Category Archives: Selling HVAC

Choose the correct training.

images of words
Choose the correct training. I receive 35 emails on training

The conclusion of the New Year is amusing and at times hilarious in my appraisal. I revel in helping others reach a higher potential both as a person and professional increasing their earning potential.
During this time period there is definitely pressure to take the last few days of the year to gain as much business to boost profits for the year ending and to shove all kinds of training to different companies whether they need it or not. Get what you can this year and enjoy the deductions while getting preparing for the next year.

I am all about training and know it is essential. Without proper training you are spinning your tires in the mud. Decide to discover the real obstacles that are keeping you from reaching your potential. Blindly attacking every process within your company will overwhelm you and place you in a position to fail and believe the changes are the reason for failure. There are way too many contractors’ training companies that try to overhaul too many things at one time. You must eat the elephant one bite at a time. It Is essential to find out the portion of the company that requires treatment and fix the cause. Once that is accomplished whatever is next will help grow your company.

My specialty is growing income and increasing your earning potential. If your issue is spending increasing your dollars has not fixed the problem. What it did is add more money to spend on your spending issues. I can prove to any company they need to increase their earning potential and increase profitability. That is easy to prove and gain agreement. I am more interested in a healthy you and your company. Once you start to encounter the same problem you experienced in the past what good was the training I gave you to increase profits? The main illness was not treated. In your mind the training was horrible and wasted your time and effort.

Analyze your company. Hire a professional that can and will find the real issue and address the reason why your business is not where you think it should be positioned. The sales help companies are really good at what they do. They can build frenzy and have you fired up and ready to proceed and push the urgency to get it today. They need you to make that decision today. Why? Emotion sells.

You may discover that you require a complete business overhaul. I am not willing to place your company in a position without investigating a few business practices.I would definitely hire a local business coach to visit your company and then to evaluate from head to toes what is going on from business practices, dispatching, customer relations to how truthful your books are telling you where you stand. For this numbers are required but not the sole way to make a decision as numbers do not always tell the truth. Some areas to research are:

The first is hiring practices. Your work culture will make or break you. Whether you buy into a sales system does not matter when your plumber can not spell or complete a sentence. It is amazing how little training is set aside for this small but extremely important portion of your work culture. Communication and conversations will determine your success within the company and with your customers.

Second is what type of training, Speaking to plumbers and other trade professional’s there is a wide belief that sales are manipulation. This is because we demand a fast return on investment. The training is called persuasion and convincing which is part of manipulation but in a kinder way. However when push comes to shove and we place the spotlight it is good intentions done for the wrong reason is still wrong. But it is the fastest way to bring money into the company and teach people how to sell. Typically this is 2-4 day training. What training only takes 2-4 days to master? Sales are essential to increase profits. Discover the training and investigate what is best for your company.

Discover your overhead and why it is where it is. Find a way to bring your over head down. You do this by having the right per hour rate whether you are per hour or flat rate. Surround yourself with brighter people then you. Do not be afraid of hiring great people for fear they may leave you after they get experienced. You are as successful as those people who surround you. Hiring bodies that do not fit your company will kill the company

Choosing the right company is crucial .So many companies are choosing the training for the wrong reason. I received 35 emails from trainers offering me their training. The reason is there training is what will save our company, They never bothered to discover if we needed their type training or what was keeping us up at night. Their crustal ball told them our problem magically fit their solution without gathering information. They have never been off value to our company in the past and doubt that there training is a fit for us.
Behind the 8 ball
How do you determine the right company for you? I am going to point out a friend of mine. He was not a friend until I received emails from his company. The emails were of value and in the form of blogs that helped me with various business decisions. Some of the value material covered successful hiring practices. It showed me how to discover the customer’s real reason to buy and how to give proper options to the customer and in what order. Amazingly the free stuff given to me showed me how to prepare the solutions in a way that made sense to the customer, how to include customers in the decision while learning how to stop buyer’s remorse. I finally decided it was time to get to know this person and we made contact. It was then that he became a friend, his name is Joe Crisara. Joe is not the only guy out there like this, there are many to choose from. He is a fantastic role model with his presentation skills. Others would be Steve Corsica, Ellen Rohr, and Charlie Greer and there are others. Notice that these people are individuals and not huge resources.

