Exceeding Expectations For Fun And Profit
By Jayme Broudy, Contractor's Business School
Dear Jayme: I can’t spend a lot of money on marketing. How can I set myself apart from my competitors without a big budget? - Ray
Dear Ray: A while back, I had a guy come in and do some network wiring in my office. He got the job done but when I went back to my office, there was a little pile of drywall dust and wood chips under the outlet he’d installed. Very annoying. A little investigation revealed that there was a similar pile of debris everywhere he’d worked. Even more annoying. Guess who’ll never get hired again?
In contrast, a month ago we had the chimney cleaned (an interesting case because the work they do is virtually never seen) and I was very impressed with the chimney cleaner and will use him every year. How did he make his invisible work stand out? He did two things.
First, he showed up exactly on time. He said 10 o’clock and he was there at 9:58. When June Cleaver spent all her time around the house, tradesmen could show up whenever and not really inconvenience her. Nowadays, few customers have hours to waste waiting for you to show up. Their time is money just like yours and they’ll feel rightly insulted if you expect them to do so.
Second, in addition to cleaning the chimney, he cleaned out all the ashes from the fireplace. No other chimney cleaner had ever done this small extra service. It probably only took him 2 extra minutes to vacuum up all those ashes, but it saved us from having to do this dirty chore for another month and I was delighted.
So the first impression the chimney cleaner made was professional and positive, and the last was a pleasant surprise that made his usually invisible work very obvious to us for weeks. And neither cost him much of anything.
It doesn’t take a lot to exceed your customers’ expectations and rise above your competition. Here are a few ideas:
• Be on time. I say this over and over. Contractors especially do a miserable job at this and you can be a star if you’re the one who does it.
• Address your customers as “Mr., Mrs., Sir, and Ma’am”.
• Send a signed, follow up “thank-you-for-your-business” card.
• Leave the jobsite cleaner than you found it.
• Use slightly better hardware/material than is absolutely necessary.
• Leave a small supply of replacement parts (with your name on them).
Whatever you decide to implement, make sure that the process is properly documented and that every employee does it every single time. This stuff only works if every customer has the same excellent experience from every employee.
Beware: Little extras are not a substitute for doing the basic work expertly. Your people's competence at their technical work must be impeccable.
Your objective is to leave the customer feeling impressed and delighted with his experience with you. Not just satisfied: Delighted. Today’s climate of indifferent service means that you don’t have to walk on water (or spend a lot) to make a good impression. Just consistently do a little bit more than the customer expects and you’ll distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Contractor’s Business School® is a coaching, training and consulting firm specializing in helping contractors produce more profit in less time. Calling on experience dating back to 1993, the company has worked with hundreds of contractors in many specialty areas to build successful stand-alone businesses. Visitwww.contractorsbusinessschool.com, or call (800) 527-7545 to get the FREE CD "10 Key Strategies to Build a Business that Works."
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