While many contractors make a lot of money in a 4 month period during the summer, is there a chance you could do even better? Perhaps serve the customers better and improve your chances for referrals where there is no competition while earning trust from the consumer? Of course, YES.
Here are 10 ways to improve your company performance and keep your sanity during the hot weather.
- Listen to your customers. Contractors often get too rushed in summer, realizing there are more customers to see in this time period then a few months ago. When moving too fast, this can cause many to stop or forget to do the very things that made them the kind of company the customer wants to see. Really pay attention to the customer. Listen to their story and don’t jump to conclusions before they finish. Repeat back what they said so you can begin earning their trust because they know you are listening. Then you can fix the problem.
- Stay focused. Focus on the customer. Set aside the personal problems as they are not interested in your daughter’s broken arm, for instance. Leave the other customers outside your home, your family issues should not come in the house with you.
- Make a good first impression. Yep, gotta get them booties out. I know it takes about 20 seconds to put on the carpet protectors, but it shows respect. Do it every time. And take 2 breath mints before you ring the doorbell. They don’t need to know you had garlic pizza for lunch. If you’re a smoker, at least put some Fabreeze spray on or something to help repel the smoke odor.
- Clean shirt. Take a minute to be sure you are not wearing the last dirty service call. If you’re last service call made your shirt dirty, put on another new shirt. Yes, the back up shirt you should keep and always have available in your truck. When you use it, take the soiled shirt out of the truck that evening and get it cleaned. Also, clean up and straighten up that truck. Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to throw out the trash and make sure you have adequate supplies, with a simple quick overview to make sure you are always prepared for upcoming jobs.
- Do a complete exam. When you go to the doctor, they take blood pressure, weight, pulse, and more, even when you tell him you have a rash on your arm. They are looking for other problems that may be a factor. We have to have that same attitude as contractors to look the entire system over. You may find a valve that leaks or another issue that, if found, could save your customer lots of money by correcting the problem early.
- Quality over quantity. Recently, a contractor in California told me he had a tech who ran 12 calls the day before. Really? In California traffic? I did not ask how many he had to go back on, but when we are rushed, mistakes happen that can cost customers money and ultimately, yor company more future business. So a company may have to tell a customer the reality: to do this job correctly, you will be there tomorrow, or in two days if necessary. Realize the customer doesn’t want to hear this, but the dispatcher has to know there is a physical limit to what the company can do in a given day. This ultimately is good for the customer and your business. Stacking on more calls can weaken your effectiveness and your bottom line.
- Start a maintenance agreement program. Yep, start it now! This is especially beneficial when you service HVAC units in addition to plumbing services. When you come upon a nasty problem, tell the customer the truth, they need a precision tune up and professional cleaning. In many cases, the unit has a problem that can be traced back to a lack of maintenance. You can even schedule that tune up for October, when the units are not used as much and it’s a more convenient time for your customer.
- Do immediate maintenance on older equipment. If you have a customer contact you that has older equipment, schedule maintenance to be done quickly. Especially before summer for HVAC equipment, before it breaks down. That way you have a better chance to pick up a new customer when the competition can’t get to them.
- Develop a “go now” attitude for replacement sales. Some contractors get the information for a quote and then take it back to the office to put together a proposal. Then “tries” to make an appointment to go back to share the numbers. When a call comes in, get to the home now and put together a proposal on the spot. Make it happen. And while you’re in the neighborhood, don’t fax or email a proposal. This stuff is sold face to face where people like to buy from people they like. 7% of communication is words, 38% is tone of voice, and 55% is body language. So you can gain more customers using good body language face to face.
- Praise the successes. Publically. Thank the team members who go the extra mile and help a customer in unexpected ways. Correct the mistakes privately. Make sure the team understands you value them.
Although these ideas are simple, they are always good principles for every business and everyone needs a refreshing reminder from time to time.