You want to hook up with people that provide value to you before they make their sales pitch to you. We have 1 person we call and every time we call we are told to raise our prices without discovering what the issue is. This is of no value to me. I want to know a better way to increase our ability to increase booking of calls. Raising the rates will not provide that information. I will not call this person and the contact is not mine. I had a trainer write me to teach me how to negotiate with customers without giving up dollars. In his email sales pitch he gave me a discount if I were to choose his company. I am not sure this is the trainer to teach me how to negotiate if he is dropping his price on our initial contact.
What is information that is of value? Things that interest you with building your company this information makes you powerful and will increase your thought process making you more aware of your surroundings and where you want to visualize your company in the future. Your future begins today.

Interview this trainer via the phone. Have a set of questions you need to ask. Remember when you are with customers they ask the most bizarre question and make statements that make little to no sense. You need a trainer that will teach you how to react and respond to this customer. The training should help you with 20—25% of your customers the rest should make up their own minds and decide to use you based on trust and respect with likeability. The training should deal with that 20-25% not the 75% that do business with you already.

Now for non-traditional sales training in the trades I am going to say a few things about Practice Better Business. Most of the training is drawn from outside the traditional sales training given by those inside the construction sales training. By this it is drawn by those that have experience and expertise in sales . Cold calling techniques are included because we must learn to talk with customer via the phone that are out of state. We must visualize to the customer why you do what you are going to do. We must hold conversations that build mutual trust and respect. We are in a people business and we must learn to appreciate our customers and understand what they mean.

Choose the right trainer for your company. Choose the right reasons to choose and make the correct choice. Find a business coach that can help you diagnose your company and the areas that need a spoonful of sugar. Apply that medicine and watch your company grow by leaps and bounds.

Practice Better Business wished you a Happy New Year and decide to grow.


Too much time ,to many stupid excuses

clock time wasted

Too much time ,to many stupid excuses

I like talking to people. I enjoy speaking with peer professionals in my industry. I especially love to hold conversations with people in the construction trade industry that can open their mind to a different way of thinking. What I like more than anything is to have someone take an open hand to their face and start to rub their chin with hmmm I see. It almost becomes an “aha” moment with the person listening.

Conversely I cannot stand those in the industry that eagerly participate trashing and complaining their customers and potential customers. They seem to bad mouth quite a few of their customers that seem to change into horrible consumers. Why it seems to happen to these same people is a miracle as far as they are concerned. HOWEVER it is never them; it has to be the consumer.

The consumer decided to do the least expensive repair, the customer decided to play with the plumbers fix and caused the new/old leak. One female plumber in Virginia thinks a 90 year old woman is playing with old shutoffs. The plumber connected lavatory supply lines to the existing shutoff valves instead of installing new shutoffs. How ridiculous is it to think a 90 year old woman is crawling inside a cabinet and sabotaging shutoff valves inn order for her to come back to her home. At some point when will you realize that it is you that is the common denominator with each and every one of your customers? I am not implying that all troubled customers are a result of what you do however when the horse is staring at you, it is time to accept that you may be the problem that needs fixed.

I made a comment that we should discover budget. When those in the construction trades are asked to give quotes it is essential to discover budget.1 plumber stood up and thought he would put me in my place by stating that anytime he asks his customers about a budget they laugh at him and will never tell him. Asking for a budget is a silly time wasting project is what he should have said and given a reason why. Instead he decided to try and be a smart alec that had no reason to back his idea.

I would agree with him, if I asked you to tell me your budget of course you wouldn’t. I would not tell you if you asked me to tell you my budget or how much I am going to spend. Figure a different way to ask the question that allows you to gain an answer. Have a purpose with your questions. At times we must take the hat off our head and use it for something other than a hat rack. You must discover the budget, it is a guide to help you get from Point A to Point B. Sometimes people in the construction trades are way too literal and have a difficult time peering over the top of the proverbial box that contains their ideas. Many more are so stuck in their ways that they refuse to see a different way to ask.

