Category Archives: plumbing sales

Eloquent Expressive Narrative Conversation

Eloquent Expressive Narrative Conversation

Today is the beginning of new and exciting future for you. Will you choose to take advantage of this golden opportunity? Now is the time to decide the direction of your tomorrow. 2015 is beckoning for a continuation of your growth of 2014. This past year drove many companies to discover a way to deliver extraordinary and over the top customer service and experience. Giving their customers different experiences then they have ever had in the past from any service provider.

This has led many companies to try a different approach delivering better solutions to consumers. In order to facilitate change with their customers companies have to make a decision concerning the direction of their company. This direction has the company moving forward and typically not walking in familiar territory. A change from the normal performance of business to an exchange of ideas increasing the customer’s involvement from diagnostic, covering multiple options, and budget.

The transformation is with the communication, replacing your conservative communication with effective conversation driving your exchange of descriptive phrasing that thrusts a picture of the positive ownership exchange between buyer and seller. The consumer must place them self in a position to understand and to become part of the decision making process of the sale. This is the exciting change that will take place.

Now is the time you should start to give the customer ideas that will assist them decide what is in their best interest and fits into their budget and alleviate any issues preventing her from moving forward. Frequently in the construction service trades the technician will tell the consumer a choice perhaps 2 choices. The consumer realizes neither of the choices is viable and chooses to let you go and try someone else and improve the choices.

The 2 choices frequently given the consumer are to make a repair or to do nothing. What would multiple choices given to the consumer look like to you and your buyer and how would it affect their decisions? What if she knew and understood the ease of something new? What if you are able to convey a message and a product that encouraged and compelled the consumer too purchase a better product that produces superior results than the old existing product.

Will you give yourself the authority to positively move your company in a new direction that brings excitement and renewed joy driving your ability to increase your potential earnings and profits? You do control the ability to make choices. What choice will you make today?

Decide to increase your ability to communicate driving conversation that will change your life and those that are around you. This includes your customers by giving them better solutions that allow them to want to use your products and services. Then it will affect all of the people that surround you personally such as family and friends. In conclusion it will affect your co-workers and employees due to conveying descriptive and graphic concepts that presents ideas that are clear and precise painting a colorful image with their words. Their words will match their actions.
vision and success
Are you ready to make that decision? Will you make decision?

Practice Better Business


The past 12 months

The past 12 months

Wow a lot has happened in the past 12 months. Some good, some bad, and some of it ok. We scheduled on a routine removal of a 4 centimeter polyp October 29th, 2013. The night before was a typical and predictable night before surgery no food or drink after 12:00 midnight. I was a smoker and I smoked my last cigarette that night. We went to bed thinking that it would be a quick in and out and life would return to normal.

On our way to the hospital for the surgery roughly 5:30 AM Suzy and I chatted. We had no idea what was around the corner. All I can say is Suzy is one of the strongest women I have ever known and will ever know and I am ecstatic that she is in my corner and in my world. After the surgery we discovered that they found cancer in my colon. They removed 22 lymph nodes and 21 of them were cancerous. There was more left inside the colon. However we still had no idea concerning how severe and impacted our lives would become.

The next 5 days in the hospital recovering from colon surgery the surgeon kept on saying; we did not catch it in time? I kept asking what that means. The surgeon would repeat himself saying we did not catch it in time. No one could tell me what that meant. Every time I have an appointment with him, he repeats that phrase and every time I ask what that means. During the hospital stay I did not know if I would be coming home from the hospital and I still do not know today what we did not catch it in time means. All I know is here am I today.

After being released from the hospital we were advised to meet with an oncologist. We were extremely lucky with the person we chose. The choice was random. We met with a local oncologist that we really liked. However every place we visited suggested that we get a second opinion. There is a cancer help facility that has volunteers and they pushed hard for us to visit a cancer institute in Tampa to receive a 2nd opinion. Finally after a few months of this particular place pushing for a 2nd opinion I said ok. Suzy and I set the appointment and sat with an oncologist from this center. This fellow sat in the middle of the room slouched in a chair and asked: what do you know. We told him, he said WRONG. He said you have a 5% chance of survival. He also made it perfectly clear that the oncologist was not doing what she should have been doing. He told us his diagnostics and what he would be doing differently than our present oncologist and if I expected to live I would be with him.

Obviously we had many questions and many more that could not be answered. Tic toc, tic toc, time ticking and slipping away. There was and is so many things that we want to do, know, and now we discovered there is not enough time for us to complete the bucket list. If you get anything out of this forget the bucket list for the future. Start fulfilling your bucket list now your future is now. When your decision is to wait the wait may never mature into the right choice.

We drove home that long lonely Thursday night, the hour and half seemed like an eternity. It was the longest drive I think we have ever made. Both Suzy and I cried most of the way home. We were not sure what we were going to do or how we would break this to our adult children. Then we decided to wait until the following Monday when we would be visiting with our original oncologist. Sometimes the best thing is to sit and relax before making decisions that you believe are life changing .

Friday afternoon while walking I had an epiphany that hit me square in the jaw. I started to analyze the original oncologist statements and this new person we visited on Thursday. When you are in that situation you reach for whatever is available to change the circumstances. However the circumstances did not need changed. My direction and beliefs went back to the original oncologist’s remarks and diagnostics. When I arrived home Suzy had the same idea. How could we possibly allow someone that did not know, understand, or was vested in our wellbeing adjust our thought process.

