Essentially, finding a good contractor is a lot like finding “the one.” There are certain qualities and attributes you want for a successful, long-term relationship. The trouble for most homeowners is knowing exactly what to look for in a contractor and what types of questions to ask. As a service professional who wants to scale their business, one of the best things you can do is educate potential customers on what to look for and how you meet the criteria.
IDENTIFYING A PRO
The first thing you want to do when educating homeowners is to distinguish the difference between someone who simply installs products and a servicing heating professional. Installing a new hydronic system, for example, is a significant investment, which is why homeowners tend to focus exclusively on pricing. For many, this focal point becomes the dominant factor, driving him/her to search for the lowest bid possible. The danger in allowing this to be the most important aspect of the contractor search is that very little consideration is given regarding maintenance. One of the best things you can do is to remind potential buyers that finding an installer is not enough, what they want is a knowledgeable servicing professional who is able to perform the recommended maintenance and identify issues quickly. Every hydronic unit, regardless of how new or advanced it is, will need to be serviced at some point. It’s a comfort to know that if an issue should ever arise, the contractor understands exactly how to address the problem. The last thing anyone wants is someone “trying a few things” on a sophisticated piece of machinery that costs thousands of dollars. By placing an added emphasis on education and the value of servicing equipment in your marketing efforts, not only will you gain new customers, but you’ll also win their confidence.
QUESTIONS WORTH ASKING
It is important to remind end-users that just because someone claims to have worked in the business for many years, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are qualified to address their specific needs. In an industry that is governed by innovation, contractors must constantly strive to stay informed on the latest trends and changes. Below are some questions you can confidently tell homeowners they should be asking, and, in doing so, you can demonstrate why you’re the contractor for the job.
When was the last time you attended the manufacturer’s training course?
Manufacturers invest heavily in product training to ensure that contractors have a firm foundation for installing and servicing equipment. If you’re speaking to a contractor who hasn’t attended a training class in over 5 years, you may want to reconsider.
Do you offer 24-hour service?
Murphy's Law states that, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” With that in mind, choose a contractor who you can depend on to be there when Murphy decides to kick you down. There is nothing worse than going without heat or hot water during the harsh winter months.
What happens after the installation?
Here’s a way to identify whether you have found a keeper or not. If the contractor responds by saying “you’re all done” or “there’s nothing left to do”, that’s a red flag. A good contractor will inform you of the proper maintenance procedures, make suggestions, and will want to follow up within a year or so.
Do you offer a loyalty rewards program?
A great service professional is always busy. A loyalty rewards program ensures that you are at the top of his/her priority list. Other great perks include: discount pricing on annual maintenance, reduced rates for plumbing/heating emergencies, and other special incentives.
Note: These perks of course vary, so make sure you do some research.
By taking the time to show homeowners what a great contractor looks like, you reinforce the idea that it’s not just about installing a product or making a profit; it’s about taking care of people. And in a culture that is vastly influenced by research, reviews, and good rapport, that type of gesture goes a long way. May these tips help you in securing more business and building long-lasting relationships.