One way to ask about a budget is: Have you given any thought to the plumbing fixtures? What have you chosen? That is great can you tell me why you went that route? Have you seen the new 1 piece Kohler power flush or whatever 1 piece water closet you think is better for that customer? Once you discover where your customer has looked at their fixtures you can discover why which leads to an answer about a budget. Another way is; is there a monetary constraint on your investment? Then ask questions about top end fixtures.

Then this plumber decided to attack in a different way, he said I do not want to be a pushy sales person I just want to plumb. No you don’t; if you wanted to plumb you would want to give your customer the best possible solution and if you refuse to sell them the best solution then you cannot possibly want to plumb.

To some this may sound a little angry, it is not. It is meant to get to the core problem of why our industry has dropped in reputation over the years. It is to get to the core point of why more home owners have decided to use non licensed unqualified personnel to do their plumbing work or any type construction service work in their home. I am at an age where I really do not care that some of those people in my profession are offended. It is time they started to realize there is a better way, they must open their mind and eyes and do something other than what they have done for years. A common response is Richard you seem to think there is only 1 way to do things. I take pity on you for saying something that is even more stupid than what you uttered earlier. It has nothing to do with my way as the only way. I have mentioned many other sales trainers that are very good, very progressive, and have systems that are available for you to grow your business with high integrity. Stop trying to discredit by trying to go in a different direction by reducing it to the ridiculous. I’ll call you out on your stupidity and your feelings will get hurt once again. I would rather hurt your feelings if that is the way to motivate you to at least take a look at a different direction to increase your earning potential. However if you refuse that is not my problem, it is yours. What do you have to lose?

But; if I become a sales person I will sell with less integrity and dishonesty. The statement is worded differently but it holds the same meaning. People that sell are crooks or over sell, sell things that do not need to be sold. If that is how you intend to sell you may be correct. However that is you not the sales method. Again stop making stupid statements that sound more like excuses.

Stop being the damaged goods in your company’s presentation. Start being the customer’s hero and go to person for information. Become the trusted advisor. Stop being afraid of the term sales person.

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.


Why the Indifference? Customer is standing their ground.

Don't fear change,change fear
Why the Indifference? Customer is standing their ground.

Start taking more upfront time. You’re experiencing buyer’s remorse. The reason the customer is feeling indifference. You arrived, looked at the job, priced it up, started work and collected and left. Badda bing customer has no reason to trust you and wants to call around and check your prices.

Up front time is the time you take to discover stuff out about your customer. It does not necessarily have to be about the plumbing issue, it can be personal stuff. If you’re unwilling to do this be sure you are able to talk to them about their home. Give them tips on how to prevent certain things from happening over and over.

Not everybody can discuss personal stuff. I would propose that you discover how to do this and then become comfortable doing this. My customers know they can tell me anything and frequently do. I can then also talk to them about what is going on in their life or what has gone on in their home in the past. This way I become knowledgeable with their home. They are MY customer and I am their faithful advisor. I understand and know what they want with repairs or replacements, I know what they will spend and how they will respond and react.

Very rarely should you have customer’s that price shop you after the job. Why: there is no reason to do that even though you may be in the top 5% of service providers. What the client receives is overwhelmingly worth more than the dollars he or she has spent in the past with others. Giving excellent service with solving their problems, better than that become fantastic at having people feel great after you leave. Customers do not care that you are a genius. Most of the service providers are and that explains exactly why a lot of plumbers/service providers lose jobs to home centers, handymen and unqualified unlicensed people. That is exactly why people question the prices a lot of plumbers give them before and after the job is complete. That is why people question the amount of time it takes instead of congratulating you on the skill and knowledge you possess. By the way when you lose jobs it is generally due to: things we do, don’t do, things we say, and don’t say. You do not lose the jobs to those other places and people, they do not take the jobs from us, and the job is lost by you. It is much easier to blame other than take responsibility.