Finally Monday arrived, our tears were dry by now and emotionally we were spent. Our emotional stance dressed our bodies. I dislike when a customer seeks a second opinion from me. I can only imagine how a Doctor feels. I explained what I had done by getting second opinion. We have a fantastic oncologist. She looked at us and said I work for you. If I missed something I am more than happy to get you in a treatment that is better for you. We love her spirit, her professionalism, and her caring attitude. Her name is Janice Eakles and we trust her explicitly. Better yet we have entrusted her with my life which should explain everything that you may want to know about her ability.

Here is what we found: The second oncologist from Tampa was making a diagnostic on 3 month old data. Second he recommended a treatment that destroyed cells that were rebuilding the area of my colon that had undergone surgery. His prescribed treatment would have destroyed my colon and not allowed it to heal. Who knows what he meant by a 5% chance of living? This man tried to convince us that our world had stopped spinning and it was time for me to step off.

We have consumed a full year brawling all the way with aggressive treatments. Having a year under our belts is huge especially when I did not know if I would be coming home from the hospital. I did not know if I would be there for my granddaughter’s birthday in February, or Valentine’s Day, our kid’s birthday. It has been an extremely tough year for Suzy and me. You know what, we made it and now are looking forward to next year. We forgot a major force in our lives and that is God. When it is our time it is our time decided by God and no man has control over our destination and will not determine time. Through faith our strength and resolve became so strong and has led us to where we stand today. We are now so much better prepared for the future. We have discovered that we and more specifically myself am ready and ok with the end. However at this time I am not ready and have more to do.

Over the past 12 months I have noticed my tolerance of people and their stupid remarks has dropped considerably. I cannot believe how many people try to reduce things to the ridiculous which helps no one and is of no value. What each person requires are people that surround them that add value and are valuable to the growth and wisdom that is necessary to live each day. I am no longer interested in how a person reacts when they should sit back and respond. I no longer am tolerant of people who see the same results yet they continue to repeat the same activates then deny that another idea or concept will not work in their circumstance. Stop being afraid to accept change especially when change is the exact answer to your circumstances. The problem is whether you change or not is your choice and it is amazing how badly some people choose.

What is amazing is we do not know when the end is near. We can speculate but then again why would you want to know? There is too much to share especially the events that have happened in everyone’s life to date is more exciting than discussing the things you may or may not have the ability to experience. Decide to live each day as if it were your last. Express gratitude by professing your faith in God, articulating how valuable and important your family is to you and the unconditional love that surrounds the family. Then lastly to have continued gratefulness for the people that encircle you. It is extremely important to remove all obstacles and negative people from immediate environment. There is absolutely no reason or rhyme why you should endure people that are not happy or joyful.

Richard Hilliard
Practice Better Business


What you think may not be what the customer thinks.

past  futureWhat you think may not be what the customer thinks.

Every Wednesday morning we hold ongoing training. I try to have theme based training. As any of you who have kept up reading the blogs I post a lot of the blogs pertain to communication. I believe the reason sales fail is due to a communication breakdown. Some will debate that you can do everything perfect and still the sale will fall through the cracks. That is a true statement. However let us look at who the sale was perfect too. It was perfect in the eyes of the wrong person and that is the sales person. It must be perfect in the eyes of the customer. They are the ones who hold the key to the door that you want to enter.

I was asking plumbers an area of difficulty when they are trying to renew service agreements? Their response is not surprising. A few of their co-workers have been to the home and there to do list suggesting preventive measures do not standup to the number of issues they found. The customer will make a statement that the other plumbers/guys have not said anything in the past.

Before I answer anything that a customer asks I must dig deeper to find out more information. There is a core belief that people make decisions based on what they have seen, heard, or done. The case describe in the last paragraph needs more information to give a good material back to the plumbers. The simple question of what did you say to the customer when they made that statement. As I made my way around the table discussion discovering each person’s reply many things stood out.
1. Preparation
When you are prepared you can answer the customer’s questions and concern’s without trying to defend your position.
2. Communication
Making the right statements to the customer is essential

The reply’s went like this or similar and remember they say these things to customers. I do it this way with all of my clients. This gives each client the same treatment. On the outside looking in this appears as a good thing to say to a client. However it also implies that no one else is doing what they should be doing and you have quietly just burned your co-workers and company. The customer hears no one else is doing what they should so why should I purchase this service agreement again. I did not get the correct service the last few times, what makes me think I will on the next few visits? You may be lucky to get anything out of this service call.

Another response was: this is what I do on every visit I make. This also seems like a good answer and is exactly on the same lines as above. You have just burned everyone in your company. There is no need to use you or your company there is no consistency. The company does not train their staff or they just do not care. Employees can do whatever they want and broken promises are the norm.
A sole proprietor made the statement that it depended on how busy he was. Wow really you are going to tell a customer that the care they receive is determined by how much time you think you have to spend with him or her? You are lucky they do not ask you to leave right now.

Another tells his customers I am not sure why they did not do it this way I was not here. This implies that the other people on staff are not as careful or as good as you. When I call and if I do not get you I will not get what was promised. Why should I purchase this as you have already informed me others are not doing their job properly? The biggest problem is you have told the customer that no one is supervising the others and everyone flies from the seat of their pants. This is no set procedure to follow up on your promise.

How can you be prepared? If you noticed we said renewal of a service agreement. This means your office should have history. Get that history and know what has been completed at this customer’s home and how much he or she has saved by having this service agreement. I have a customer that one of our plumbers visited her. He suggested to her that she should replace the garbage disposal. She became extremely angry at him and wondered why I who had visited her the past few years never informed her of the disposal problem.

