Category Archives: service industry

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.


Walking the High Wire Hiring People to Work in your Home?

water heater on fire

Walking the High Wire Hiring People to Work in your Home?

Saving what seems like pennies on the dollar while trading your safety and or the safety of your family for a few dollars today has never and will never be money wisely saved. For some strange reason consumers have this belief that licensed professionals in the construction service trade services is not entirely necessary to ensure a correct installation. Where this belief is born is a mystery.

It takes a lifetime to learn the trades. Traditionally apprenticeship school is a 4-5 year investment in higher education. The same time required as major colleges to receive a degree. In many cases the requirements are much tougher for the apprentice than a college student. The idea that a person is given the keys to a van and now you’re a plumber is false. The industry is ever changing and it is necessary to keep up with continuing education to keep up with code changes, new products, and concepts.

I find it odd that a home owner would decide to use a less qualified person to do work in their home or business. I do understand the home owner is not privileged to know and understand everything that is involved. It appears easier than it really is. The advent of home centers and DIY’s shops that say visit us for 30 minutes to learn how to install a faucet is a mistake. It takes more than 30 minutes to know and understand that you need supply a line that will carry more than 100 psi and why that is true. I have never met a person that learned the trade in 30 minutes and master that trade. Why a p-trap is required and what does it do cannot be learned in 30 minutes or less. Monkey see, monkey do, has never been a qualifier to say that you can do the work. Just because you can does not mean you should.

Did you know when you hire an unqualified and unlicensed person to do work in your home you the home owner now take over the responsibility to cover workman’s comp? If this person gets hurt doing a job you are paying them for you are responsible. You cover all of the hospital bills or possibly workman’s comp to pay for their hurt back for the rest of their life. If for some reason damage to your property occurs you are responsible for the insurance to cover the damage or payment if your insurance company does not cover the person you hired illegally.

Try collecting money from an unqualified or unlicensed person when things go awry. Better yet try finding them to get it take care of the problem. Chances are huge that they do not have the money to make things right or else they would get their licensed, be properly insured, and qualified to do the work. No insurance will cover fraud and doing work without a license or insurance is fraud. You trust a person that has started the relationship with a lie and criminal intent. They have a catch me if you can mentality and you the consumer are left holding the bag. All this risk for a few dollars saved. Is it really worth it to you to throw the dice up against the wall in an alleyway?

Examples of consumers making horrible decisions:
A home owner decided to purchase a water heater from a local home center. The home center provided the consumer with a person to do the installation. The price for the water heater and installation are extremely low and this means there I no room for mistakes concerning the installation. It so happens that this area requires a permit. When the water heater is located in the living space of a home a pan to catch small leaks is also required. The price quoted did not cover the cost of a permit or a new installation of a pan and drain line.

The reason a new water heater was required is and get this a faulty installation that caused an electrical problem. This problem required the tenant to call the fire department as it was on fire. The person the owner contracted to do the original installation did not follow the code, pull a permit, and was unqualified to do the installation. The owner of the property chose to act the same way and hire a person the home center recommended. 1 close call is not enough and this home owner may need the property to burn down before he decides to become responsible.

Once again the home owner trusts a company that does not care about the home, or the safety of the people in that home. Their only interest is collecting a small amount of money from the home owner. The big home center does not care that the heater they sold is properly installed or that code requirements are followed. They never informed the home owner to the regulations required to install the water heater.

Home Depot and Lowes should not be allowed to sell these type fixtures. They are not qualified to sell the merchandise. They are not qualified to explain to the home owner what is involved for the proper installation. I am not sure they even know the guidelines that are required to install water heaters. The money that is paid to do their installations does not provide enough income to the installer to make sure all the requirements are fulfilled. The idea is to get there install and get out as fast as possible. It is a let the buyer beware without the buyer being aware of the consequences to an inefficient and improper installation.

This is not the first instance with a home center that sold the wrong equipment. Not too long ago a home center sold a conventional gas water heater and vented the heater out the side wall of a garage. The carbon monoxide traveled directly to the eaves and into the attic. The saving to the home owner for this heater over the correct water heater is roughly 3 times less. However the chance of the home owner becoming ill or possibly dying from carbon monoxide increased 100 times. The person installing the heater did not understand why a different type heater is required in this instance from a standard water heater.

I am here to inform you that your health and safety means more to me. When I know of a circumstance where illegal work by unqualified or cheating licensed contractors is occurring you will be turned into the proper authorities. This also means home owners that hire unqualified personnel to do the work. Your stupidity not only affects the people in the home but those that surround the home, family, and friends. Your actions shed a horrible light on the industry and pose a safety problem to the public.

