As surprising as it may be, simply finishing projects perfectly is not enough to get more clients and acquire five-star reviews. Why?
Because anyone can finish a project and still leave the client dissatisfied in the end.
Even worse, more often than not you will find that you finished a project “perfectly”… yet the client felt like you were worthy of a four-star review.
“I did everything perfectly, what’s up with the missing star?” you might wonder.
In short, the answer is:
The following tips are more about providing good customer service than the specifies of any particular jobs.
And within them you might find the secret to that missing star.
1. First impressions matter
In business more than anywhere else, first impressions are everything — and given that most of a contractor’s first impressions happen over the phone, it might seem like a huge disadvantage.
But not quite.
First of all, it’s important to understand and accept how rigid homeowners can be when picking up the phone — and that you can’t blame them. They will want to know right away:
- Who are you?
- What’s your business?
- What are you offering?
- Are you a professional?
- Are you trustworthy?
It might seem like a minefield, but it’s very simple:
Homeowners are looking for someone they can trust.
In your first sentence, state your name, business, and why you’re calling. This answers the first three questions in one go. This is especially important in voicemails.
Then, ask them about the project and let them talk. Take the time to answer their questions, and make your own if necessary. To schedule an appointment, be as flexible as possible.
Finally, end the conversation repeating the date and time of your meeting — this helps the customer feel more confident you’ll show up on time.
With that, you just nailed a terrific first impression. Everything you do from now on will either cement that impression or diminish it. And the first thing that usually breaks it is…
2. Be punctual
Not showing up on time is a major first impression killer.
The problem is what it implies. If you’re late for the very first meeting with the homeowner, it will leave them with the impression you’re always late.
Here are common practices to stay on time:
- Have all your meetings written down on your favourite calendar app, or if you prefer, a physical agenda
- Take note of weather conditions that might get in your way
- Mind the traffic — both Android and iOS automatically inform you of traffic for scheduled meetings
If you know you’re running late on a meeting because of traffic, weather, or other unplanned occurrences, inform the homeowner as soon as possible.
Most people won’t mind you arriving a few minutes late as long as you don’t keep them waiting in doubt.
3. Write a professional estimate
So you’ve talked over the phone, you’ve had a good meeting, and it’s time to give your estimate.
First and foremost, make it as detailed as possible. Most homeowners will have some idea of general costs in their area. Being specific with your estimate builds trust, and makes them much more accepting of the final cost for the service — since they know where their money is going.
And last but not least, make it professional-looking. Most word processors have easy to customize templates you can use. Add your logo in there, double-check for typos, and avoid the 5 mistakes contractors make when giving a quote.
Basically, presentation is key. Make sure your brand looks as professional as you are.
And speaking of branding…
4. Wear your brand
Wear it as much as you can, both literally and figuratively.
Wear a custom shirt with your logo every time you meet a client. It’s good practice to have a few extra shirts in your car — if you’re coming from another job site and want a clean shirt, it will be there.
Also, always have a batch of updated business cards with you.
Have a custom email signature with your logo or brand name so every time you correspond with a client, it will be there.
Likewise, make sure all your social network pages have updated contact information and your recognisable logo on them. Keeping social networks updated is a whole other subject we will talk about some other time, and don’t worry if you don’t have the time or budget to do it.
4. Be a nice guest
Accepting yourself as a guest makes it a lot easier to follow etiquette that will make homeowners and their families comfortable with you around.
Always ask permission. Whether it’s to have free space in the room you’re working on for the majority of the job, or to use their bathroom. If the customer or someone from their family isn’t home, make a quick phone call and ask permission then. It would be incredibly awkward for a homeowner to discover you’ve entered any rooms in their home uninvited.
Try to keep things out of the way. Some tools can be dangerous to be left around in a home with children, for example. Do your best to make your stay in their home hassle-free.
Likewise, be sure to let a customer know in advance if one or more rooms will be unusable while you’re working on them, or for some time after that. They will have to plan around it, so the sooner they know, the better.
5. Clean up the job site
Check any review aggregator — more often than not, not cleaning the job site costs you that one star from a perfect score.
Even if everything was perfect thus far, failing to leave things neat and tidy will certainly upset the homeowner.
And they’re right: you say the job is done and they come home to find a mess they have to clean? Not very nice of a guest they let into their home.
So, as a rule, always clean the job site at the end of the day. It demonstrates professionalism, homeowners will commend you for the effort…
And they will gladly give you the perfect score you deserve.
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