He had history and knew ahead of time that I have already spoken with her about the disposal not once but three times in the past. Each time there was a notice on the paperwork the disposal with the reason it should be replaced. It was extremely rusted and the blades were not turning freely. Meaning the food is not being chopped up properly. He was there for a kitchen sink stoppage. Once she saw on her invoices the three notices, she turned to him and said perhaps we should listen more to you; told us what would happen 3 years ago and it happened. This is why we use you.

When you are prepared you can make sense of things and help the customer understand. It will also help you prepare a different way to present the solution that makes more sense to him or her to move forward today. Be ready for anything that a customer may say try to get you to say.
Communication is key when others in your company are not following the procedures outlined by company policy. Creating conversation as a peer versus keeping stations set where one is set in a higher capacity is always a dividing feature.By following the procedures in place you can help start developing the company culture that can and will enhance your abilities to reach success at prenominal heights.

Mrs. Client I can make sure to put a note on our computer that will inform any of our staff that visits you to follow protocol. I will also make sure there is a note to give me a call before they visit you. I wish I was as perfect as I sometimes think I am. However I am only human and am prone to making mistakes. It is good to have someone follow me to pick me up when I am not feeling exactly up to snuff.

Mr. Client each person is different. This faucet when new worked with a single finger being able to open and close the valve. I believe the valve should work with the exact same ease as when it was new. Another plumber may feel as if you can have your whole hand wrapped around the faucet and pull it on. The best thing is our service agreement is designed to give you information that is preventive in nature and gives you the opportunity to act proactively. It is your choice and you know what to look forward to and budget for in the future. Sound good to you?

Neither of these ways burns you or your company and informs the customer that from now on out the right thing will be done. You are going to make sure that it happens. Whenever I ran into this problem I made sure my office would write special instructions for the next plumber. Those instruction are treat the customer as I would or they will call me.

Start communicating with your customer and watch what you say. Even the best if intentions can give off bad vibes to a customer. Your words should carry your actions and define who you are. Watch your words as they define your character.

Crossroads Yesterday Tomorrow dreamstime_16469710

Why is the construction service industry in the shape it is?

Why is the construction service industry in the shape it is?
The plumbing industry has lost its strong reputation it once held. Plumbers were once held in high esteem. The question is how the plumbing industry lost that esteem. Here is 1 reason and we will cover others that need addressed and repaired before the industry can change the perception many consumers have of the construction trade service industry. Last week I experienced this very example and it is mind boggling that other plumbers have no sense at all and will tear down the very industry they are trying to make a decent living.

A customer calls us and tells us that her home has no water. This is a rental property and she wants to know why there is no water. She also wants to know how much all of this investment will cost her. This is a good question and is understandable given that it is an investment property. Without proper diagnostics no one can give a price without investigating the problem first there is NO plumber alive that could have given her an idea of cost without scheduling an appointment. Some super plumbers will try to convince people they can see underground and can automatically give a price, most will be wrong and in this case all of them would be incorrect. There is no way to price this job over the phone however plumbers will try and devalue their profession by pricing this job over the phone and give a low ball price that lends a hand into devaluing the profession.

Oh by the way this home is located in the county. How is that of any use? The county has potable water provided by the county and there are wells that the home owner owns supplying water too many homes in the county. You still do not know or understand why there is no water and still cannot price this job over the phone.

Our bill to the customer was 700 dollars to diagnose and get her water. 2 plumbers told her it was outrageous. How could they possibly say that without being there to diagnose the job? Oh wait they used our diagnostics to price over the phone. None of the leg work was completed by these 2 morons who just devalued the plumbing profession and helped confuse a consumer towards the honesty of other plumbers. They instead thought pounding their chests while misleading the consumer was the right way to go. Once the consumer read our diagnostics to the non-professional plumbers 1 from Sarasota and the other from Tampa, Florida they decided they could and were able to price the job.

Now remember the home owner had no idea whether she was on county water or on a well. We arrived to discover county provided the water. No padlock on the meter for lack of payment. No water at the hose faucet on the side of the home. We disconnected the main water and discovered no water prior to the shutoff valve. This told us the problem was between the curb shutoff, water main, and something in the line itself buried under ground. We then disconnected the water at the meter to discover plenty of water at that point. This means the blockage was somewhere within the 60-70 feet between the water meter and the house.

There is no backflow preventer to the potable system and none on the irrigation line that has no protection of the domestic water system. Remember those two non-professional plumbers told this customer that they would not have charged for trial and error to discover where the problem may be hiding. This is an outright lie. The diagnostics that is free for all is yes you have no water. After that the diagnostics to provide a solution start and along with the clock with charging per hour or diagnostic charges per flat rate.

We started to dig the water service up to expose the piping. Up to this point we have given the customer prices to do the diagnostics which she approved. We discovered a check valve buried under ground. A PVC check valve is not an approved safety device to protect the potable water system. The potable water system is the domestic water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking water that enters your home. In our area a backflow device is required when there is an alternate source of water. This device typically is installed 12 inches above ground and is not allowed to be buried under ground.