I am calling on all professional licensed contractors to do the same. This includes turning into the authorities licensed contractors that neglect to pull permits when required to pull them. You are not saving the home owner anything when you do not. A permit and inspection proves that the home owner has a job that is completed that is safe. It is 3rd party protection for the home owner. When the home owner sells the property the new owner is assured that the work was completed properly. This eliminates the possibility of placing money in escrow to cover any type work that has become an epidemic such as pin-hole leaks in copper piping a few years back.

Take that gun from your forehead and hire licensed qualified professionals that stand behind their work. It is well worth the peace of mind that if something were to go wrong they will be there to protect you. It is their license and insurance on the line to ensure that codes are followed and you receive the best possible job. Pay a little more today for a lifetime of knowing you are safe.

Become a Moment Maker


Become a Moment Maker

Something that amazes me beyond belief is the distaste, discourse, and disfavor many construction service trades owners have for their customers. They distrust the customer and have this belief that the consumer is out to get them and make them lose money. It appears an overwhelming number of contractors believe the customer has little to no loyalty and there is no way they will give loyalty to their customer. There is a belief the customer is spending their time waiting for them, devising a plan to screw the service provider.

These contractors hold an overpowering animosity towards their customer’s due sick sense of thinking the customer is cheap. They must want a cheap fix to a problem where a cheap fix is not available. What this means is the contractor must be at bare bones to sell the job. There is resentment that the customer will not allow the contractor to make the proper amount of money to be happy because the customer cannot make the right choice.

I have never met a customer that has the power to set standards in pricing for any type business. I have never met a customer that controls a business’s overhead. I have never met a customer that dictates what employees should earn. I have never met a customer that knew what I was going to suggest. I have never met a customer that expected a person like me at their doorstep. The exception to that are the customers I have served in the past and know what to expect. I have never met a customer that controls my happiness.

It is not your client’s fault that you are not making the proper amount of money. It is not your customers fault they are choosing the cheap fix over a recommended product. It is not your customer’s fault that your expectations and standards are low. It is not your customer’s fault that you do not charge enough to make a good living. It is not your customer’s fault that you do not respect the customer. It is not your customer’s fault that you do not trust the customer. It is not your customer’s fault that you live a life of sorrow and regret. It is not your customer’s fault that you have a screwed up attitude.

Today is the day that you will change your attitude and perception of your customers. Start liking your customers and receive amazing results. Start looking at your customer from a different point of view and you will seem astonishing affirmations. Start trusting your customers that they will make the right decision and choices because you gave them better choices. Start respecting your customers and allow them to help with the solution and diagnostics.

Take a simplistic view to facilitate astronomical changes that make a difference. Stop giving your customer the bare minimum choice and stop trying to convince the customer that the bare minimum selection will take care of the problem. The bare minimum has and will never be a long term fix for the problem. You give it because you have so little faith in your customer. You give it because you fear the chance to hear no. You fear success and refuse to provide and contribute good rock-solid reasons why the better fix is superior for the customer tomorrow.

It is time to stop fearing the word no and to start ask why. You are the expert. You are the professional and when you give a bare bones fix the customer believes that it will take care of their problem. If it is going to take care of my problem why would I pick the higher price fix? The key to success is the phrase to take care of my problem. When I am informed that this fix will only get me by and or for a short period of time and will cost me more money in the near future it then is your duty and responsibility to give me a permanent fix.

When I am a customer I am not a scary person. I want what is best for me and my family. Your customer is exactly the same way. They want a good fix. You must have the fortitude to present the better fix and explain why it is better. Start taking responsibility for your customer’s reaction to your lousy attitude and presentation. The customer is not broken, you are broken and in dire need of repair. The fix is easy however implementation is extremely difficult.

Man all I want of my customers is to take a long car ride with me. The visit is what you make it. Decide today to make it a pleasurable car ride. Play games, have fun, and enjoy the ride. You do this by looking at the service call a little bit differently than you have in the past. It is an opportunity. The plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians that will say; see this is about how much you can get from your customer are also the same people who complain about the customer. They are also the ones who have no idea what opportunities are available to them with each and every customer.

When I am with a customer I feel a good time coming on. The reason for the good time is the human experience. The opportunity is helping, serving, enhancing, and making a difference in people’s lives. To solve a customer’s problem and in the mean time you get the chance to increase the opportunity to meet fascinating people and share their stories. How can anyone top this amazing journey? The ability to take people with you on this journey is immense and unforgettable. This is my life and I am lucky to live it.

You have a fantastic opportunity to think of your customers as friends. You have the opportunity to introduce heroes to other heroes. A customer facing difficulties in their life, you have the ability to help them and put them in touch with other people who have lived through the same difficulties and become a difference maker. You have the opportunity to help your customers business grow by giving those people that need their services to them. You have the opportunity to become the customers go to person for any referral or number 1 problem solver.

