Contractors Need to Give Customers Value

April 16, 2007
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Speaker Gary Oetker, left, talks with QSC contractor David Singleton before his “Mapping Your Success” presentation.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. - More than 260 of the nation’s top HVAC and plumbing contractors descended upon Scottsdale, Ariz., to network with other contractors, learn from industry-leading speakers, and enjoy some social events at the Quality Service Contractors’ (QSC) Power Meeting XXVI. During the meeting, everything from business review and evaluation, management processes, cash flow, and business survival were discussed.

Consultant Gary Oetker ad-dressed operational processes that will help deliver consistent customer service and improve productivity in his presentation “Mapping Your Success.” Oetker also talked with the contractors about creating value.

“Ten percent of consumers are driven by price alone,” Oetker said. “About 7 percent of consumers buy for status. They want the best of the best and will pay for it. They believe it to be a sign of self worth. The remaining 83 percent fall in between and they want value.”

The goal is to not be the highest price in town, but also not to be the lowest. Oetker listed items that customers perceive as value including: prompt arrival, respect for property, technicians being dressed appropriately, and the ability to communicate. It is no coincidence that all these items revolve around the behavior of the technician at the customer’s home.

Oetker stated that 68 percent of customers are lost because of an attitude of indifference expressed by an employee. Only 14 percent of customers are lost because of dissatisfaction of the product, while 9 percent leave for a successful competitor. According to Oetker, all contractors should strive to perform the perfect service call. This involves following 10 specific steps, including:

1. Pre-Calling - Answering the phone with good etiquette and scheduling the appointment.

2. Arriving - Parking your vehicle properly and getting ready for the call.

3. Approaching the Home - Creating a first impression with appearance, intelligence, and character.

4. Contacting - Greeting the customer with a handshake and a proper introduction all while respecting the homeowner’s property. Be sure to gain permission to ask questions.

5. Interviewing - Asking some key questions. Learning about the customer, the problem, and other areas that may present opportunities.

6. Understanding - Being sure to relate to different personality styles.

7. Planning - Explaining the diagnostic procedure. Asking the customer to show you the problem and inviting the customer to tag along.

8. Diagnosing and Treating - Completing the diagnosis. Not overselling repairs. Contractors must explain the timetable for repair and get customer authorization to proceed with repairs.

9. Executing Repairs - Completing technical repairs. Reviewing repairs on the service ticket and collect payment.

10. Completion - Being sure to thank the customer. Going back to the vehicle and distributing door hangers. Debriefing with dispatch.

In Oetker’s mind, it is not that complex of a process. “It is simple. The perfect service call is all about setting up the expectations - for the company, the personnel - and then creating processes around getting it done,” Oetker said. “If you don’t define the steps, how do you hold people accountable, train them, resource them, and praise them?”

AWARDS, ELECTIONS, ETC.

Listening to highly respected industry speakers wasn’t the only item on the Power Meeting agenda. A Challenge Air golf tournament sponsored by Hodes Co., along with a Singleton Auction, raised nearly $16,000 for Challenge Air. This brought QSC’s fundraising for Challenge Air, an aviation program for disadvantaged children, to more than $78,000 in seven Power Meetings.

Also, QSC members contributed $15,800 to the PHCC Educational Foundation’s Invest In Your Future fundraiser. With the 1/3 matching funds InSinkErator donated, the QSC members at the Power Meeting helped raise over $21,000 in support of education.

QSC’s elections were included in the Power Meeting XXVI schedule. Bill Chronister of Saddleback Plumbing Inc. was elected to his first three-year term as trustee, while David Singleton of David R. Singleton Inc. was elected to his second three-year term. The trustees elected Keith Bienvenu as chairman for another year, and Patty Frank of Milton Frank Plumbing was elected vice chair.

The association also used the meeting to announce some awards including:

  • Hodes Co. as industry partner of the year;

  • Roger Peugeot of Roger The Plumber, as QSC contractor of the year; and

  • Sonny Friedman of Atlas Plumbing & Heating Co., as QSC humanitarian of the year.

    In addition, the QSC group grew during the three-day event as 26 new members joined the association. The next QSC meeting will be in Washington, D.C., July 26-28.

    For more information, visit www.qsc-phcc.org.

    Publication date: 04/16/2007
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