This home owner hired an illegal, unqualified person to install her irrigation. They installed an unapproved device underground without informing the home owner. This means this device should not have been installed underground or anywhere for that matter. There is NO reason to look for this piece installed illegally and improperly. However the 2 nonprofessional plumbing companies thought it was in the plumbing industry’s best interest to neglect informing this customer of that fact and went on to blast another plumbing company’s price to discover the problem and provide a proper solution. The problem discovered is the check valve failed and would not open. The solution to remedy the problem remove the check valve and install the proper back flow devices. The customer called these 2 idiots and gave them our diagnostics and the idiots priced the job from our diagnostics. Now all plumbers are crooks and dishonest according to these two idio0ts in the plumbing profession.

The second problem facing out industry is the willingness to hire criminals. Our industry for years pulled its work force from prisons that taught the trades to the inmates. By no means am I saying not to give people second changes. However you must protect your customers first. Instead of providing free classes to inmates we must make available training for those outside of prisons to learn the trade. It is essential that the trades enter the public school system to help promote the trades during job fair days at public schools. This is a huge problem facing our industry. This could be an article by itself.

This is huge, the industry needs to start increasing pay scales for the employees. This will attract a greater base to choose and pick the right people to visit with consumers. Increasing pay alone will not increase the ability to attract fantastic people to employ. The industry must improve the reputation of the industry as a whole. Once the industry changes the perception of the plumber or HVAC installer, electrician the chances of bringing in new blood that will generate excitement within the industry it will never change.

Our products have changed and are reaching into the 21st century with the introduction of all of the green products. We must provide a higher training regimen to learn trouble shooting that will increase the stress to learn more than what used to be considered the normal learning curve. This means thinking outside of each person’s comfort level is essential .It has been proven to be extremely difficult to implement change and education now with the changes that have taken place since 1980 in our industry.

Business acumen is a disaster in the industry at this time. Way to many owners are in business despite horrible business practices. Years past bad practices would allow a business to stay in business. Today bad practices have companies here today and gone tomorrow destroying trust with consumers and creditors. Too many suppliers would rather have relationships with consumers than with construction trades people. Consumers pay today with credit cards, checks, or cash. A new concept of having business education is fundamental with today’s companies so that they may endure hard times and still make good decisions.

Many of the companies are copying their past employers business practices as their own business practices. Thusly passing on horrible business practices without knowing they are bad for them and their company. They saw it work for their old employer. They did not see or understand how hard their past employer had to work in order to make to work. Their old employer did not tell them when they did not take a paycheck or when things were tough. They wanted to keep their guys working.

These are just a few of the items that need addressed in this profession. There are a few more that need a light to shine upon in order to force change. These items are basic to change before any other change can occur.

Time to do research and increase the perception of the industry by changing our actions and reactions. It is time for change even though you do not believe the time for action is now. Today is the day to regain the reputation that is long lost. It is time that the industry no longer cut down their peers to build themselves up. Learn how to sell yourself with a positive light.


Are you Reasonable?

Are you Reasonable?

Behind the 8 ball

A consumer inquired of a trade’s person before hiring his services asking this question, are you reasonable. This insulted the trade’s person. Frequently those in the trades have a wild imagination and ponders that this consumer is scheming and maneuvering against them or only wants cheap. In this illustration this is the trade’s person’s reply: I’ve learned instead of trying to change them. To just not do business with those types of people. It usually does not end well.

Revolutionize your mindset! It doesn’t end well because you have branded and pigeon-holed the consumer and have set your expectation to anticipate difficulty. When you expect trouble your answers to questions, facial expressions and nonverbal language is off setting to the customer. It cannot be avoided you have set the tone. Any question that may sound out there, whacked, or attacking, you become defensive in your response.

Here the trade’s person has labeled them as “those people”. What do “Those People” look like? What are the habits of “those people”? That statement belongs in the category of” are you reasonable” as a question that is labeled as out there and meaningless. How can you label a person by 1 statement that holds no value and when you have no experience with this person?

Revolutionize your mindset!

Are you reasonable is an invitation asking you to tell them why they should hire and pay you what you want? This particular trade’s person also made this statement: quote” I just had a guy ask me if I was “reasonable”. I told him “I feel like I’m worth it and you get what you pay for” lol, never understand people that only care about price”. Please explain to me anywhere in this reply that would inform any person to use you? There is no reason to use you. I think or I feel I am worth it. I do not want you to think or feel you are worth I want to know that you are worth it. If you don’t know for sure how in the world will I know that you are worth it at the end of the day? It is time to get out of the land of I’ve always done it this way and I am not going to change for any person place or things.

Are you worth it? (Me) Tell me more Mr. or Mrs. Consumer? Have you had work in the past performed by other service providers? If so what was your experience? In a very whiney voice (from trade’s people) this sounds like a used car sales person. Who cares? I want to know why they are asking if I am worth it. Obviously they have had people in the past that were not worth it to them or people they have known. Throw “those” people to the competition. Someone must do their work why not you? Frequently this customer will become the person that gives your name out to everyone they know. And is your prime customer. You just need to answer their original question of tell me why I should use you.

Know this trade’s people, a customer will spend 6-7 thousand dollars over the life of the relationship with a service provider such as a plumber/HVAC professional. Learn how to hold a conversation with them before you think they should be thrown to the wayside. By the way, stop thinking and start knowing the facts.

Are you reasonable? (Me)Please tell me what is reasonable? Then I will listen to the customer until they are done talking. Then I can answer him or her if in fact it is a question. Are you reasonable is not and never has been a statement. It is a question. Treat it as a question and then answer it in a positive way. When you answer it positively you get positive reactions and responses. Answer it defensively or as if you were attacked and you will get a defensive response. I am not sure why work should be different then the way life is and how people interact.