In the construction service trades we get the chance to meet all types of people from all walks of life. From World War II heroes to the everyday heroes that were put into extraordinary situations. You get to meet exceptional moms and dads that give their children everything they have. You get to meet CEO’s of large corporations to the welder at the auto mechanics shop to the door to door sales person. You get to see people at their happiest moments and conversely you get to see people at their saddest moments. The point is you get to take part in hundreds if not thousands of people’s moments and change history. There are moments in a lifetime and a lifetime of moments waiting there for you.

It is your choice. You can be a moment maker or you can be a closed door chaser that has a miserable life with miserable people paying you. You decide. Your attitude determines your outlook. Will you decide to have fun and enjoy your customers or will you decide to look at the negative aspects that drive your process. Is your emotion homeless or will your emotion be lost in a mansion of life and living. Live and love a little harder to drive your ambition to help, serve, and make a difference in your customer’s life. Let those that wish to take those magical moments and have explosive joyfulness during your work day and for those who do not par take say have a good day.
Start today and Practice Better Business
Richard Hilliard

Transforming, Transferring, Translating = Profitability

4P-BASIC items for improvement

Transforming, Transferring, Translating = Profitability

As a plumbing, Hvac, or electrical owner do you wake up in the morning and open your eyes hoping your day will be different from yesterday? Are you wishing your phone will ring? Are you rolling your eyes and thinking here we go again when the phone does ring? Are you ready to take that train ride right off the tracks? Does it seem like your good intentions are blazing a trail to dreadful results?

Are you running out of time? Are you running out of money? Are the hours getting late? Are you thinking what do I have to do? Better yet what are you doing about it? Is your recourse I do not have the money and you’re so broke that you cannot pay attention? Is it getting to the point that you do not have enough change that you cannot change your mind? Are you tired of what is holding you back?

It is the economy stupid. Would you like and want to change your economy? Do you want to scream; cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war? You are in a war of sorts. It is a war to keep your business. Right now it may seem like no one comes out alive and your stuck like Hotel California where you can enter but cannot leave.

I am here to tell you that you must take that ride. The car door is open but no one rides for free. Take that long walk off the front porch and play with the big dogs. Compete with the big dogs. One man shops can compete with the big dog shops. The best thing is you can choose to work and for the right amount. Will you follow when you should lead?

The thing that is holding you back is you. Is it time to look in the mirror? When you do look in the mirror do you like what you see? One thing to remember is everyone has been in the same place at one time or another. The difference is placing an action to create different results. Producing the same events every day will give you the same results on a daily basis. What will change those results?

We all like the shiny things, the gold and silver. It will not come if you just sit there and wait for it to happen. It is time to stop waiting for that moment to happen and start to make your moments happen. Be a moment maker. Do you ever wonder what could happen if just for 1 minute you decided to change 1 thing a day? What is the first thing that you would modify?

The transformation will not represent foolish choices. The modification will signify definite and resolute changes that will revolutionize the way you think. The time is now and it is calling for an attitude shift. Start by removing the obstacle of a lousy economy as a reason that you are failing. By accepting this is a lousy economy you have accepted that you have lost the ability to change your stars. A slight movement towards communication will pay huge dividends and give you a large return on your small investment.

One step at a time until you have moved both feet from your area of comfort that has been creating the most discomfort. Start with an evolution of your attitude towards your economy. Towards your customers and your purpose.

Practice Better Business

Before the Presentation


Before the Presentation

Before the Presentation

What is a sales presentation? What do you present? How do you present? When do you present? How do you decide the material to include in your presentation? How important is your presentation?

The presentation is often overlooked within the “business to consumer “sales world. This is one of the most important aspects of the sales process. Many people assume that all that must be accomplished with the customer is here is what you need. What is stopping you from completing this? From health and wellness, car sales, to the construction trades and everything in between fails miserably with the presentation.

It appears that the concept from these business people is; I am the expert why are you not listening to me? Did you hear me? Especially with the service construction trades such as plumbing, HVAC, or electrical the presentation is lost or disregarded and more emphasis is placed on being the authority figure /expert.

When a customer does not have faith or belief in you, your authority level, or expert opinion will not matter. Your ability to influence is greatly diminished. Learn to communicate with confidence and give reassurance that you are the right person for the job. The customer mjust know and understand that you are the best person for him or her.

Your presentation starts at the very beginning. The initial phone conversation with your CSR establishes the first professional contact and will go a long way with determining the customer’s willingness to participate with you.

Next is the way that you portray your professionalism. The way you hold yourself and communicate with your customer will determine immediately if the customer will decide to listen to you or tune you out. Once you’re tuned out the customer will question your price and ability to do the job. You will believe that the customer only wants the inexpensive fix. The real truth is the customer wants you out of their home. The customer also wants their product fixed. What this means is you fix the problem with a cheap fix that may not last and most likely will not last long.

The presentation includes your up-front time that you may call discovery time. This is the time where you discover what is making your customer tic and it is the time for the customer to become comfortable with you. Discover everything that you possibly can discover about your customer. During this time it will not matter if you are learning more about your customer or their issue that they are experiencing at this time.

