Patty Frank moderated Dollars for Sense and accumulated a wealth of good ideas.
LAS VEGAS - One of the most popular segments of any contractor gathering is the session where business owners swap success stories for the benefit of their peers and for a little extra spending money. (The latter comes in handy when Las Vegas is the venue). The Quality Service Contractors (QSC), an enhanced service group of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association (PHCC), sponsored a "Dollars for Sense" event and disbursed a lot of cash to attendees at ISH North America.

Patty Frank, owner of Milton Frank Plumbing Co., Spring, Texas, and QSC board of trustee member, moderated the event. Charlie Wallace, QSC executive director, handed out the money.

Frank said she was a little disappointed that, as moderator, she wouldn't be able to collect money from any of her ideas at this meeting. "I started going to Dollars for Sense meetings years ago, and at first I was afraid to raise my hand," she said. "I went home after the first year and said ‘I can do that better; I've got great ideas.'"

Charlie Wallace was happy to give out stacks of money for good ideas.

Some Of The Ideas

Ideas suggested by participants included:

  • Give clients goodie bags, which can include toys, coloring books, etc. Also, put shoe covers in the goodie bag for the next service tech to wear, in case he isn't from the same company.

  • Make everyone in the company accountable and a decision-maker. Give them a certain range of authority to free up the owner to make other decisions.

  • Give tool allowances of $10 to $15 each week. It is a financial incentive if techs keep all of their tools in good working condition, too.

  • Put stickers on every serviceable appliance in a customer's home (with customer's permission). Make sure techs are doing it by requesting they bring back the sticker backing with the date it was applied and during what job.

  • When a customer demands a lower price, and you don't want to go any lower, offer to install a lawn sign (where municipalities allow) for a number of days for a discount (inexpensive advertising).

  • Include smoke detector battery changes on maintenance agreements.

  • Offer immediate discounts on service agreements that are signed on the spot with technicians.

  • Get feedback cards from customers, asking them if the tech did everything he/she was supposed to do. Photocopy the card and discuss the results with the technician.

  • Put all equipment warranties in a company imprinted envelope, and include a business card.

  • Send a birthday card to the equipment on the anniversary of its installation.

  • Institute a "Customer Observation Program" (COP). Keep a checklist of all observations about a customer during a service/installation call. Use the COP when doing promotions or giving away gifts.

  • Carry a bundle of company imprinted pens to give out, especially to waitresses in restaurants. Most restaurants don't have their own pens because people walk off with them. Also, give pens to grocery store cashiers. As one contractor said, "If someone steals the pen, it's OK; it's free advertising."

  • Give out refrigerator magnets with a 10-percent discount coupon and no expiration date.

    Publication date: 12/08/2003