Be A Contractor Customers Want To Work With: 11 Ways To Go The Extra Mile
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Looking to grow your customer base? Want more referrals and repeat business? Be the contractor that people are lining up for instead of avoiding!
You're fighting for jobs with a lot of other contractors and home service providers, and that means you have to be on your toes at all times. Set yourself apart from the competition by going the extra mile for customers.
No matter what industry you work in, this will help you stand out from everyone else by providing an unbeatable customer experience. Here are 11 ways to exceed expectations.
Offer a Free Virtual Estimate
In our post-Covid world, customers have gotten used to doing everything online. Offer a free virtual estimate for customers who are looking to hire you for home improvements or repair projects, and it will help set your business apart.
Customers often prefer getting these types of estimates because they don't have to spend time taking off work or scheduling an appointment just to get pricing quotes. Many contractors charge a dispatch or consultation fee to go out and provide a quote.
By doing this virtually, you're one step ahead by saving your customer money.
You might be thinking that providing virtual estimates is more inconvenient for you than normal on-site service calls. But it's actually much less expensive and saves you time overall!
Yes, there might be a bit of a learning curve with technology at first — but when you compare all the wasted time driving around giving quotes just so they can choose another company...the whole virtual concept benefits your customer and you!
If you are concerned about providing an accurate price with a virtual estimate, just keep in mind it is only an "estimate."
As long as your customer understands that you cannot guarantee an exact price without a site visit.
Provide References From Past Clients
When customers are considering their options for a home service, they want the peace of mind that comes with knowing about your past successes.
If you’ve had anyone who went on to become long-term customers, or if you have referrals from other contractors that you’ve been a sub for, make these references a selling point for your company.
You can share your positive testimonials with customers in many ways.
If you have any pictures of past projects that turned out well, you should share these on social media too!
This allows potential customers who are researching their options to see what kind of work quality they're looking at if they choose your business.
You don't want another contractor stealing your clients! Share content like this with new prospects so that they know the benefits of hiring someone who does more than just show up for the job.
Also make directory sites with reviews (Google My Business, Angie's List, Yelp, Houzz, Nextdoor, etc.) a top priority.
You don’t have to pay for their advertising if it’s not in your budget, but make sure your profiles are up to date and you have pictures of your work uploaded. It’s a great way to showcase your skills and help customers understand what they are getting into before signing on the dotted line.
Every time you complete a job and have a happy customer, ask them to leave a review on one of these platforms.
The more glowing customer feedback you have, the better your reputation will be.
Show Up on Time and Be Punctual
Time is money for both you and your customer.
If you don’t show up on time, the customer is already making mental notes about how your work will go, and it may be bad.
Keep track of all appointments in a calendar or planner so that you never lose sight of any important dates (like job walks, inspections, material deliveries, job deadlines, homeowners availability days, etc.)
You can also use a free app like Google Calendar to help with this process!
When setting up for jobs, always come prepared; have everything ready to go upfront so that nothing slows down your work.
And make sure to be transparent with your customers about any changes or delays with the completion date of their project.
It’s better than being surprised by something out of their control and getting upset over things.
Communicate With Your Customers
There's nothing worse than being left in the dark as a customer. Wondering where your contractor is, if the project is progressing as planned, or when you should expect to see the end result...
The best contractors work closely with their customers, communicating frequently and making sure everyone is on the same page.
Customers seek out contractors who offer this level of service because it's what sets them apart from other providers in the industry.
And communication in general isn't enough. You have to focus on prompt communication.
Customers are impatient, so you have to be accessible and responsive.
Here are a few ways to keep customers happy and gain their trust:
Respond quickly to inquiries from new leads
Email progress reports for every major milestone in the project lifecycle (I.e. demolition completed, framing complete, final inspection date, etc.)
Always check your voicemails and return calls ASAP
If you're going to be unavailable for a period of time by phone or email, just let them know
Tell Customers What to Expect Before Starting Any Work
Before starting a project, you should always provide a detailed estimate and outline the scope of work. This should include:
Projected start date
Estimated time for completion
Details about any urgent needs
What will be accomplished with each day's labor (eg., framing, sheetrock)
If there are any unknowns that could come up during the project, you need to address them early on so customers aren't surprised later in the process.
For example: If your customer wants upgrades without understanding how much it will cost them in terms of additional materials or labor hours, have those conversations before starting any work.
If you don't already have one, consider creating a contract with terms and conditions. This will ensure both parties know what to expect and have a clear understanding of what you will deliver for the price they are paying.
Cover your bases as much as possible to avoid frustrations and misunderstandings.
Be Honest About What You Can Do For Them
Don't oversell yourself. Instead undersell and overdeliver.
If you can’t provide something requested by a customer be honest about it upfront. It's better than disappointing them later on after wasting their time and money.
This will only create a negative experience and hurt your reputation.
If they want to upgrade without understanding how much it will cost them in terms of additional materials or labor hours, have those conversations before starting any work.