The chief goal is to unearth out why the customer has called you at this time. What is driving the customer to get this taken care of now? Why not yesterday or tomorrow? Something happened that finally forced the customer to call you and set the service appointment. Repeatedly you will discover that it is not the broken down product that made them call today.

Regularly the service technician believes the problem is the product needs fixed. It is broken and I can save you money by fixing it today. Get a real grip people. If that was the real reason someone would have fixed the issue when it originally broke down. Many times people that become customers have had the issue for a very long time. They get used to it working the way it works. Why is it no longer convenient?

At some point you will present a price however the time is not now. People will have a price point no doubt about it however the service technician cannot and should not make that a central point of their presentation. At this point in time you do not know or understand what it is the customer wants. They may think they want it repaired. They may not understand how easy it is to change or replace. They may not know what is available to replace the product or if there is a superior and more reliable product for their use. You have not explained what can be done other than the inexpensive repair that you think the customer wants. The significant point is you think you know when the strategic point is you should know exactly what the customer wants or needs.

What precisely is it the customer wants? What selections will the customer know are possibilities to him or her? Will the customer understand without me informing him or her that the 2 things necessary to make a solid repair is equal to or is a little less than a replacement? What parts are warrantied and what guarantee is made with the rest of the product before it totally fails? What is in the best interests of the customer? You’re at the point now that you understand what the customer wants, and your up-front time explained why they want the issue taken care of.

You are still not ready to present. You must discover what other things the customer may want from this product. This means it is essential to discover how the customer wants it to work. The questions you should be asking will help you discover any and all other uses for this particular product. Using a kitchen sink as an example; the customer catches and cooks a lot of fish. Wouldn’t it be great if the customer had a cutting board that fit on his or her sink? This would allow the mess to be contained in or at the kitchen sink verse the kitchen counter .I know this would be an asset for the homeowner. You are saving the customer from having to clean the counter which saves time and effort. The cutting board might be of interest to any person that puts in a lot of time and preparation to cook. Without asking the right questions you cannot help the customer in their best interest.

The presentation is still waiting on the sidelines. What else can you do for your customer while you are there? How else can you help him or her? Once you have discovered everything that you can do for the customer you are ready to present the solutions.

What to do with objections and closings.

Behind the 8 ball
What to do with objections and closings.

I have unique and interesting way to work with consumers in the Plumbing Industry. The conventional training that is available is alright and is a necessary step to learn the very basics of selling.

It is critical to know how to answer, overcome, and beat back objections. It is also essential to have the ability and knowledge to close the sale. Without these 2 skills the status quo concerning running a business will always remain the same as it was and you will enjoy the same results that you are experiencing yesterday and today.

Once you have this knowledge it is a prerequisite to take this step a lot farther. Cute phrases may work 1 time with a customer and due to a long time business relationship they will have discover the simple concept your company employs. Answering with cute phrases hardly ever bypasses buyers’ remorse.

This is my 1st difference that separates what I do from conventional sales training in the construction industry. The concept to learn how to answer, beat back and overcome objections is to help you identify common objections. Once you start to identify the common objections you now can design steps to prevent these objections from rearing their ugly presence.

The objective is to take common objections and turn them into exact, precise, and concise reasons to own. To do this you must understand why you received the objections from your customer. What happened during the process that lead the customer down that road to stall or call you on something you have said or did not say? Why did the customer respond, act, and react the way they did? There is always a reason why a client acts or responds in the way they do. Whether you want to admit it or not you have acted and reacted in this manner at some time in the past. Why would you expect any less from your customer?

Getting the sale is often considered closing the sale. My belief is we are not closing a sale we are starting a new relationship. That new relationship is to build towards a future long term relationship. This is a subject all of its own.

You must know how to ask for the sale. Many sales are lost due to not asking the customer if they want what you have offered. Learning how to ask the customer to act and purchase your products will help you get the desired price that you need to run a profitable business.

Once you have learned to close sales there is another requirement and that is to treat the closing differently. The closing is not a separate event. What you do in the beginning is a major part of the closing of the sale. This is the 2nd difference I advocate from conventional sales training in the construction industry

This is by far the biggest difference between my system and traditional construction sales training. I ask more from you to learn more about sales and eventually your sale process and presentation will guide your customer to a progression of consent seeking a natural conclusion to use you.

Traditional sales training asks you to diagnose the problem and then present your solution. Frequently you are asked to talk to the customer questions about something you have observed in the home such as a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, old car in the garage, beautiful yard work. Customers see right through this insincere communication that serves very little purpose. A volley of a couple of questions about the topic and the service representative is on their way to seeking approval of their solution. When a customer disapproves of the presentation or solution you are taught to repeat the steps exactly the same. When a customer does not understand or accept your original proposal how will they understand it when you repeat the whole thing back to him or her?