Another reason why customers have issues with their service providers is the service provider did not listen or comprehend what they have read or heard. Then they refuse to confirm what they have read or heard. The other day I posted a picture of illegal work from an unqualified person that installed a water heater improperly. In the very first sentence I stated that code required an electrical upgrade that by law requires a qualified licensed Electrical Contractor. In the post was a shameless plug for the electricians company.

A plumber thought it was his business to post I would have at least installed an electrical piece on the water heater. Trying to pound his chest saying you did not do it correctly either. If this is done in a conversation with peers then it certainly happens when speaking to a customer. Here are the problems with the post. The piece was not enough to bring the connection to code, 2nd it as not about that plumber the article was on illegal and unqualified people doing illegal work. 3rd the first post said an electrical contractor was hired to bring it up to code and pull a permit why would a plumber do something with the electric when a licensed qualified electrician would be there to complete the work? Understand what you have heard or read and then make serious suggestions for the solution to the customer. A customer knows when you are not sincere or trying to aimlessly pursue conversation to try and convince him or her to move forward.

I enjoy real life and real world stories that illustrates precisely why our words affect and engage a customer to buy or to send you away. During a recent conversation concerning water heaters a plumber made a statement that she repaired water leaks above an older water heater. As soon as the customer started to write the check to pay for the job the she decided to replace the water heater. This plumber was bragging that she collected the repair and a brand new install of a water heater. In this conversation it was brought up that the water lines would have been included in the water heater install. The replacement heater had to be scheduled for a different day.

My question was simple, precise and concise. Why didn’t you present the replacement heater and repair at the same time and do they both that day? Next thing I knew this person responded by saying they do not use trickery and will not push a customer into making a decision. Nowhere in my question is an accusation of trickery or pushing anyone into a purchase. Nowhere in her response is acknowledgement that both the repair and replacement was given to the home owner.

This is an indication that service providers react versus thinking about a response. Then becoming defensive with their customer and over reacting. If a service provider becomes defensive like this with peers they become defensive with their customer and over reacting is normal. How you react is your history and what you practice, you are in real life. It is that simple.

What this service provider did was not wrong, the majority of service providers provide this kind of service to the majority of customers. It is what many of them were taught and have passed from 1 company to another. You learned from Joe who learned from Charlie who learned from Jim who learned from so and so. It is the way business is run and has run for many years.

Decide today to start a different process with your clients. Give them the best that you can give and start servicing your customers. You should be the best servant possible while giving the gifts that you have to the customer. These gifts are communication, smile, happy to be there with him or her. Start giving the customer real deserving solutions to their problems that prevent possible problems in the future. It is within your power to provide this to your clients


Practice Better Business

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

We must accept the consequences of our words

images of words
We must accept the consequences of our words

Have you ever experienced something that just pulled at you until you finally gave into it? This past week I have experienced just that thing. All week there has been something that has been pulling at me and screaming until I finally paid attention to the screams. Finally the deafening screams became loud and caught my awareness to put an action with the screams.

The original concept came to me when I heard a “you tube” video go viral on Victoria Osteen. She was explaining joy and you. I do believe her worlds got caught up in the frenzy. My interpretation of what she was expressing is God is joyful when we are joyful. God loves it when we are joyful; when you are joyful you can do amazing things. However it came out do it for you and not for God. Come to church for yourself and not God. My thought is if you go to church God is present and will find you. Any reason you go to church is fine with me as God should be present in a God based church.However some people are going off on her words and they should know better. I also know that we must take responsibility for our words. We must also be ready to accept the consequences of our words.

After I observed the video and then started to see the reaction towards Mrs. Osteen there was a natural obsession to want to know and learn more. I posted on Face Book and then I posted on LinkedIn. Amazingly on LinkedIn a poster told me I was not being professional for posting this on that site and that it could blow up and it did not belong on LinkedIn. It belonged on Facebook. As if LinkedIn is above reproach. There is far more drama and garbage on LinkedIn than a question asked about your thoughts on Victoria Osteen’s statement.

