For the rest of you in the know, the last line of the classic 1942 film has Rick walking along the foggy tarmac with Louie. Rick turns to Louie and says, "Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
That line speaks volumes. It’s a friendship that is based on shared experiences and understanding someone’s expertise. Experience – there’s that word again. But it’s not what you’re thinking.
To keep one step ahead, this experience must be different from the rest. Plumbing or other trade businesses offer both sales and services to the client.
We sell material and offer our service to install. Experience in this context means a memory or feeling accepted by the client. Services rendered should not be felt by clients and trades people as a job; but an experience the client should learn from.
For example, if you were to dine in a restaurant, is the service part of the experience important to you? If not, then once again, you can stop reading this blog (and just carry on ordering your meals at the drive-thru).
In a dining experience, service should be prompt, accurate and pleasurable. If it isn’t, many customers will take their palate elsewhere. Service for the trades should also be prompt, accurate and pleasurable.
Okay, I know what you’re saying to yourself. You’re just shaking your head saying, “Dave, Dave, Dave, whatever do you mean? When I hire a plumber, electrician, etc, this will not constitute a pleasurable experience. I still have to pay them!!!” Yes, you are right, but what is the reason of the service call in the first place? Either a problem needs to be rectified or a renovation is in the making.
For many, it’s hard enough to have someone traipse through your house, let alone work in areas that make you feel a bit uncomfortable. From previous blog posts, you know when a tradesperson exits your home; there should be no “bad” trace that they worked in your house.
Well let’s go one step further and create an experience together with that service. Take advantage of the tradesperson’s knowledge and experience. Save some time and ask questions about other issues. Trust me; we are capable of working and answering your queries at the same time.
The tradesperson should be willing to explain maintenance or preventive programs and possible future pending issues or potential problems. They should also allot some time to talk about the job at hand, sort of like a mini tutorial. They should talk about various options especially in the case of a renovation. One of the worst things a tradesperson can hear is “how come you didn’t tell me that before?” Well that is the fault of the tradesperson. They should establish a trustworthy bond by mirroring the client without patronizing them. To use the restaurant analogy once again, a good waiter brings your meals promptly with a smile. A great waiter also might make suggestions of side dishes or the right beverage to go with what you have already ordered.
When it comes to plumbing, we usually show up in your most private of places. I mean, what’s more personal than someone’s bathroom! It’s always best to make a client feel comfortable when you’re working in their home. It’s heartwarming to know the tradesperson is catering to your needs . . . not just your pocketbook.
After the tradesperson leaves, the client should not only feel the job was executed correctly, but if there’s a problem, the tradesperson would act swiftly in correcting it. Of course we are not living in a perfect world. Some clients just want their problems fixed and don’t care about establishing a relationship. Same goes for some trades people. If you are in the latter category, again, you have read too far. Feel free to stop now. The cats are waiting for you.
When I leave my client’s home, I feel that they have learned something of value. Usually we exchange smiles and everybody is happy. If my clients are not interested to understand what service was just done for them, I usually cease working for them. I’m reminded of the last line of yet another classic movie; 1939’s Gone With The Wind, when Rhett Butler said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Trades people should appreciate their clients and vice versa, because we do give a damn.
See you around the drain.