Try having a conversation with a customer. Your questions must engage the customer and receive more than 1 or 2 volleys back and forth. The customer must become comfortable with you. Once comfort is gained trust and respect soon follow. Once these items are gained you will have a pathway to discover why the customer wants or needs the job completed.

Regularly in the construction trades the service representative believes they are there to fix something that is broken down. It is automatically assumed that the service person must hit on how much money is saved by repairing the product. (Utility bill) The home owner is reminded that the product is broken and needs fixed.

Rarely will you enter a home where the homeowner has called immediately after a product has failed. Something else drove the customer to call and finally want to take care of the problem. Discover this something else and align that reason to your solution. You must use the customer’s reasons to get stuff done verse guessing what you think is the reason the customer wants to get the job completed.

Decide to start today and allow your customer to become vested and included in the solution to their problem. When your customer is involved it will increase the probability they understand and accept the solution. Start giving the customer what he or she wants and needs.

Word of Mouth Marketing; Take a Look Around and See What You can See




Word of Mouth Marketing; Take a Look Around and See What You can See


The past 3 years have been exciting as I rediscovered word of mouth marketing. When I discover something interesting I jump into it feet first. Typically it will travel in 3 directions with me. The first stage is observing /researching, and then it moves towards implementing and experimentation with the stuff you/I have observed, and finally jumping in and setting up a plan. People base all decisions on 3 things. These 3 things are;

1. What they have heard

2. What they have seen

3. What they have done

Word of mouth marketing or referrals is based on what they have heard.


Some of the things I have ascertained are:

  1. What do I want out of it
  2. What kind of referrals do I want
  3. What kind of referrals will I want to give


All 3 are very much related. We join networking groups for 1 main reason and that is to grow our business. How we choose to grow our business is where this becomes tricky. This most effective way to grow your business with word of mouth is what I can do for you.


This means; what you are willing to do to help another grow their business before you ask for business in return? This is where a plan is necessary to set in place and stick to the plan to have success in the future. Too many people expect immediate return on their investment. Word of mouth marketing is a different beast and will take time to develop. Relationships are required and time is the key to building relationships of mutual trust and respect. Decide and determine the route you will travel to build mutual trust and respect with your referral partners.


What kind of referrals do you want to receive? Common sense dictates that you want to receive referrals where the potential client is ready, willing, and able. This means the referral partner is doing more than passing out a business card or saying something similar to I know a guy that knows a guy that does this. The customer should know and understand how your referral partner operates as a company. The potential customer should know who you are and how you treat customers. He is a nice guy or she is a wonderful person is not a strong referral.


The potential customer should:

  1. Be expecting a call or calling the referred
  2. Should know a little about the company and that person being referred
  3. Should understand what will happen during the service or transaction

If these things are not known it is nothing more than a cold call and in most cases is a worthless referral. Cold calling produces less than 20% in closed business. If you do not want this type referral than stop or do not give these type referrals unless your referral partner asks for them. These type referrals produce less than desired results and will create difficulty with you and your referral partner. You the referrer lose trust and respect.


When you receive complaints from your customers about your referral you may need to look inward to your referring process. You must schedule more 1 to 1’s or face time with that referral partner to discover how you can refer them better to your customer’s. Frequently a complaint that is expressed towards a referral partner is not the fault of the referral partner but the way we described our referral partner to the customer. You/I need to do a better job with our referral methods. Determine your plan and what type referrals you want and give those same considerations to your referral partners. Do you want someone that wants to beat your price down or someone who is willing to do business with you, ready willing, and able?


Do I want to be known for being referral King or Queen or do I want to be known and recognized as giving solid referrals that result in closed business? Personally I want to be known for giving solid referrals that result in close business for the price the referral partner requires. I have met many referral Kings and Queens however people cringe at the referrals they give. Be that person that everybody looks forward to receiving each and every referral.


This does not necessarily mean that each referral must be red hot and the customer wanted to move forward yesterday. Our job is to motivate our customers to ask you/me who we know. We must relay to our referral partners what the customer is like. It is all about motives, moods, and personalities. Referring your customer without giving this information to your referral partner is a mistake and is a best guess for your referral partner. The more information you give your referral partner concerning your customer increases the level of customer satisfaction with your referral partner and you.


I am a plumber and a weak referral is; call this person she has a leak somewhere. I told her I know a plumber. A fantastic thing to do with customers that are a referral is too ask him or her what did John Doe say about me? Ask yourself this question; what would my customer say?



Are you working a plan? Are you giving the same type referrals you want to give? What will your referral partners say about the type referrals you give them? How strong a referral are you giving? Are the referrals you give resulting in closed business without negotiating? Decide today to start  to shine and be a welcomed resource for your referral partners and your customers.

