Consumer trust in your business leads to success. Trust is a very important business-building asset to have. You can enjoy repeat business from the consumers you served yesterday as you meet new consumers today to grow and fortify your business. Trust is like respect — it must be earned. For you to earn your customers’ trust, you must show them you know your trade. You must deliver value to them through excellence in performance for the dollars they pay you.
Integrity and loyalty
Before you can display your knowledge and delivery of excellence, you must seize the opportunity to display your integrity when the consumer first contacts you as well as throughout your dealings with the client. You accomplish it by being honest. You must show the consumer you are there to address his request for his benefit.
Explain your business protocols so the consumer will make an appointment with one of your technicians to examine the circumstances surrounding the request. Once a technician has seen the situation, he should show the client all the options he has to choose from and quote an upfront price for each option, as well as the pros and cons of each option inclusive of any warranties. With this information, the consumer can make the best decision for his circumstances.
If there is no warranty, this fact should be stated up front. If a warranty does exist, state whether it is for the labor, material or the total service. I don’t suggest warranting material since you do not manufacture the material. Material should be warranted by the manufacturer.
But you do “manufacture” the labor. Beware not to warrant all labor. Services such as inspections, faucet repairs, drain cleaning, etc., shouldn’t be warranted, in my opinion. Inspections of plumbing, heating and air conditioning are just observations of the condition of those systems at present.
When addressing faucet drips, you replace new parts in an existing faucet. You are placing those new parts in an old part — the existing faucet body. You have no way of knowing if there is a flaw in the existing body that can allow water to seep by the new part, defeating the purpose for which the new parts were installed.
Taking into consideration the age of the existing faucet, explain to the client that faucet repairs do not have a warranty but entire faucet replacements do. Then quote prices for both and let the client choose what is best for the situation.
Regarding drain cleaning, if you snake a drain and thoroughly test the drainage for proper functionality upon completion of the job and it does function properly, you have done a good job. However, any consumer can clog it up soon after you leave or the condition of flawed piping can create blockages, both of which are not your responsibility. In which case, why would you want to warrant drain cleaning? It is not wise.
By explaining to the consumer how the drain functions and what not to put down the drain, you could prevent callbacks. By being honest, you can explain that if the situation reoccurs, you will have to charge them for any future services.
If a flaw exists in the piping and you properly explained the facts, one of the options you could quote in the first place is the cost to remedy the situation. However, remember you must be honest to earn trust; don’t tell the consumer they need something done that they don’t need or you don’t know they need upon the first investigation.
Regarding warranties, that which I’ve stated applies to any circumstance logically defining responsibility.
Once you are authorized to perform the service and to deliver excellence in performance, you must perform the service as if you were doing it for your parents. By being honest, quoting prices upfront and delivering excellence, you can attain consumer loyalty.
A consumer recently told me he used a contractor to repair his heat within the last two months of this writing. One Saturday, he had a leak coming from his heating system and called the contractor back, thinking the leak was related to the repair. The contractor had a voicemail system and did not return his call promptly. (I don’t know the consumer or contractor in question.)
The contractor didn’t call by the time the consumer spoke with me. The consumer started making rash judgments about the contractor. He actually called him a crook. I explained that the fact the contractor didn’t call him back expeditiously does not make the contractor a crook.
However, if a contractor is in the PHC service business and a consumer has an emergency, a good business practice is to set up a way to discuss consumer situations quickly. After all, PHC service contractors are doctors of buildings. And I’m sure you wouldn’t use a doctor you could not contact in an emergency.
By offering consumers a way to contact him during an emergency, the contractor could demonstrate his loyalty to the consumer. When loyalty is blended with honesty, consumers turn into loyal clients. Honesty/loyalty is a two-way street consumers and contractors travel on. Consumers want honest, knowledgeable, loyal contractors they can depend on. Contractors want honest, loyal clients as their consumer base.
When contractors are honest and loyal to consumers, they will earn the consumers’ trust and, in turn, the consumers will extend honesty and loyalty to the contractor.
Honesty and loyalty are also the trust builders in the contractor/technician relationship. Many techs do not realize the true cost you incur to maintain them in your employment. This ignorance blinds many of them to the fact that all the money they bring into your business does not go into your pocket.
Be sincere and honest with your technicians. Enlighten them by reminding them that the trucks they drive, vehicular insurances required, fuel consumed, maintenance done, and registration and inspections mandated by law all cost money.
Then, there is the cost of their salaries, which are encumbered by additional salary-related expenses such as FICA matching funds, and workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurances. Health insurance, vacation and holiday pay, and retirement funds all add to the drain put on the total amount of money they bring into your business.
Don’t forget the salaries of the administrative staff who set up the appointments for techs to go on and finish the paperwork after the tech completes the job. Administrative salaries also come with salary-related expenses. Liability and completed operations insurances are other costs to consider.
But it doesn’t end there. Rent, utilities, maintenance, office supplies and equipment, phones, advertising/marketing, accountants, lawyers, customer relations, tools, licenses, bank charges and a myriad of unforeseen costs drain the revenue technicians bring into the business.
By being honest and explaining to your techs that all the money they bring into the business does not go into your pocket but back into the business, you can defuse the erroneous thought pattern many techs have about the money your business charges your clientele.
Techs are not aware of all these operational costs. And they don’t seem to realize that the only source of money to pay for those operational costs, so they can continue to be gainfully employed, comes from the monies they bring into the business. Honestly explaining these costs to them is one step to earning their loyalty.
Another step, a very important step, is to compensate technicians so they are content in the reward they receive for the labors they contribute to your business. When they have to moonlight after hours because you don’t pay them properly, you are hurting your own business because those moonlighting jobs could have been done by your business. In some instances, those jobs are taken away from your business if the tech tells the customer he or she could come back after work and do the job for less than what your business charges.
To compensate techs properly, ask yourself what amount you would like to be paid for your expertise and labors if you worked for someone else. Loyalty is an altruistic trait, but in the world in which we live, altruism doesn’t pay for food, shelter and clothing.
Once you establish a compensation package that is individually commensurate with the contribution of each employee, you must incorporate the compensation packages into your operational expense budget so you will establish your prices based on your true cost and then sell your services above it.
You must know you can trust your techs. They must know they can live a content life because you are paying them well. In turn, they will feel good and be incentivized about delivering excellence to your clientele, who will trust your business to service their needs and desires.
To arrive at the best way to enhance your abilities, you might need a little help. If so, give me a call. Honesty and loyalty breed trust in your techs and your clients. And trust leads to your business success.