During the week a plumber asked a question concerning buyers’ remorse. Every plumber that responded with expectation of one and that 1 is me thought it was the customer that was off their rocker. More than 1 plumber has a belief that people are evil and conniving. Some of the plumbers believe that consumers plan this stuff out and are all about cheating the plumber. Not 1 of the other plumbers think it could have been what they had said or what they did not say that caused the buyer’s remorse. Anyone that has ever dealt with buyer’s remorse with customers will know that it is typically words that are spoken both verbally and non-verbally by the sales person/service provider.

Sunday the sermon spoke on how the tongue is powerful for such a small thing. It has the power to tear down, the power to start wars, the power to destroy reputations, the power to influence, start arguments, separate families, and hurt people emotionally. Amazing how words used can turn destructive without anyone knowing why or understanding words are the cause.

Every wonder why?

My beliefs are words are small, the tongue should not be taken so seriously but sadly it is. However it is not believed by people to be that powerful until it is researched and found to be the cause. I am amazed at how many people fear the spoken word from people. Many are afraid to speak out against other people’s words for fear of repercussions that can be hurled their way. These words can damage and destroy and most people do not want anything to do with the end result right or wrong. Words casn tear people down. It is extremely difficult to control a tongue given free reign.

The next thing that screamed at me to write something: faith with works. I can have silent faith and how will that witness to others that I have faith that works and performs those works? By letting it go and just sitting on the sidelines without getting in the game will not show my faith with works. Sitting on the sidelines, what does that project about me? How can I feel the way I do versus when I am in active and my works align with my words?

Your words have power. It can move people, motivate them to do things that they normally do not do. Your words can change minds. It may open a person’s mind to different possibilities. It may motivate some to think outside of their comfort zone and change direction. Words create your character. Words will back up your actions. Words can change the first impressions. Words can build people up.

Our words create followers that will become leaders of other people due to their words. I am positive that I do not want people to lead others that use their words to beat down and defeat another person. I want leaders that can say: the words spoken have meaning however the way it came out may not be the way that is exactly what is right and good. Give the benefit of the doubt when there is wiggle room for the benefit of doubt due to works in the past. At 58 years old I have experienced a few different decades that definitely showcased different ways to express behaviors that are were not acceptable behavior patterns. I used to say you are wrong and that would not hurt feelings but the way society babies people you must watch what you say and how you say it. He meaning of what you are saying is not caught but what you are doing and how it is done for some reason becomes the focal point versus what someone has done.

Words of Condemnation are harsh especially when it is over words having been: misspeak or a mistake. Become a builder instead of a destroyer. Explain and give the right information in order that a learning experience is now possible to lead to a better life and decision. Choose to change a life for better.

As easy as it is to have words change direction on a daily occurrence with any person at any time why is it so far off that this will happen during a sale with a consumer? As often as this happens I amazed that it does not happen more often in the service industry. Oh wait it does happen however most sales people will not recognize it as an occurrence and that qualifies customers as idiots. Imagine this you become a customer at some point and time and must be qualified as the same. It is time to start treating your customer as an intelligent honest trustworthy consumer that deserves your respect and start having a conversation and share information. It is time to start listening to the customer and hearing intent, content, and in the proper context.

It is time to open your mind and eyes and start to take notice that the majority of times that a sale does not go forward, buyer’s remorse, or any other excuse that we give for a consumer not to move forward. Is it possible that communication may be at the core of the resistance? Everything is ok until it’s not is a lyric from Michael Stanley and it is time to recognize that it is perhaps you that prevents the sale and the customer is waiting for you to tell them why you are correct.

Words are the cure. When you are searching for the truth, do not look inside yourself. Remember you are the one that is confused.power-of-words1


Practice Better Business

I am not sure what to call this article!