Presenting Solutions to the Customer; Be Concise, Precise, Definite

Presenting Solutions to the Customer; Be Concise, Precise, Definite


I am never amazed at how little is known concerning the presentation of solutions within the construction trade services. At the same time it is really cool to see how people operate business especially in the Plumbing Industry.  In a recent discussion concerning warranties it strayed into drain cleaning and hydro scrubbing a drain line. Hydro scrubbing a drain is the use of high pressure water to clean the inside of a waste pipe.


It started out how anyone can warranty a drainage system that is abused by the home owner or tenant. Then someone started throwing hypothesizes that cover such a small percentage of anyone’s customers. It was concerning the customer that tries to take advantage of you the business owner. Next in line came a flurry of excuses why you cannot and should not warranty the work.


Very few if any understand that you must make the proper diagnosis in order to warranty the solution. A few plumbers stated that they cannot warranty defective and compromised piping. They could not warranty the wrong fittings installed by someone in the past. Frequently a drain line will have back pitch or a bow in the line that is causing the problem. Then the surprising line that some fittings such as an offset just cannot be cleared and may cause bumps down the line. I waited and it finally came, I cannot warranty when it will not get as clean as it should.


All of the above situations will not warrant hydro scrubbing as the proper solution. The proper diagnostics in the above situations is to replace the defective or bad situation. To diagnose the cause of the problem is our job. To diagnose a Band-Aid solution is not the right diagnostics. The customer must understand and know that the real solution is to replace the bad section of pipe and or fittings. The customer must commit to the real problem and solution. However the plumber must have the ability to communicate to the customer the cause and how to cure the cause. This will not mean the customer will accept or reject the proposal. It will not mean the customer will automatically do the right thing.


When the customer cannot afford the true solution and must buy time in order to afford the proper correction then an alternative should be given with the understanding you are buying time to do the right chocie. The plumber must stop fearing the customer. They present the solution then say immediately we can hydro scrub the line to take care of it. The customer assumes the job that is about to be completed will prevent it from occurring again. When it does happen and we all know it will trouble ensues. Of course the customer is upset with you and of course they will try to get free warranty work from you.  The customer deserves the free work from you. You did not present the proper solution and quickly went to a solution that would not cost as much because you were afraid to hear NO.


Who cares if the customer states NO. No is not that big of a deal. Discover why the customer said no. Discover why the customer cannot afford the proper solution. You may discover a way to help the customer afford the right choice. It never is wise to have a customer settle on second best, when it is not a close second best or the customer does not understand the 2nd choice will not get rid of the problem. You must explain why this solution will not get rid of the problem and the customer must commit to the explanation and understand the repercussions of choosing this method. It is when the repercussions are not understood that a problem will arise when the same situation reappears.


It is time to learn how to present the proper solution. I will use as an example building sewer as the problem. The problem is structural and not just a buildup of organic material or scale. It could be bows, back pitch, compromised piping or fittings that are the problem and causing the stoppages. The building sewer is located between the home and the utility sewer lateral. When it is neglect of the building sewer the proposal will look different then the below.


The proper solution should appear as;

1. Replace Building sewer under this heading there should be all the bullet points that explain why this is the perfect solution and the benefit to the customer to follow this solution. There should be a note on the negative side of this solution and that negative is the expense of the solution. This will allow you to warranty the whole piping system from the house to the lateral.

2. Replace section of Building Sewer that is causing the issue. The bullet points to this solution should include the explanation of why the number 1 solution is the best overall choice and then why this is the 2nd best choice. This choice will give you the opportunity to warranty this section of the piping system only. Again there should be an explanation of the negative side of this solution  which is the rest of the system is as old as this section and may  eventually have the same issue arrive.  This may also have an expense as a negative.

3. Hydro scrubbing this should include an explanation of this proposal is temporary and will buy time until the customer can discover financing to do number 1 or 2. This is not the final solution or permanent solution. Explain that the amount of time cannot be calculated depending on the compromised piping and fittings. The positive to this proposal is it will buy time before the action of number 1 or 2 must take place.

4. Drain cleaning with an electronic drain machine. The explanation for this proposal is the same as above and will not be as thorough as number 3 and will give less time than number 3.

5. Doing nothing this is self-explanatory.


Frequently the plumber forgets to include or speak enough about number 1 and 2 and quickly jumps to number 3 and 4. The plumber is afraid or misreads the customer due to their own thinking or the customer’s statements.  This reinforces the concept the customer must commit to the real problem and the right choice. You must gain this commitment before jumping to the rest of the proposal. Jumping prematurely will give the customer a belief that you are not confident in your permanent solution. The customer does not fully understand the differences and will think that number 3 and 4 is sufficient. There is not enough upfront time to completely build confidence, mutual trust and respect and this must be gained before presenting the solutions.


