It’s the biggest challenge of tradies everywhere:  balancing finding the work with doing the work.  When a potential client rings, it’s not going to be while you’re sitting staring at the phone, waiting for it to ring.  You know it’ll only ring while you’re up a ladder or crawling through a ceiling… It’s Tradies Law.  For 25 years, I’ve run one of Queensland’s most successful pre-purchase building inspection companies.  We’re not the cheapest.  We’re not doing 50 inspections a day.  We’re doing something else and it’s made all the difference.  In fact, it’s generated 92% of our client base.

What we do differently to other building inspectors

We focus on service.  It’s such a cliché and every tradie thinks they give great service but by making our inspectors more available to customers, we’re able to dominate over high volume, low cost providers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.   We haven’t sacrificed our brand integrity and we’ve never taken part in “price wars”.  I thought I’d share how we do it.  It’s about treating the very first customer in the chain so well, they can’t help but sing your praises to everyone they know.

Understand your client

Generally, when they’re hiring a tradie, either their making a considerable spend (one that at least requires saving or borrowing for) or something has gone horribly wrong and needs fast attention (looking at you plumbers right now!).  A new home, a new roof, an extension, a kitchen… this will be their pride and joy, their extra baby.  They’re eager to discuss it. They’re eager to move ahead.

In this day and age, the gender of the client shouldn’t make much difference.  Trades are historically a “bloke’s arena” and tend towards a “blokey culture”.  If you’re working for a couple or a woman, it’s vital to provide excellence in customer service.  Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchases.  They buy on behalf of family members.  Women tend to be the gatekeeper for household budgets.  Most of all, women have higher expectations of customer service.  (Source)  Remember that when you leave the quote, the woman will be driving the decision!

  1. Pick up the phone

We’ve got a free call number and my partner picks up the phone when it rings (or at worst calls them back within the hour).  She does everything in her power to answer their questions, help them with problems and make a time that suits them to book the job or quote.  We also allow for online bookings to – instant gratification for an exciting project speaks volumes.

If you don’t have the luxury of a business partner, consider engaging a virtual inbound call assistant to take the call and send you a text with the client’s name/s and an overview of the job.  Put aside the time you’re driving home to return all the calls in your car.  Never let them wait more than 12 hours for a return call.  That is the quickest way to lose a job.  They’re excited. This is a big deal for them.  They want you to be responsive and helpful.

  1. Take some time

Quoting is a pain.  Nobody likes doing it but if you take time to understand exactly what they want, look for foreseeable problems, explain how you can overcome them and help them picture the results, you’ll be far more likely to land the job, even at a higher price than the other tradies quoting.

This is so very important in the building inspection game as a home purchase is a stressful and very expensive decision.  Having Action Property Inspections involved in the purchase process equips them with the information they need to feel confident, it gives them permission to get excited about the property they’re going to buy.  That is just the kind of feeling that turns referrals up to eleven!

  1. Do a great job

Goes without saying right?  There’s a difference between a good job and a great job.  Discuss finishing touches, find clever solutions to their challenges, talk them through options… delivering good tradie service is about more than showing up on time and cleaning up after the job.

  1. Do the job with integrity

In our industry, there’s an emphasis on volume.  Jobs are rushed through and reports are very general.  While it is unlikely something terrible lurks in a corner, by not checking thoroughly, you may be leaving these new home owners with a massively expensive mess to clean up.  Treat every job as though you were doing it for your mum.  Let them know that if they have further questions, they can call, and that you’re on their side.

  1. If you want word of mouth, just ask

People love referring services they find valuable.  Once you’ve demonstrated your value, remind them to tell their friends. If they’re delighted with you, they’ll be delighted to share… You’ll find that some clients do it without prompting but it never hurts to remind them.

  1. Give them places to rave about you!

Forums, trades directories, Google My Business and social media are all places people love to tell their story.  Good stories and bad both reach dozens, hundreds or thousands of readers in a single post.  Most of the posters discussing services with friends (69%) are women (source) so it’s vital to provide excellent service if you want those glorious word of mouth referrals.

Make sure you’ve got a presence on social media and follow up after each job with a list of places they can review you online.  It’s also a good idea to send a survey about your work so they can have their say.  It’s great for feedback and improving your service, it makes them think hard about what they like about your work, it provides you with testimonials you can use on your website and most importantly, if they’re not happy, it gives them a place to express it without leaving negative comments online.

Sounds time consuming!  Is it worth it?

For every one customer we have to fight competitors for (remember we are a premium building inspection firm, we’re not cheap and cheerful) we end up with approximately nine more.  That one tells a friend, who tells a friend who tells a friend… meaning our leads are warmed and ready to purchase, confident that they’ll get stellar service and a thorough, carefully prepared building inspection report.  So, yes, spending more time on service saves you time and money on marketing, SEO, letterbox drops and ads in the local paper!

About the contributor: Andrew Mackintosh has run Brisbane building inspection firm Action Property Inspections for 25 years.  In that time, he’s built a stellar reputation for high quality work and customer care.