I am not sure what to call this article!
Silly statements and why

Frequently service providers have difficulty with customers that list on Angie’s list due to price. Many of the customer’s complaints and bad reviews on Angie’s List against companies on Angie’s list when investigated or researched you will discover it is more than a customer wanted to pay. Quite a few people will try and hold reviews against a company as blackmail. If you do not give me money back I will write a horrible review.

What I have noticed with the complaints is the job was completed by a well-mannered, intelligent, informative skilled professional. The consumer liked the individual that was sent by a company however the big bad company is evil. Keep in mind the service provider is a skilled professional where many have attended schooling to get their license. The cost of doing business is higher when you have a shop, multiple employees, and higher standard of living. The way a company conducts itself is also a cost of doing business. Great service is not for everyone yet everyone wants great service at the lowest possible price. Great service, high quality products, highly skilled professionals should never equal low price. Low price will equal going out of business after years of suffering chasing every dollar.

During a discussion concerning Angie’s list a couple of plumbing companies are defending Angie’s list and their defense is I have not had any issues with price and customers. Hello McFly, would you like to know what that means? It means you are one of the low priced companies and meet the low balling, prices that a vast majority of Angie’s list wants to pay. Included in the low balling price is the service fee which is low compared to others in their area? One of the companies I know is teetering on the edge of low ball due to some of the pricing they have divulged.

Researching reviews on yellow pages, Google, and other places will back up that price is a factor to many after the job has been completed. The reason price is a factor is value was not given by the seller where the buyer thought they were getting a deal. Some of the buyers will never be happy unless the product and service was given to them at the lowest price possible and nothing will make them happy. That is my job as a seller to discover this quality the buyer possesses. When the seller cannot unveil this quality or characteristic of the buyer both will be in for a long visit.

Plumber’s costs on materials do not vary much from 1 area of the country (USA) to the next from manufacturers. Shipping is relatively the same across the country and the places the manufacturers ship from maintain closeness to regions. What will vary are materials and their advertising strength. When I was in Ohio Delta Faucets were strong, in Florida Moen faucets had the market share. However the costs of the faucets are relatively close. The purchase price of products is similar across the country. Costs on materials will not vary however the main issue will be on labor and how companies pay their people. It drives me over the hill when people think it is ok to starve their help and expect more than what they can give because of the low pay. Your people deliver your value and when you devalue your employees how can you possibly expect them to deliver value to the customer?

Another silly comment that should never be stated is I’ve never spoken to an unhappy customer or I’ve never heard of one of my customers that are unhappy. A few simple questions are: how long have you been in business and in business any great length of time you know the truth is not spoken. 2nd how many of your customers have not called you back for a return trip. 68% of customers do not return due to indifference a statistic that Michael LeBoeuf PHD and author of How to win customers and Keep them for life. Before you open your mouth and insert foot think of all those customers you have served in the past that have not called you back due to how you made them feel.

Service providers must learn to become better business professionals and understand their true costs of doing business and then decide how to express the true rate to their customers. We as sellers must finally stop being afraid of our customers and start asking the cold hard questions that deliver the consumers perceived value as real value. Joe what is it that you really liked about today? What was the best thing for you today? Was there anything that we did today that was different than any other service provider? If so what was it? Isn’t it about time that you really found out why your customers have decided to with you instead of Joe’s down the street? Isn’t it time to find out what it is that turns your customers on and gives them permission to tell others about you? Isn’t it time to give over the top service and a fantastic customer experience and let people know what to expect from you? Start setting the customer expectation in your community. Step off the porch and start playing like a Big Dog and quit being afraid of being seen as influential. Stop dispensing the silly stuff and become a serious player in your community.

Business Practices: Locked in Chains Stuck in the ways of the past

Define success
Business Practices:
Locked in Chains Stuck in the ways of the past

There are times that I say things without thinking it out completely. Funny how sometimes things are said and then regret steps in only to give way to it’s not my problem. The person that the words are meant to inspire seem to agitate and stir a fire that ends up doing what it was intended to do and that is to reinvestigate the thought pattern and a routine that is no longer working.