Too often the plumber believes that trust and respect is given when in fact it is still in the building stages. Too often construction trade organizations/guru make this wild statement that trust and respect is built in the first few minutes. What is discovered in the first few minutes is a decision to listen to you or blow you off.  Trust and respect is earned and not given and this takes time. You will not gain mutual trust and respect in minutes.



Once the customer has given commitment and understands completely your presentation of the solutions then and only then is you ready to start the work the customer chooses. Your paperwork should include each solution and the choice your customer made. It is extremely wise to ask the customer why they chose the solution and have it on your paperwork. This will help verify the customer understood each solution and the implications of not choosing the right solution. It will also reinforce the customer made the absolute right choice when they choose the best solution that will take care of their problem.









You are not the Victim be Part of the Solution in The Construction Industry.



You are not the Victim be Part of the Solution in The Construction Industry.


During a recent LinkedIn discussion only 1 person addressed the real problem in the construction industry and a huge concern of mine that the trades are not inspiring the young people to enter it as a viable long term employment opportunity. The simple reason the trades do not pay. The figure of 60 grand a year has been thrown around by some contractors however that is not the going rate. It is more like mid 40’s for a 40 hour work week. I have been in the trades since 1972.


Young adults can make more money stocking shelves at a grocery store than they can as a 1st year apprentice or helper. They make more money selling videos at Block Buster. We in the industry must decide on an action that will increase pay where a trades person can earn 60-75 grand working 40 hours a week and not at 60 hours a week. A regular 40 hour pay should be a good pay and overtime should equal great pay.


It is all fine and dandy to say we want skilled personnel however without paying the proper dollars we cannot attract the best and the brightest. This means we must accept bodies and train and keep on training the same old same old. What is being done is not working and has not worked. Visit any trade site and listen to the owners and employees. Listen and read what is written with a ton of problems inside the trades with alcohol and drugs, divorce and dysfunctional families.


The real issue is a lack of business acumen in the trades. Trades people that are highly skilled in the trade are lacking business skills to run a business.  Gaining the ability to run the business in a profitable manner and managing people to motivate and inspire people. Understanding the true cost of doing business and then formulating a true rate to charge the customer that ensures everyone in the company is receiving a livable wage. There is a fear mentality if I charge this I will lose or that contractor is a rip off. The trades are the only profession that I know of that refuses to receive what they should monetarily wise. Doctors, lawyers, and accountants charge accordingly why shouldn’t we?


The majority of owners that I have had the pleasure to meet have started out by having tools and starting a business or inheriting a business. They are stuck in the“ I have always done it this way attitude’ and“ if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ nether way is beneficial to the industry. Neither way helps the industry grow and entice the young to enter the profession as a lifelong ambition. I have never heard a high school kid state they want to become a plumber, HVAC technician or electrician. The Industry must enter the school’s career day and inform the students that there is a great life waiting for them in the industry.


I do not want to go back to quantity and hire bodies that cannot do the job and fit the perception that the industry has allowed to manifest in the last 30 years. I would like to see our professional trade become more concerned with quality. The real issue is education. It is time to feast upon the highly educated to run a business. It is time for those in the industry and to seek help from those willing to give it to increase the ability of the individual not only with their professional trade skill but the business aspect of free enterprise.


The Industry must demand more from each within the industry to enlist into business education increasing the business acumen and to grab hold of good business practices that enhances the lives of those employed in the Industry. Once these business professionals understand and implement good solid business practices the industry will be able to grow and be sustainable in harsh economic times.


These good business practices can then be passed down to the employees making a stronger company that has the ability to conduct business with the consumer. Having the ability to communicate and educate the consumer will cut down on the illegal work being performed by unqualified people and those who skirt the system in place. It will level the playing field.


There are too many people in the industry who claim it is not their problem.  The idea it is not their responsibility to help others in the industry is no longer valid or good enough to not get involved. It is your profession that suffers each time another company calls it quits or goes bankrupt.


Get involved and help this industry attract new young exciting blood that will enhance the industry to new standards and heights. The infusion of new blood into the industry will generate more excitement and move the industry to new discoveries that can enlighten the building process in the future.


I know where I grew up if it wasn’t for people like Carl Yarnovich, Tom Moock, Bob Lemmon, Tim Lemmon, Fred Diss, Derrick Diss, Don Schalmo and Mike Zehnder all innovators in the building Industry along with my father Dick Hilliard, Bob Porter, Don Sumser at ABM Distributors  developing many  new businesses that would not have thrived in the 70’s to 90’s and today without them. These men were involved in their professional associations trying to make the building industry stronger. Each took pride in the industry and instilled that in their sub-contractors. Developing strong business partners that succeeded in the Industry.


What will you do to continue the strong influence these men did in their areas? Will you commit to excellence in the Industry? What part will you take up and move to the forefront? It is time to get involved and introduce the young to a brand new way of living and a brand new day in the construction  industry.

