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Delivering excellence to consumers is the pathway to your contracting business’ success. If you deliver excellence to consumers, they will receive value for their hard-earned dollars. Consumers who perceive that they receive value for their hard-earned dollars will repeatedly avail themselves of the services that your plumbing, heating or cooling contracting business provides when they need or want those types of services.
When consumers consistently use your services, they become your loyal clientele rather than just anybody’s customer — enabling your business to grow and become financially stronger.
Your loyal clientele will probably recommend your business to neighbors, friends and relatives who need the services you provide,
And, if you continue to deliver excellence to the public, your clientele list will expand along with your ability to maximize your profits.
It’s certainly simple enough to understand.
The question that should come to your mind is, “How do I know my customers are truly satisfied with my business’ practices, services and prices?”
The simple answer is to ask them.
When you know how consumers feel about your business, you can fix what needs attention while enhancing what they perceive to be great qualities regarding your enterprise.
As a master plumber and HVAC contractor, when I was in the plumbing, heating and cooling service contracting business, I constantly pressed my staff on the issue of delivering excellence to our customers.
The best way for my technicians to have job security and for the business to be successful was to perform the services we provided as if we were performing them for our own mothers. After all, everyone wants to please their moms.
I developed a method in which my techs could approach those consumers and ask their opinions regarding their perception of our business.
The techs would provide consumers with a questionnaire so we had an idea of whether we were on the right track concerning the consumers’ perception of our business.
The form also allowed space for any comments the consumer wanted to add.
It should be noted that my business was never the cheapest around. That’s due to the fact that delivery of excellence costs more to produce than the haphazard “throw-it-in-from-the-street” level of workmanship that comes from mediocrity.
Therefore, one of the questions we asked consumers pertained to our prices. I always expected that question to be the most informative, although it also presented the possibility of being the most demoralizing.
We also asked customers’ perception of our overall service as it pertained to certain issues. Then we asked whether they would consider availing themselves of our services in the future.
Regarding our overall services, they had six rating choices: outstanding, excellent, good, fair, poor, or state that they had no opinion of any specific issue.
The following data was attained from the consumers’ written acknowledgments over the years.
• Since the first contact with our business was usually by telephone to our office to set up an appointment, we asked consumers to rate our office with regards to helpfulness and courteousness.
Ninety-seven percent of consumers found our office’s helpfulness and courtesy outstanding or excellent; only 3 percent rated us good. Not bad!
• When asked about our response time in addressing their requests, 100 percent of consumers found us outstanding or excellent.
• All responding consumers found our technicians to possess an outstanding or excellent appearance and attitude/work style.
• Unanimously, consumers felt the services we performed for them were outstanding or excellent.
• And 100 percent of consumers found our professionalism to be outstanding or excellent.
So much for opinions on our business practices; their thoughts on our prices and whether they would use us again were the real business-building questions.
Just Right Prices
It should be noted that many contractors often wonder whether their prices are too high or too low. I continually preach that contractor prices must be based on the costs each individual contracting business incurs to deliver excellence to consumers.
Unfortunately, too many contractors don’t know the true operational business costs they incur to run their businesses; that is the reason they often question their prices.
When asked about the perception of consumers regarding the prices of our services, I gave consumers four choices. The first choice I listed was the worst for our business: more than expected. I thought that if it was their first choice and they jumped over to choices that were more favorable to my business, I would get their true thoughts.
The choices were listed in this order:
1. More than expected.
2. Just right.
3. Less than expected.
4. No opinion.
Contrary to my belief that most consumers would select the first choice, only 31 percent of respondents did so. Sixty-nine percent of consumers rated our prices as about right.
When asked if they would use our business again, 93 percent of respondents said yes, while 7 percent said maybe.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that no consumers wanted to say they wouldn’t use us again. However, the delivery of excellence probably made those consumers, who might have said no, realize they didn’t want to alienate themselves from a business delivering excellence in case they needed a service that provided outstanding response time.
Polls always have variables. However, when positive percentages were as overwhelming as those in my surveys were, I was assured that my business was on the right track.
Even though 31 percent of consumers thought our prices were more than expected, two-thirds of those consumers would still use us again. That means 89 percent of consumers would use us again. Rounding up to 90 percent means that 9 out of every 10 consumers would repeatedly avail themselves of our services. Not bad!
Lighting The Path To Success
Vince Lombardi, head coach of the Green Bay Packers, who won Super Bowls I and II, said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
That alone shows the importance of delivering excellence to consumers.
In 100 percent of those surveys, consumers added their own thoughts, ranging from praising our business’ outstanding response time, knowledge, explanations, choices of options and upfront prices, expediency of service, their appreciation of our service, and acknowledgment of positive thoughts regarding the techs who performed those services.
The delivery of excellence will allow you to hone the ability to grow your business — size-wise and profit-wise.
Knowing how consumers perceive your business will give you the confidence to continually do the right things to help you increase your business while maximizing your profits.
You may need help establishing business protocols to deliver the excellence your clients deserve.
If you do, there are consultants who can help; however, it is your duty to yourself and your business to interview those consultants before deciding to avail yourself of their services. I’m sure you realize the quality of plumbers and HVAC techs vary. The same is true regarding consultants.
Asking consumers for their opinions is help that doesn’t cost you a penny. And it can give you great insight as to how to please those who give your business revenue.
So, whether you avail yourself of the services of paid consultants or seek the opinions of your customers, remember the words I have coined and use at the end of my podcasts:
“The enlightenment of knowledge outshines the darkness of ignorance since knowledge is the light that shows you the path to success, and having the wisdom to realize you need help can give you the courage to seek help so you can see that light.”