Are you reasonable? How do you know that your price does not fit into their category of reasonable? You assume that you are too high and that places this customer out of your random thought of I only work for people who can afford me. If I heard this from a customer my thoughts are: that is exactly why you need me to finally make this a thing of the past for you. I am now your plumber and would you like to know why? Then I would list many items customers have told me why they have chosen me for this very job in the past.

I definitely would stay away from utilities are expensive, gas is expensive, vehicles are expensive, tools are expensive. Those are your problems stop passing them onto your customer as a problem. Too often we complain to the customer that the cost of doing business is tough. If it is that tough stop working for yourself and start working for someone else. Your cost of doing business is your fault not the fault of the customer.

Finally; change Are you reasonable to why you are reasonable. These are viable reasons why you are reasonable. My list would be: I started in plumbing in 1972 and have experience that will deliver you a permanent solution to any and all of your plumbing issues. Due to the experience no job is too large or small and will take very little time at all to complete. We will deliver on our promises to you and get to the cause of the issues that will allow you to get rid of the problem.

You will receive all information to make the right choice both for and against any product or service. This will give you the opportunity to make an informed decisions based on your budget, wants and lifestyle. By having this information you can choose any number of options that will enhance and make a difference in your experience with the product and service.

The customer service you will receive will give you a new experience to start expecting more from us and any other service provider that you call into your home. With information will come a new found ability to understand how your plumbing system works in your home and an understanding of why things happen and then how to prevent them from happening again in the future? By understanding these things you can prevent me from visiting you as often as other service providers have visited in the past. The information you receive from us is more information than any other service provider has given you in the past.

You have experienced our office staff and how personable they are with you and the ease of setting up a service call. There are ways to set up a service call in the future easier than you experienced. Being Tech savvy you can use our web site to schedule a service call or ask any question, you can sue our email, Facebook, Blog, or twitter account as well as old faithful the phone call. We also provide a 24/7 emergency service specifically set in mind for you and any service you may require after hours. Our focus is to have any service you require as easy as possible for you.

Customer: why are you so unsure?STOP_THINK_OBSEVE_PROCEED_sign
Customer; I can’t believe that your prices are like they are. How in the world can you be so different than anyone else? How in the world can you charge me to come out to give me an outrageous price? I had someone come out for free and their price is way less than you and I have contracted for them to come out. They were supposed to come out Monday. (it is now Wednesday and they still have not showed up) These other guys (this is how the customer described the other company) explained much better than your plumber explained.

Granted many plumbers have a very difficult time with descriptions that paint a rosy picture of ownership. Even less know and understand the ins and outs describing why a product and service is better than the competitions offer. Frequently it is the difference between presenting a product and service and recommending a product and service.

There is more than producing a price, picture, and saying pick one. There is more than giving 1 option. In this case the competition did not spend time on product and service due to knowing and understanding they cannot compete on product and service. Instead they decided to put the main attraction and focus on the plumbing company and the customer’s emotional being that was in search of cheap price at affordable rates. What they did was bad mouth the competition with lies and how high priced the company is. They cannot compete on quality, products, or service and the only way they can do is keep the badgering on price. These companies will always be the dirty, smelly, and never show up and difficult to find company’s and will try to satisfy on price that can never be matched.

How can you prevent this from going that far?

I am glad you asked that question. What are you willing to learn in order to prevent this from happening in your sales process? How much are you willing to invest in yourself in order to learn a different strategy and implement this new strategy?

I have met many plumbers and Hvac technicians that will try to debate the merits of doing something different when it is clear that the strategy they have employed is not working. They will argue until their last breath that there is no need to change what they are doing to try something different. It is working just fine. Then why are you complaining that this happened and happens a lot? Quit it. Accept that something is broken and fix the problem, quit dreaming that something will change. The miracle pill is to admit that you can change and try something different. What if you get the same results? Try something else that is different. Pretty simple solution.

So many people in the construction trades think there is a difference between a face to face conversations or through a phone conversation with a customer as in a landlord tenant situation. Truth be told whatever you feel it is. However it does not have to be that way. When you are comfortable it will not matter if it is face to face or via a phone conversation. You must do what you do in both situations. Your phone conversations should be exactly the same as your face to face conversations. I am not so sure why anyone would change what they do.

What can you do to prevent this from happening to you? The first thing you must decide is this service call is worth my time and effort and I will do the best that I can do to deliver my product and services to the customer.

Ask all kinds of questions of this customer especially if they are a first time customer. The more questions that are designed to give you information to give the customer the best possible choices. In this case the problems were : leaking disposal, water closets not flushing and bolts rusting which made the tank loose, lavatory drains all missing the stopper ,no volume and pressure in the shower head, and a smell at the kitchen sink due to a AAV not sealed by someone else and washing machine leak.

You can ask the same questions of each issue the customer is experiencing. Has this happened in the past? What did you do last time? Do you remember why you chose that decision? What are your expectations for today? Would you like to a have different result than you have today?

The reason you ask these questions is to discover where you and your customer sit. Are you both on the same page or will you have to give more information in order for the customer to make the best choices? I will take the time to explain the difference between my product and the products that are being offered by others. That difference is what separates me from the competition. This information must be understood and be clear and concise to the customer. If they have any doubts then I must be clearer and give them more information explained differently than before.