Do you ask for forgiveness or is it better to ask permission? If it is for a good purpose why is either necessary? We are not fighting, I only want what is best for you today and tomorrow and researching it will improve and make a better tomorrow. If you and I are fighting then we are not winning we are definitely losing the battle of rock star rock solid business practices. When we blame others no one wins.

My job and it’s a major task is to make you think. I am here to change thoughts and the process that you deliberate. Hopefully you will see that perception is determined by where you sit. The perception when seen from a different perspective will frequently give you different results that were hidden by the first row of trees in the forest. I am going to steal a phrase; trouble with the curve.

I have seen people who have been doing the wrong thing for 30 years yet for some strange reason they have kept spinning the right lottery numbers and refuse to see anything different then what they have experienced. I’ve looked the same for well over 30 years however that does not mean I am a handsome individual. Just because something has worked for a long time does not mean it is the correct thing to do.

For me it is extremely difficult to watch a person travel down the wrong road thinking they are doing right. I know they can be doing so much better. The reason I know this, is the road I traveled is the same long and winding road they are speeding down without knowing what is up ahead.

There is no agenda for me giving you this information. There is nothing for me to gain when or if you were to implement different strategies that will increase your ability to create better and more business. It does very little for me when you increase your profitability. I know a company that has increased their tickets by 40%. This increase has not increased my profit nor has it increased the quality of my life.

What it has done for me is make me so proud of this company that they put their pride and ego aside to listen. When it made sense they were able to grasp how it could change their perspective which in turn could change their reality. What I gained is feeling good due to making a difference in the lives of many people.

Can I guarantee the same increase this company has enjoyed? The only way to guarantee success is to listen, learn, and then implement a new strategy. The next step is to commit to change, and then commit to staying with something that you know takes time. Some of you have been in business for generations. Bad habits have been collected over 20-30 years and to expect those to be gone over night would be like stealing a halo and thinking that all of the sudden you are a saint after being a sinner all your life. What I have to do to insure your success is to be available to you for questions and answers when you get stuck. Guess that means you are stuck with me and I am stuck with you.

Decide today that you want a better way of life. Decide today that change is necessary. Decide to research this change and find the resource that will best fit what you need. Get honest facts that give you the knowledge that when something is fixed that you will have decent profits that you can rely on to gain hope and secure your future.

Start today to communicate with a smile knowing that you have completed a job and it has been well done and well said. Understand and align the customer’s reasons to move forward and have happier over the top joyful customers that want to see you again soon. Keep in mind that it is no skin off my back to see you make profits and become successful. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Unlock those chains from the past and free yourself from the past. Start a new routine that will lead you down Success Avenue and Freedom Road at the crossroads of Leaving the past behind and forward to the future.Crossroads Yesterday Tomorrow dreamstime_16469710

Practice Better Business

Flat Rate And the Construction Service Industry

past  future
Flat Rate and the Construction Service Industry

I have been using some form of flat rate pricing since the 70’s. My father instructed and coached this system to plumbers in Ohio many years ago. He operated a (wholesale) plumbing warehouse and wanted to help his customers grow their business and be profitable. I must tip my hat to Frank Blau and George Brazil who passed away recently for their vision and foresight. Ever since Frank Blau and the group that had Contractors 2000 had a revelation to teach owners how to make more than 2% profit and then designed an educational process to tutor the plumber /service provider and turn them into a business professional. Then Nexstar arrived to take the service provider even further. Soon other companies followed to help educate the service provider and turn them into a business person.

Some people that oppose what started in the 80’s would like to point out that flat rate pricing is responsible for unethical people selling products and services for the wrong reasons. This is utterly false. The method in which they choose is just that a method. That is like blaming a fork and spoon for obese people or a gun for the moron that shoots someone or the car that a drunk wrecks. Whether it is flat rate or time and material dishonest people are dishonest. Taking multiple breaks while at a home owner’s home and charging by the hour is taking advantage of the consumer. Falsifying the time of arrival and time completed, adding parts that are hidden behind a wall are ways dishonest people will cheat the consumer. Flat rate or time and material are not the cause of people being dishonest.

