If the Dog's Water Dish is Tipped Over, Fill it Up
Have you ever thought about why your customers continue to buy from your company? Educators tell us customers continue to buy from your company because of the high quality of work you perform. Well, your company does have the best-trained journeymen in town and your customers realize it. The technical schools must be right, right? Well you do need great journeyman since the quality of work is very important, but that alone is not enough. Your distributor might tell you that your customers love you because of the variety of products you offer, coupled with the ability to have the part or piece of equipment in your hands ready to install at a moment's notice. Marketing people, yellow page reps in particular, will tell you the customer keeps coming back because of your marketing program. Again, the direct mail piece is important. So are the newsletter, radio ad and yellow page ad, but that alone will not keep the customer coming back. So if it isn't the above items, it must be the company image. It's those beautifully lettered trucks and the sharp uniforms the journeymen wear-right? That is part of the reason but not the main reason. How about the brand names you sell? Customers keep calling your company because of the trusted brand names you offer that are promoted by manufacturers nationwide on TV, radio and the print media. That must be it-right? As the rental car commercial says "Not exactly!"
So what is the real reason customers continue to buy from you and any other company for that matter? After a lot of extensive polling and nationwide surveys the reason has become quite clear. Customers continue to buy from you because they like you! That's right, most customers buy a product or service from a company because they "like" the person or persons they are dealing with.
I attended a seminar a couple of years ago and the above point was illustrated by the following true story. The story centered on a well-known, high quality, home delivery food and ice cream service. To protect the innocent we will call the company Joe's Great Quality Frozen Food Home Delivery Service or "Joe's" for short. Now to get the whole picture you have to understand the homeowners. They owned a very large German shepherd. It was a very friendly dog, but big. Since it was a large dog, and it made the neighbors a bit nervous, the homeowners had their entire yard fenced in for their dog, named Rover. When anyone entered the fenced in yard Rover would come seemingly from nowhere. He would approach the new visitor with lightning speed and would then begin pushing against their legs in hopes the visitor would pet him. Rover was big and scary looking, but he was harmless. He just wanted to be petted. Now you know the players so our true story can begin.
One day, Joe's called on our homeowners for the first time ever. Mrs. Homeowner heard a truck drive up out front, pulled back the shades a bit and watched. As the driver from Joe's entered the front gate you can guess what happened. Here came Rover with his usual blinding speed. As Rover started nudging the home delivery person, the wife was still watching through the ever-so-slightly-drawn shade and then it happened. The deliveryman kicked the dog! Yes, he kicked the homeowner's four-legged best friend. Well, as you might have guessed, by this time the arrival of the new deliveryman from Joe's was not well received and needless to say did not make the sale. That night Mrs. Homeowner told Mr. Homeowner about what happened that day and how she would never, ever purchase anything from Joe's.
A few weeks went by and Mr. Homeowner noticed a check had been written out to Joe's. Not wishing to make a scene, he let it pass. Over the coming weeks and months he noticed more and more checks written to Joe's with greater and greater frequency. Finally he could not stand it any longer and he confronted his wife at dinner that evening. "Honey, I thought you said you would never, ever purchase anything from Joe's? Over the past few months I have noticed there have been quite a few checks written to Joe's. What is going on?" His wife then explained what happened. "A couple weeks after the first visit from Joe's they called again, but this time it was a different delivery man. Again, I heard the truck drive up to the house so I watched from behind the shade. It was a really hot day. Shortly after the new deliveryman entered the front gate it happened again. Out came Rover and he began to nudge the new deliveryman. This deliveryman, however, was different. He went back to the truck, unwrapped an ice cream cone and fed it to Rover. Well you can guess what kind of reception I gave the second deliveryman. Over the next few weeks I bought a few more things and then one day the driver asked me a question. He said "Mrs. Homeowner, I came last week, but you were not home. You probably remember the day it was well over 100 degrees outside. I noticed Rover's water dish had been tipped over. I hope you didn't mind but I filled his water dish from the hose on the side of the house. It was so hot and he looked very thirsty." Do you think Mrs. Homeowner minded? Of course not, she loved the new deliveryman from Joe's! Why did she buy from the second man and not the first? Simple, she "liked" the second delivery person.
Your journeymen may not win first place for having the best personality, but there are few things you can do to help the customer like your service technicians a little bit more. I learned the secret of sales many years ago by one the best sales people in the business. He explained that every sales presentation must do three things and that they must be done in a specific order. When you sit down with the customer, the first thing you must do is to sell yourself. Spend the first couple of minutes telling your customer who you are. Share with them your educational and experience background, including how long you have been with the current company. Tell them why you love being in the plumbing business.
Secondly, sell your company. Tell them how long your company has been in business and what kind of products and services you offer. Explain how all your journeymen have been trained and certified. List the different local and national organizations your company is part of and point out (hopefully with lots of pictures) local homes, businesses or commercial buildings your company has worked on. Show the customer your insurance certificates and explain how you keep historical records of every call. Let them know about the extensive inventory you carry and how you offer 24 hour emergency service to your customers. In other words, sell the company.