Sounded like a good idea ………………………. At the time

Sounded like a good idea ………………………. At the time


I truly enjoy listening to Michael Stanley from Cleveland, Ohio. His lyrics have so many different meanings and are spoken/sung brilliant. He has written a song called Good idea at the time. This is important due to this paper due to some advice that is given freely in some professional construction and service internet sites by long time business owners. Frequently the ideas expressed sound like a good idea at the time they are written. It is like a sporting event where you can pump your fists and throw it high into the air and yell right on or way to go brother. When you seriously look at what is stated you will shake your head and say, what did I do and why did I do it.


There are so many people that have enjoyed a long tenure in the industry despite themselves and their insufficiencies. These people are still in business for a variety of reasons. One reason may be longevity due to the name recognition while others have just been plain lucky. Another reason is the company is the only game in town, and people are stuck using them. The reason they are still in busy is unimportant. I do get a huge kick out of some of the advice given concerning treatment of customers. Before I get into the specifics of customer service, communication, and providing a different experience for the customer a discovery must uncover what your purpose or niche is.


You the owner must decide what your company will do to create your niche in your market and your customer. When you are a jack of all trades you are a master at none of them.  It is impossible for 1 person to become an expert when they are spread in too many different directions. However it is easier to keep busy if you do more than 1 function. Using a plumber as an example; a plumber can have divisions inside a company that covers residential and light commercial service, remodeling, and residential new construction under the guidance of one master plumber/owner. These are separate division under single management and must remain separate from each division.


This same plumbing company may want to only be involved in new construction business working with residential new construction and new commercial projects. When there is a relationship within the industry you can be an expert in each division. Some will only do service or any of the 3 individually.


However a company that is split into divisions with 1 person managing every division it becomes more difficult to be the expert. As an example a company that is diversified into all  phases of plumbing , then adding an HVAC division both commercial and residential, new and remodeling, appliance ,refrigeration, roofing and other types of construction 1 person cannot be the exert in any  of the different divisions unless those divisions are run separately and by others inside the organization. Again the jack of all trades master of none philosophy Is and will be apparent.


What I have described above with difference unrelated divisions inside a company will also uncover many differences in the philosophies with the way business is run. The customer experience is affected and will also be different. The company that is much diversified will not have to care as much about their customer niche as a company that only services 1 to 2 or 3 niches within a related industry. As the customer experience is and will be different between the 2 different company work environments.


When accepting advice from other business owners or trainers keep in mind their purpose and is that purpose different than yours. What may seem like a good idea at the time can also deliver horrendous results. I love how ballsy this one owner claims he is with his customers however, if a business owner would seriously treat their customers like this trouble would ensue. There are one of two things that will happen, and they are you will lose a ton of customers and there must be a huge market area to always be reaching for new customers to replace your old ones that have been discarded. Word spreads quickly concerning customer experience. Unless you are the only game in town, to play this game, you will lose.


Certainly there are times when you must separate your company from a customer. This is called firing a customer and certainly you must give that identical privilege to your customer to fire you. When you decide to cut loose the customer it must be based on your company purpose and limitations. You do not have to hold on and see how it plays out. To decide when a good time is to cut loose a customer; check your books. When the time involved exceeds the dollar amount that is necessary to run your company it is time to cut the customer loose. When a customer is obnoxious, disrespectful, and requesting outrageous discount each time you visit. It is time to let them go. Do not let your personality rule the decision on the type customer that your company needs to remain profitable and successful. When you base your decision on personalities you are limiting the number of opportunities that are present to you and your company.


There is never a time for you to lose control and resort to obnoxious, rude, and disrespectful behavior. The customer is searching for a leader, become that leader. Words are a tool start using words to help control behavior, especially behavior that is unbecoming. Be the leader you expect to be. A leader will guide and help people make decisions. Give the customer an experience that is different than any other company has given them in the past.


Remember when you hear a good idea at the time; stand back, reflect and research the idea to see if it benefits your company and your purpose. It is human nature to attack when you have been attacked. If you look back at any good or great leader any nation has ever had you will see in time of war they acted rationally and not spontaneously. Great leaders like Winston Churchill had a vision and a plan that allowed him to prepare for war. Sun Tzu in the book Art of War designed plans of attack and counterattack that can be used for basic sales strategy. Remember it is always best to use logic verse emotion when responding to a customer that is angry or being ridiculous.


Design your purpose in your niche and then set out to do it well. When you have a business and the arms that reach out those same arms should be able to belong to the center of your business. When you design your purpose, the company must set the standards. These standards shall and will enhance the customer experience that lead to a natural conclusion to use you. Decide today to stop struggling and fighting with your customers and start to give the customer the best service that he or she deserves. This service includes; good communication painting a picture of ownership with the right solution that will take care of the customer’s problem or issues they are experiencing.


Make your customer smile from ear to ear. Remember that some ideas sound good….At the time.

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