When it comes to water heater installation, a positive customer experience is key to growing your business. Today’s customers are able to research water heaters online and buy them from retail stores. So, it should come as no surprise that close to 50 percent of water heaters are installed by DIYers.

This is dangerous for consumers and bad news for plumbers. But it’s up to professional tradespeople to demonstrate to customers the value of their work and that their expertise and professionalism brings much better results, safety, and longevity than any DIY job.

Here are some best practices that can make the customer experience memorable, reduce callbacks, and grow your reputation as an installation expert. You can become the contractor everyone else wants to be.

Educate the Customer

These days, consumers are more informed than ever before, but their web searches may have given them misinformation, too. This can create a challenge for the contractor, as they may get challenged on their prices, their practices, or their recommendations.

The customer may have unrealistic expectations about water heater functionality, too. For example, tankless water heaters are often called instantaneous water heaters, which gives consumers the impression that they will provide hot water as soon as the faucet is turned on. While this functionality can be achieved, an experienced contractor knows that it requires extra equipment and expense.

To best educate the customer and set good expectations about your work and the equipment they buy, start by educating yourself. Knowledge is power. Take trainings on how to overcome objections and make sure you can clearly articulate what the water heater will and won’t do.

In addition, educate the customer about maintenance and safety at the time of the installation. Don’t just hand them the manual, but talk with them about why it’s important. Walk them through the safety systems integrated into the appliance. Show them how to adjust the temperature. Go the extra mile to keep your work functional and your customers safe, and maybe even set up a preventative maintenance plan.

Find Out What the Customer Needs

Most people install a new water heater reactively instead of proactively, meaning their old water heater broke down. Many contractors will install equipment with the same function and capacity as the water heater they remove. If that water heater was installed in a newly constructed house, then it is probably spec equipment.

To get a water heater for your customer that better meets their needs, ask questions. Find out how many people they have in the family, whether everyone is out of the house most days, what their daily hot water needs are. Ask if the previous appliance met their needs or not. This way, you can easily tailor the new appliance to get better results for the customer.

Get the Installation Right

The best way to improve the customer experience is to make sure the installation is done right the first time. Make sure you have the proper tools for the job and the right water heater for the customer’s needs. Remember to manage thermal expansion and install a thermal expansion tank if necessary.

Also, remember that aesthetics matter. The job needs to look like a professional installation, so make sure the water heater is level and that the plumbing lines are square. Be sure to clean up after yourself and leave the homeowner’s space looking neat, clean, and even better than when you arrived. Take this opportunity to show your customers the value of a skilled tradesperson.

Before you leave the home, take this extra step to make sure any future maintenance or service calls go smoothly. Accurately document the performance of the new water heater by collecting all the vital signs like water pressures, vent system draft if it is a gas-fired water heater, and voltage and amperage if it is electric. Ensure the water heater is operating as it should to form a baseline of data to reference if a return visit is required.

Make Service Calls Fast and Efficient

When the customer calls you back for maintenance or repair, it’s important to get those tasks done efficiently and professionally, too.

Start by making sure you have the right tools to service a water heater, like a manometer to measure gas pressures and draft, pressure gauge for collecting water pressure data and voltmeter for electrical readings or testing. Next, listen to the customer’s concerns and ask questions. Take the opportunity to fully understand what the service call is about.

Then, collect the water heater’s vital signs and compare them to the baseline data you collected at installation. Compare the two sets of data to help you figure out what might be going wrong or what has changed. This will keep your service calls fast, saving your customers money and helping you truly fix the problem.

Be a Pro

Ensuring quality, professional installations and service will grow customers’ trust in you, and they will be more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. Word-of-mouth marketing is extremely effective, and it all starts with the customer experience. Following these steps will help you grow your customer base and boost the reputation of the industry overall.

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