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Here at PHCC San Diego, our contractor members have a chance to gather for a Mastermind Meeting every month. In November we discussed how to get technicians to increase sales and the challenges involved. Many lamented, “My techs won’t upsell no matter what I do! They know their paycheck amount and that’s all they want.” We all nodded our heads at this.

In preparation for meeting we were asked to read The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer (to be honest many of us skimmed the Cliff Notes). There is some very good information in the book, but we were not comfortable with the word “Sell” and it is used A LOT in this book. However, the author’s message about being trustworthy and exemplifying integrity resonated. After some discussion several ideas from veteran owners rang true, and we think techs will try this approach. What was our answer? We need our techs to focus on customer service and safety.

Providing good customer service, our owners decided, means honestly looking out for your customer’s best interest, safety, and educating customers about their choices. Basically, showing integrity, trust, respect – being a true professional. Our group agreed: Our technicians like to be the “good guys.”

What does this mean? part of good customer service is checking several key items before fixing anything, such as checking water pressure. If water pressure is high there is no point in fixing the toilet the customer originally called about. The technician then educates the customer on how water pressure affects plumbing and suggests solutions to fix the water pressure before attempting to fix the toilet. The technician just increased sales without realizing he was selling! In his mind he was helping his customer, he was being professional and showed integrity and therein lies the solution. We need to focus on training our technicians the steps involved in providing excellent customer service and increased sales will follow.

According to the Little Red Book of Selling, people buy because the like their sales rep and like leads to trust, trust leads to buying, and buying leads to relationships. Repeat customers are the bread and butter of our business because these customers refer the plumbers to their friends and neighbors.

How did the customer come to like the plumber in our example? Our trustworthy plumber took the time to inspect the house and educate the customer on service options. He was honest, respectful and professional – he demonstrated integrity. Our PHCC Mastermind Group decided training our techs on what to check for in the house (creating a checklist) and how to interact with customers, are what we as business owners need to do. We agreed techs respond positively to this type of training rather than approaching them with HOW TO SELL.

You might be wondering, how does safety fit into all of this? That is part of the beauty of being a PHCC plumber. Part of our mission is to look out for the safety of our customers and for the protection of the environment.

Checking for safety also adds another level to providing excellent customer service. We need to train our techs on what safety items to check at every appointment. For instance, are there shiny silver gas connectors on customers’ dryers and water tanks? These shiny gas connectors are notorious for leaking and to be safe, homeowners need to know about this potentially dangerous problem. If a gas connector leaks and is next to a gas fired appliance… this could cause an explosion! Once educated, the owner will probably want to replace the connectors. Not only did the tech prevent a dangerous outcome, he increased sales and created another opportunity to build trust with the customer.

Our Mastermind Group went back on forth on how to approach the checklist. Is it something you give the customer or not? Some said yes, and some said no. It seems this is a choice to make individually. One of our owners did not like the liability involved by putting something in writing but another owner pointed out if a trained plumber is in the house and overlooked a safety hazard and something bad happened, liability is involved no matter what. Someone else compared the checklist to what you receive when you bring your car in for service, for example some dealerships have a standard checklist to let you know what percentage of your brakes are left, and what filters may be due for changing. Plumbers can do the same.

So dear reader, a written check list/notice of safety problems is up to you to decide. However, neglecting to train your techs on providing excellent customer service and education your customers on safety issues might be an expensive mistake. Techs do not need to sell per se, they need to educate their customers on their choices, check the house for safety issues and provide excellent customer service – increased sales will follow. Afterall PHCC stands for BEST PEOPLE, BEST PRACTICES.

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