below to stay on top of your game with customers.
Before the Job:
• Image — Make sure you look the part. Would you let you into your home? A sloppy appearance indicates sloppy workmanship. Most contractors opt for a uniform consisting of a logo shirt, work pants and OSHA approved work boots. Your work truck should be clean and in safe working order. Your company name, logo, phone number, website and license number should be clearly displayed on the truck.
• Knowledge — Take some time to research the customer. Are they a repeat customer? If so, do they have a service agreement? Is this a recurring issue? If not a repeat customer, how did they hear about you today? Are they eligible for any coupons or discounts? What tools and/or equipment will you need for the job? Ensure you have all documents and marketing materials prepared. That includes: invoices, service agreements, credit card slips, financing paperwork, business card, sticker or magnet.
• Communication — Clearly communicate with the customer the expected time of your arrival. At Mr. Plumber, we give the customer a window of AM or PM and we will call them with an hour notice to let them know the Technician is on the way. If we are going to be delayed, we call to inform them.
At the Job:
• Park in front of the customer’s house, ensuring you follow all traffic and parking laws.
• Knock! Do not ring the doorbell. Only salespeople ring the door bell.
• Introduce yourself and make sure you parked in an acceptable location.
• Put on booties or shoe covers BEFORE ENTERING THE HOME. Customer’s LOVE this simple consideration for their home.
• Communicate everything. Give them an agenda of how the process will work. Thank them for calling you and let them know you’re going to inspect their problem and the rest of their home to ensure they are safe and efficient.
• Once you’ve diagnosed, get the customer to approve the job and cost BEFORE you do the work. This is a great way to not get paid for work you’ve already completed. Ensure the customer understands the cost completely and answer all their questions. Get them to sign off on the work.
After the Job:
• Follow up with the customer. Depending on the size of the operation, this may seem like a daunting task, but it is critical. At this time you can gather their email address and ask them to review your company online.
• Send a thank you note. You don’t have to send one to a customer EVERY time you do work for them. But, a simple note, signed by office staff is a nice way to tell your customer you appreciate them and their business.
Without your customer, you would not be in business. Ensure that all members of staff understand this concept and the importance of professionalism through all aspects of your business. Taking a little time to prepare will demonstrate to your customer that they chose the best professional service.
Allie Perez is director of operations, Mr. Plumber / Mr. AC, San Antonio (http://www.mrplumbersa.com). Her interesting viewpoints on the trades can be found on her blog at http://www.mrplumbersa.com/blog. She also is founder of Texas Women in the Trades (TWIT). Visit texaswomenintrades.com.