Want more customers? Try taking off your shoes…

Have you noticed how it’s often the simple things in life that make such a big difference?

My wife and I had a less than pleasant experience recently with a business and their tradespeople who came to fix our fridge. There were some simple things that the tradesmen could have done which would have made our experience a much more positive one. This would have increased our likelihood of becoming repeat customers and referring that business to friends, family and our wider audiences on social media.

Instead, we’re left feeling somewhat dissatisfied, undervalued and unappreciated.

It began when our fridge stopped working and became an oversized esky. Naturally, we Googled repair services in our area and placed a service call with the seemingly well known, well respected, successful appliance repair business that ranked well on Google. [Note: it cannot be overstated how important it is to rank well on Google search!] One of their tradesmen came and did the initial assessment and told us that the heating element was broken. Said company ordered the part, and we waited, and we waited and we waited.

After not hearing from them for a week, I phoned up to find out what was going on. I was told they were waiting on the part. Surprise, surprise! They phoned back the next day and booked the repair for a couple of days later. I wasn’t home during any of this, just my darling wife, who’s probably much more tolerant and polite than I would be in these situations. Their tradesperson came to replace the part, only to inform my wife once he’d dismantled our fridge that the supplier had delivered the wrong part, which would require him to return to the workshop and place a new order for the correct part. More time without our fridge. Another week went by without any news. I called again to find out what was going on but what I got were nothing more than excuses. Something about the part that they were ordering was the right one, but the manufacturer kept sending the wrong one blah blah blah. I was told they were getting in touch with the global office in Korea and that he’d give me a call back. I never got that call back. Three days later, we did get a phone call to say that they’d be out to replace the part on the Friday as they had managed to locate the right one. (That was quick, the last guy said they were sending it from Korea)

By this stage, almost three weeks had passed since we originally reported the broken fridge. My wife was pretty tired of living out of an esky.

A different tradesperson turned up on the Friday at the indicated time. (Gold star!) By this stage we’d had a bit of rain, and as we live in a rural area our driveway can get a bit muddy. I wasn’t home when all this took place but my wife’s account of the experience goes something like this:

The tradesperson walked up the front stairs and straight in the house with his muddy boots. He had gotten half way across our polished timber floors before he must have realised what he’d done and began to apologise profusely to my wife who, being much more tolerant and patient than I, told him not to worry about it. Trust me, my wife wouldn’t have been pleased! He proceeded to successfully fix the fridge however in the process of dragging it out of it’s space it scratched our timber floors. The icing on the cake was upon leaving, he drove across our lawn to turn around – instead of using the driveway like most normal people.

I do accept that I tend to be quite particular when it comes to the businesses that I patronise. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and I’m sure most of you reading this have had your own similar experiences with tradespeople. If you’re a ‘tradie’ yourself I’m sure you’re aware of people in your industry and others that do business this way. The great thing about this scenario is the opportunity it presents for those of you who want to stand out. There are some simple things that will leave your customers feeling great about their experience, as well as feeling happy to pay the invoice promptly.

Three simple strategies that will make you stand out from your competitors:

1. The Buckingham Palace Principle.

It still amazes me that people don’t take their shoes off before they go into somebody else’s house. Perhaps I was brought up under some crazy old school values, but I think it’s a simple show of respect and care that you kick off your boots – no matter how clean or muddy they might be, and walk around inside a client’s home in your socks. I know some trade businesses that actually supply their employees with simple little boot covers or slippers that they wear when they go inside a client’s home. Sure, it might add some time to do that, but the impact that has on your customers’ perception of you is grossly underestimated. The other thing that speaks volumes about your professionalism is to simply clean up after yourself. Carry a small, cheap dust buster type vacuum, or just use a good old fashioned dustpan and brush. But clean up your filings, your shavings, your wire cuttings, whatever it is that you’re leaving behind. This shows the customer that you care about them and their home. Treat your clients’ home the way you would the royal palace.

2. Customers Aren’t Mushrooms.

You know the old line about mushrooms… keep them in the dark and feed them bulls#!% That’s not going to get you referrals! Tell your customers what’s going on. Keep them informed and up to date. Don’t leave it longer than two or three days without some sort of communication – they want to know what’s happening. If you’re waiting on parts, call them and tell them. If the job’s been delayed for some reason, email or send a text. There’s so many different ways to communicate with our customers these days that there’s really no excuse for not doing so. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to keep people informed. Once again, it’s amazing how much more comfortable customers feel when they know what’s going on. Nobody likes being kept in the dark.

3. Don’t Play Hard To Get.

No customer wants their buying experience to be complicated, mysterious or full of surprises. Try to be upfront with the cost of the service once you’ve agreed on a solution and if you can’t give an estimate or a quote, at least be prompt with your invoice. Don’t leave people guessing, customers don’t like nasty surprises! Give them a multitude of ways that they can pay your invoice as well. Rather than just the good, old fashioned cheque, offer credit card facilities, EFT, maybe even Paypal. Make it easy for customers to pay your bill, and don’t be afraid to follow it up with a friendly reminder to make sure you get paid. If you’ve done steps one and two properly, then you should expect to get paid on time.


Pro Tip: You know all those annoying stereotypes that you hear associated with your industry? They exist because people have actually had those experiences. Look at those stereotypes as an opportunity to market yourself differently and leave people feeling great about dealing with your business. Chances are they’ll refer you to their friends and family because you stood out from the rest and left them feeling valued, appreciated and important. Oh, and take your shoes off…





P.S. At the time of writing this post, more than a week had passed since the repair was completed and we’ve still not received an invoice or even a quote!