I must explain the benefits to the customer and then how that directly affects him or her. Whenever you tell a benefit add this “which means” then give information to the customer describing what the benefit means to him or her. The larger flapper on this water closet allows a greater volume of water for a better flush which means it creates more force to flush the bowl in a scouring motion. Which means it cleans the bowl due to the force and circular motion of the water being flushed through the water closet, which means more paper and waste can eb flushed at 1 time which means less stoppages occur inside the toilet which means a savings for you by not having to call me out so often which means you can spend more time and money on the super vacation you have talked to me about in the past. I could keep this going on for as long as the customer needs information.

Start giving your customer more formation than any other person or company. Remember you are the best person and company to take care of that particular customer. I know my competition cannot help my customer better than me. Getting work, product and service completed at cut rate pricing will never equate or be equal to getting it done better. This is what we must start to understand. There are always cheaper companies. Don’t be that company. Be the company that gives consumers over the top customer service and exceptional customer experience that they can never forget and will not want to forget. Become the exception and what the market is compared to as being the expert.

Stop having the customer state I can’t believe you were so high and start having them say I am glad I called you thank you so much for taking care of me. Give them a reason to want to say thank you for the great service and tell their friends and neighbors.Make_a_Difference2

Why you need a licensed qualified professional to do work in your home.

Why you need a licensed qualified professional to do work in your home.

The wisdom the government deemed it necessary to license construction trade professionals; to make sure you have qualified professionals working in your home. To ensure that he or she understands their trade and safety issues. These professionals typically attend apprenticeship school and go through 4-5 years of schooling to learn their trades. There are way too many accidents that have caused traumatic damage to property due to unqualified people and handymen installing plumbing, electric, HVAC systems because they “thought” they could do it. A friend of mine from New York made this statement that a license is not to protect the plumber it is to protect the home owner/consumer.

Apprenticeship school teaches a plumber their trade. This encompasses the apprentice with how to size piping accordingly, read prints, understand code, and understand drainage, pressure and water. They teach pressure ratings and how to figure and understand pressure and what products to use and what products that should not be used on the plumbing system. It also teaches the plumber the ins and outs of installation best practices. I get the biggest kick talking to people who believe they are qualified to install plumbing and ask them plumbing questions. They cannot and will not answer yet they believe they should still be allowed to install the plumbing product.

A licensed plumber will have his or her own insurance. This insurance will include workers compensation and property damage. Hiring an unqualified unlicensed handyman to install plumbing work will cost you money. He or she may say they have insurance however the insurance will not pay for work that he is not qualified or licensed to do. Remember he is working outside the scope of his basic license to have a business. Your home owners insurance will be assessed. If he were to get injured while at your home whose insurance do you suppose will be affected? Due to him working outside the scope of his license and insurance coverage you can be sued and your insurance will pay for any injuries? Because young hired him he and his family can sue you if he was to get hurt so bad that he could no longer work. Do you think it is in your best interest to compromise on quality and qualifications? To save a few dollars today are you willing to risk your largest investment to hire unlicensed unqualified workers?

If you are unsure, ask to see the handyman’s license and insurance. The license will say what he is qualified to do and will specifically say plumbing if his license will cover plumbing work. His insurance will tell you what is covered. A state plumbing license in Florida will start with CFC; older licenses for the county will start out with RF. The state of Florida requires your company name to be located on your vehicle. A telltale red flag is when there is no name on the vehicle that informs what he does for a living.

Be safe and protect your largest invest hire only qualified license professionals to do work in your home or business. Anyone can make things look good on the surface. It is what is behind the wall that makes it special and long lasting. There are many television shows that show great looking remodel jobs only to discover they fall apart after a few years and no way to get reimbursed. Holmes on Holmes is a shows show based on unqualified people doing work they should never have attempted.

In Sarasota I have seen many butchered homes and work by handymen that think they can do plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work. By the time I am involved there is some type flooding and a lot of property damage done. It frequently ends up costing 2-4 times more to fix it properly and the handyman is hiding behind some tree. I feel so sorry for people that have paid good money to people that lied and cheated them out of a qualified licensed professional top do the proper job using the right materials. At least with a licensed individual you the home owner have recourse for actions against bad work. You can go through the state insurance division, State licensing department, local licensing department, reviews, BBB, and other resources to get restitution. With an unlicensed unqualified company you have no way to collect on a bad job. They do not care otherwise they would have the proper qualifications to do the job.

When you have a person that is ready and willing to do illegal work why would this person think twice about using inappropriate materials? Why would they care about you? They lied and cheated you by allowing you’re to believe they were legally approved to do this type work. This person is working by the monkey see monkey do theory and will not have the knowledge of why they are doing whatever it is they are doing.
I have a plumbing license how about hiring me to work as a lawyer. I gave a license you know. Its aright I will only take your money and do the best that I can. I’ve watched Matlock, Ironside, and a coup-le of other shows and remember I have a license. If that license won’t work I have my driver’s license too. When an unlicensed unqualified person is hired it is as dumb as what I have written. Please be careful today with which you choose to have working in your home. Protect yourself and your home against people who blatantly lied to you to get the work in the first place by telling you they ware qualified to do the work.

The Importance of Having a Conversation.

The Importance of Having a Conversation.

Years ago a company I worked for decided that they should have their service provider’s work certain zip codes divided into separate cities that may be 15 minutes apart. This did not always bestow the customer with the best possible service provider as none of the plumbers had the same skill, qualities, or were equal in their abilities.