Your work culture is what determines the ethics and integrity of a company. Hiring someone and keeping them on your books as they sell unethically is your fault, not the method. You cannot possibly blame the method when feel the damage they have done to your business and reputation. The horrible thing is you do not get the chance to see the damage because it is thrown it into the category of indifference. This label of indifference is anywhere from 40-65% of the customer base. This is a customer that leaves and never calls back and you never follow up with to discover how can I be of service or I have not heard from you and why that is? If we believe that each customer will do 6-7 grand worth of work in their lifetime (this seems low to me) why would you not follow up with each customer?

You the owner set the ethics, integrity and honesty of each individual on your team. You set the culture of the business. A plumber will set the actual starting time of your company. A plumber will set the venting/communication with dispatchers. Dispatchers should adapt to their plumbers and not force the plumber to adapt to their personality. Dispatchers should understand the money into the company is determined by how much the plumbers trust their dispatcher/s. There must be harmony between the customer call center and the plumbers. Harmony does not equate to emotional ties between the plumber and dispatcher. It is a business relationship. Once an emotional attachment is made there now exists a problem within the boundaries that will affect the profitability of a company. It will affect the ability to send the right plumber to the right customer.

The emotional ties despatcher typically has are with those that are not top performers. Due to the emotional ties the less than stellar performers will get calls that should go to top performers. When times are slow the dispatcher will make sure everyone has a call instead of giving the top performers the calls. The company no longer is running the insane asylum. Once a system is in place it is extremely difficult to break the system without getting rid of the players. Keep in the loop and understand what is happening in your company.

Flat rate = your cost of doing business + desired profit +desired lifestyle+ growth based on a billable hour.
Billable hour = how many hours in a normal 8 hour work day you are actually spending with a customer. Driving 3 hours a day and working 5. Your 8 hour day must be collected for too many companies throw away 3 hours a day. For the sake of easy math let’s say your 8 hour rate per hour should be 100 for a billable 5 hours times 160=800. 8 hours times 100=800 then add your products and mark up and make your own flat rate book.

There seems to be a lot of talk concerning flat rate and a pricing book. People have this misconception that a price book is the tool that is necessary to convince or persuade a home owner into moving forward. I would buy into this philosophy if my consumer were plumbers and understood exactly what they need or what is available to him or her. However they are not. The consumer is not a full trained plumber and will not understand why something works and will not work. Conversely some owners have this belief that not all things can be priced with flat rate system. This is also a false and a misleading statement. Know and understand how flat rate works and what you do and design a book to price the things you do.

Stop trying to spend the least to get the most. Start investing in your employees and help them become vested in you. Help them learn how to communicate with your customer. While educating him or her to communicate with your customers you will help them in more ways that you or your staff can imagine. You will start to enjoy a different level of cooperation within your staff, consumers, you, your spouse and family. You must stay committed and have goals in place to maintain the level of expectation in order for your company to stay profitable.

Typically people think they have this ability to communicate. They believe they have mastered communication. When in fact they have mastered the ability to annoy and possibly to meet other people. However it does not mean that the other people like or trust them in any way. The reason is the person that is doing all the talking is taking the conversation and making it about them and their experiences. They seem to always have a bigger and better story and will make sure everyone knows their story.

Stop trying to take control of every aspect of the conversation. It is time that you become the one asking questions and giving the opportunity to speak to the other person. This allows you to understand and get to know the other person while discovering information that can help you help him or her. This will give you the opportunity to give the customer information concerning the solution and price before the job starts that aligns with their reasons to buy. This gives you an approval before you start and agreement on the solution and a level of commitment from the consumer and you to one another.

Flat Rate demands a different level of communication that requires mutual trust and respect from the buyer and seller. Flat Rate pricing demands that you the professional step up the customer service and expectation to a higher standard that separates you from the common service provider. Flat Rate demands that you are more than just a plumber, Hvac, electrician and develop customer relationships. Decide today to be better at what you do.

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