A contractor should help their customer by educating them.
If you can't provide what a customer wants, offer to find someone who can or refer them somewhere else.
This is an important step in building relationships and trust with customers.
Provide Clear and Concise Pricing
Customers deserve to know how much their project costs right off the bat.
Provide clear and concise pricing information so your customers know exactly what they're getting into before signing any contracts or agreements.
Your estimate and contract should be detailed in what the customer is being charged for, and not just show a project total with no explanations.
Pricing might include labor, materials, subcontractor costs, permits, inspection fees, and any other associated expenses.
This will help customers be more confident in their decision when choosing a contractor for the job they want done.
It also helps them know how much of an investment they're making up front before moving forward with you.
Some customers may even need to apply for financing, so knowing the cost can help them make an educated decision on how to pay.
And don't be afraid to require a deposit before starting the work. This helps you qualify customers and avoid the looky-lou's while helping prevent costly disputes down the road.
One way of securing payments is by requiring customers to pay some amount upfront when they sign their contracts and agreements with you.
This may seem like it could backfire on contractors who lose money if customers don't follow through on paying them in full, but that type of arrangement can actually protect them from losing money if things go south because they're already paid up front for what has been done so far.
This also helps motivate clients not to bail out midway because they know there are penalties waiting for them at that point.
Offer a Guarantee on Your Work
This might be a bit more difficult for some contractors, but offering a warranty or guarantee on your work can go one step further in establishing trustworthiness and customer satisfaction.
The benefit of doing this is that it alleviates any worries customers have about cost overruns because they know there's protection should something happen to your completed work.
It puts them at ease knowing their investment was well worth it — as opposed to feeling like they were taken advantage of.
The key is to be proactive and not reactive.
Don't wait until a customer calls to complain or leaves a bad review months after you've finished the job.
Invite homeowners over once your work is done so they can see what has been completed and point out any finishing touches still needed (e.g. drywall or painting).
Take that time to explain any manufacturer warranties or guarantees you provide.
This will show them how much you care about customer satisfaction.
Looking for other strategies to increase your sales? This article was written for plumbers, but can help any home service provider or contractor. Click here 👉 Increase Your Plumbing Sales The Easy Way
Do a Quality Assurance Check After the Job Is Completed
A simple thank you call, email, or text message after the job is finished can help you maintain that customer. This is called “quality assurance,” and allows you to make sure you fulfilled all your job promises.
Here are a few examples of what to do to show appreciation and build goodwill:
Thank them for choosing your company
Offer assistance if they need anything at all in the future
If they mention an issue, take time to prioritize their problem
Remind them about any warranties/guarantees included with their purchase
Recommend other products or services that might make life easier for them going forward
It's not always possible for contractors or service providers to anticipate every scenario their customer might need help with after you part ways...
So it may also be important to give contact information of an emergency number (whether that's your company or someone else) so homeowners know who to call if something arises.
Showing this level of gratitude and helpfulness demonstrates the high-touch experience that other contractors are likely not giving.
Send Maintenance Reminders
When you're in the customer service industry, going the extra mile with maintenance reminders is a great way to take care of customers.
Reminders can make all the difference in both nurturing the relationship and increasing revenue.
It shows you understand your clients’ needs and know how those needs may change over time.
It's important to send these reminders when it's relevant and timely for the customer. Seasonal tips and coupons are the perfect way to reconnect with old customers, offer something of value, and potentially make another sale.
Membership programs are also becoming more popular for contractors. They're another way to stay in contact and offer your expertise through preventative maintenance, which will save them time, money, and the stress of surprise breakdowns down the road.
Make Your Employees Happy
It’s clear that customer experience drives revenue, but what’s the number one way to create a great customer experience?
You have to start with your employees and management.
If you want customers to feel special when they hire you, it all starts at the top.
Do you have a culture that engages employees, rewards their efforts, and provides opportunities for growth?
Or are your employees constantly asked to sell hard, cut corners, and do things they struggle with in order for the company to make more money?
If so, then it won’t come as any surprise when customers complain about the same thing.
And it shouldn't be surprising if employees leave because of how often this kind of treatment is happening.
It's already hard enough to attract and keep talented employees in the trades. Respecting your team members and creating an environment where they can succeed will help with employee retention.
Recognize good work in order to promote more of those behaviors throughout the organization. Show everyone how much their contribution matters.
Listen to their opinions, ideas, and suggestions on ways you can improve — no matter what position they hold at the organization.
If everyone feels like their voice counts, then customer experience will automatically improve.
Struggling to come up with a reward system for your techs? Check out this article 👉 How to Use Spiff Incentives to Effectively Motivate Your Employees
The 11 ideas we discussed today can help get you started on creating an amazing customer experience for new leads and returning customers alike.
What do you think? Which of these suggestions are you going to use to create a customer experience that keeps them coming back for more? Share in the comments!