One of my co –workers began enlightening me regarding a customer that is exceptionally challenging for him to move towards the right direction the last few times he had been to her home. I asked what you think is the issue and why do you think it is there. He told me that the customer was too busy watching her cooking shows to be bothered with him. What are your conversations like I asked? They do not exist. I am not interested in cooking and we have no common interests. Really what are some other interests she has? He reiterated cooking. She has a lot of cook books. I said ok what is the issue? I am not interested in cooking. I asked, are you interested in eating?

We arranged our scheduled at a time I could go with our plumber to visit the customer. The visit was fantastic as the customer gave us the same treatment that our plumber typically receives and I could experience firsthand what he must work around. Sure enough the customer was more involved with the cooking show on TV than our arrival or any reason we were at her home. This does not signify much other than I will need to build a door that we both can walk through. It does not mean she does not want help or that she does not need help. It does not indicate she is malicious or unkind. What it tells me is she has been taken in the past and does not trust people and must build a relationship on common ground.

Once we arrived I immediately noticed several book shelves filled with cook books, I walked into the kitchen and on an L shaped countertop cook books were lined up all around the L shaped countertop. I had to walk into her living room to get to the rest of the house and hallway and there were 2 more book shelves with cookbooks.

We went into the bathroom where the water closet was not working properly. I removed the bolt caps from the base of the bowl and noticed roots pushing up into the bolt holes. My co-worker has never thought to open the bolt covers to see what could be observed from that point. We had a pretty good view and with the history accumulated over the years from our visits and visits of other plumbers that a diagnosis could be made without going farther. Each of the other plumbers thought they were wasting their time because they could not reach this particular customer.

We went in to the living room. I sat down in the chair beside the customer. My co-worker sat down on the couch. I leaned back in the chair and made myself comfortable. I started to watch the cooking show with her. The television show had a young, nice looking chef explaining a good meal to prepare. I watched more of the show with the customer and she would look over at me to see what I was doing. She decided not to say anything so I watched more of the cooking show. I noticed the Chef’s name was Delaurentis.

I asked the customer if this lady’s father was the famous movie director that did a lot of movies and she said yes. I mentioned I did not know that he had any children. She then decided it was time to talk to me. So she turned her chair towards me, the volume on her TV still at a high level. So I asked if she had ever cooked any of the meals this Delaurentis cooked and if so how did it turn out. This time she decided to turn down the volume on her TV and pay attention to me. We started to have a conversation about the cooking show, other shows and how tasty foods are. I remembered a cooking show where the guy would throw spices and yell, BAM! Emerald I believe was the name of the chef. I explained to her that my wife and her mom are exceptional cooks and they experiment all the time with me and our children with different foods. She then decided to give me 5 cookbooks she has authored and published to give my wife and her Mom. So far so good and I have not talked about my non interest in cooking. Slowly we moved into why I was there and what was necessary to get rid of her problem and why she was experiencing the issue.

To make a long story short, there were roots that decided to grow between the concrete and the drainage system. The roots were drawn to the moisture which means it was drawn to the water in the bowl of the water closet. The roots grew into the bowl of the water closet and this meant the customer needed a new water closet. The water closet was also a 3 and half gallon water closet from the 70’s.While we are replacing the water closets what would it take to change the yucky faucet since we are here’s luck would have it here is a faucet for you to choose and this is the new china sink.

The difference between 2 service providers is huge even when it is inside the same company. There is a difference even though they share the same training. I wish there was a way to have the same level of skill. Frequently the level of skill installing or repairing products is extremely different even when it is a common repair. Some use channel locks others use smooth channel locks and still others may use crescent wrenches with the smooth jaws. Considering the differences in this category imagine the difference in communication with the use of buying words or engaging a customer too listen or suggest a call to action. Often times you may find it necessary to get the customer just to listen and if you cannot get them to listen you are trying to go upstream against the current without a paddle in a boat. Learn to listen, be willing to listen in order to converse with another person.

Every chance you get, learn to listen. Learn to ask questions and help shepherd the direction of the conversation. Once you learn how to direct the conversation you can now learn to engage with few words that influence. Once the conversation starts to wander you can bring it back to where it should belong. When you listen you gain wisdom, with wisdom you can now teach. When you teach your customer can now make a decision that is armed with good information.

Start having conversations with your customers and start having more enjoyable experiences with your customers that gives over the top service.

images of words

Practice Better Business

What is the real problem? Get it right


There are countless people that work in the construction service industry second guessing without ever understanding or knowing the real reason why there sales and customer relations is slipping or has fallen off a cliff. The company is still able to exist however the money it used to make is a distant memory of good time. Some of these companies are living check to check and a small setback is devastating and puts the company in a tailspin.

To blame outside forces for the shortcomings seems rather bizarre yet it seems perfectly normal speaking to owners in the construction industry. Somehow chest pumping and beating on the chest occurs and the outward message is the customer is a moron and there stupidity is causing you all this grief. It seems as if the construction service provider is stating you are not going to make a fool out of me. This attitude must stop. It does not matter where you speak to construction service providers whether it is on Face Book, LinkedIn or on professional trades sites the message is perfectly clear. How could it possibly be the person running the company, the company policy, culture or business practices that are producing these horrific results with customer service and reaction.

