9 Tips for tradesmen, construction and field service industry: Knowing Your Customers
One of the best tips for tradesmen, construction workers, and anyone in the field service industry is to know your customers. They want assurance, first and foremost. Here are a few ways you can provide that assurance from the moment you arrive until the final bill is paid:
- Be on time. An excellent way to start off each client interaction is to set an appropriate window for your arrival and then do everything you can to be there within that timeframe. We can help you set and track appointments, and also contact customers as early as possible when you know you’re running late.
- Manage your appearance. We don’t mean primping (that gives the wrong vibe too), but it never hurts to run a comb through your hair and tuck your shirt in before knocking on a customer’s door. To prevent the possibility of tracking dirt through your customers’ homes, invest in a box of disposable booties and use them. They’ll take note and tell their friends.
- Show your license. Whether anybody asks to see it or not, have your professional license and proof of liability insurance ready to display. One way to do this is to put them in a clear folder and keep it on a clipboard in your vehicle.
- Provide reliable quotes. Create a thorough estimate of the work without leaving anything out. Give your customer a quote in writing that they can refer to during the job. This sets appropriate expectations and will save your bacon in situations where customers remember things differently. Our estimating software pays for itself on this feature alone.
- Get social. Your customers are turning more and more to online reviews for information about which trades to hire. Yelp is great but there isn’t any guarantee that the reviews are from genuine customers. One potential answer is to create a Facebook business page and invite your customers to provide online reviews so that viewers can see there are real people leaving feedback. You will need to monitor all reviews so you have a chance to report and remove any negative comments that are untrue. If someone does say something negative that you know is true, own up to it and make an effort to smooth things out with your customer.
- Communicate! As we mentioned above, if you’re going to be unavoidably late, let your customer know as soon as possible. You can do this with our service management app on your phone. In the same way, let your customer know immediately if the scope of your work changes. For long jobs, set aside regular times for status updates. Don’t be afraid to talk about any change in costs due to a need for new or additional materials, as well as increased hours.
- Be clear regarding pay. Your only upfront costs should be a standard deposit (usually 5%) and payment for materials. If anything changes that would increase material costs and work hours, update the estimate and provide it to the customer. Get the customer’s signed approval on all changes.
- Be firm on materials costs. It may be tempting to pick up additional materials over the course of a job without charging the customer, but you simply can’t afford to take this chance. You may wonder what this has to do with your customer’s perspective, but the truth is that this bad habit can ruin you and your reputation. So even if it’s inconvenient at the time, do not purchase additional materials until you collect payment for them, along with a deposit for the increased hours. This sets appropriate expectations and prevents your customer from blithely requesting or approving changes without weighing the cost. Leaving these costs until you present the final bill can cause sticker shock, resulting in friction that impacts your reputation, and could even result in a refusal to pay.
- Understand your customer’s rights. Know what your customer has a right to expect and read up on your own rights too. All of this information is available online. A great place to start is the consumer protection sites for the US and Australia.