I find it amazing that so many construction service focus groups or those that train these service providers are afraid to speak up and inform them of the real reasons why consumers act and react to the service provider in this manner. They would rather give them a loud of crap that insinuates that they need to charge more money when other things are broken. I can teach you how to make more money but if you do not fix your attitude then it means you still have the problem with a little more money. The result will always be the same. It is so obvious that the horrible attitudes about your customers are holding you back and distracting you from the company’s goal. Start impacting where your business is heading by deciding to change the constant with all of your customers and that is YOU.

A typical service provider is scratching their head saying; let me see who I can blame. I know let me blame the laid off person that is installing products illegally and without a license knocking down my pricing is the problem. Now with that there must be additional people or circumstances that I can blame. Oh wait there is another; it has to be those who are supplying those illegal criminals doing unqualified work with merchandise such as home centers. Those dastardly cartoon characters called home centers are one of the main culprits that have conspired to hurt the local small business person. Watch out for the anvil to be dropped off the roof while you’re wandering aimlessly walking the sidewalk heading for skid row while complaining about the low life scum and not changing the direction of YOUR company is heading. Find people who will be honest with you and tell you straight up what the problem is.

C’mon now it is time to stop blaming others for your decision making. Isn’t it time that you take responsibility for the choices you give to our customer. Frequently the choices are 1. Choose to move forward 2. The customer moves on and chooses someone else to install a product. Not much of a choice is it? Why would the customer want or need to have you do this for him or her? What makes you a better candidate? Why choose you?

How could an unqualified unlicensed individual get the job that you could not get? How did that person influence the customer to choose them over you a licensed qualified person? By the way this is the correct question you should be asking yourself. What would possess a home owner to pick an unqualified person? A service provider that is license, insured, and skilled showed a paper that suggested someone would beat any price by 10%. They were so upset by this offer that it was distracting their ability to focus on their own responsibility. Research what ten percent really means. On a thousand dollar job 10 is only 100.00. Are you seriously suggesting that you cannot separate you and your company from unqualified, unlicensed personnel or from your competition? Newsflash outside competition is not the problem. Get away from yes people or people that tell you outside forces that you cannot control are determining your life. Step out of your own way and see that you are the problem. Understand the customer and you are not holding conversations most likely you are telling them what to do.

Do not blame the unqualified person for being cheaper. That is not the reason a customer left you to pick another. You were there prior to the cheaper person. The customer went from you to the cheaper unqualified and unlicensed person. WHY? Stop guessing why and start asking the customer why they are not using you.

They are not using you for a reason and that reason is you have not driven the want to use you. You have not hit their reasons to use you or to get the job completed. The reason not to use you is a simple reason you’re pounding your chest and begging the customer to “pick me” without giving them a rock solid reason why they should use you. Because you are licensed is like telling your child not to something because you said so. Start discovering some of the reasons why people use you, start knowing these reasons versus guessing.

Start knowing that you have terrific customers that want to work with you. They called you to with you. They scheduled the service call to work with you. Start giving them reasons to work with you once you give the solution. Get serious and get it right start holding conversations with your customers and communicating the solution in terminology the customer can understand.

Start explaining in concise and precise terminology the job scope, how payment will be collected, when payment is expected, and what methods are acceptable ways to receive payment. What exactly you will be doing and what others must do and how payment is affected and will it wait until all aspects of the job are completed. When it is written payment due at the completion of the job and a fence is laying on the ground completion of that job is not done. Your portion may be complete however fulfillment of the job is not complete. It is your job to write a proper contract. Start changing the only constant with every customers and that constant is sadly you. The distraction is you.

are your excuses larger than your dreams

Government mandate on water heaters

Behind the 8 ball
Commencing in April of 2015 all water heaters will become federally mandated to meet guaranteed and certified energy savings that will save you on your energy costs. Loosely translated this means and will affect all water heaters and specifically targets water heaters with a capacity of 50 gallons and above. What that means to you the consumer is you must surrender additional money to replace your water heater and to earn the energy savings.

All water heater manufacturers will be obliged to meet specific challenges with energy ratings that will match an energy percentage saved. A few years ago this was accomplished by switching from fiberglass insulation to foam insulation. To maintain certain specifications such as size to meet dimension limitations in condos and apartment buildings the manufacturers decided to decrease the volume of water in the tanks to keep the same size tank.

Simply stated a 40 gallon water heater decreased in volume from 40 to 38 gallons. To meet the new federally mandated water heaters any size below 50 gallons will either have to greatly decrease in the volume of water in order to fit size constraints and meet the energy demands. What this means to the consumer is all manufacturers will have to retool their companies? This means the cost of the smaller water heaters will increase dramatically conversely decrease in water capacity.

Larger electric water heaters will become a hybrid type heater. In order to meet the federally mandated energy rating a heat pump system must be installed on top of the heater. This will at least triple the cost of the heater plus install. In addition to this new requirement many of the local communities are demanding a permit and inspection be added to the cost of the water heater. This also includes an electrical permit to upgrade the electric to meet new codes. This means an electrician is now required. Keep in mind the plumbing company will need to have people on their staff take time to pull the permit, the cost of the permit will not be the cost at the permit office. Some areas are still in the 1900’s and do not use the computer as an effective office tool and this forces a company to physically send someone to the permit office and this at times can take hours. I have waited 4 hours in a permit office and someone is responsible to pay this added costs associated with water heater installs.

Our recommendation is to install water heaters today especially if your water heater is passed the factory warranty stage. Schedule your appointment with Bill the Plumber Inc. at 941-924-8418 to discuss the changes and whether or not you should replace your existing. Become proactive instead of reactive.

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