Matt Michel: Networking for plumbers
One of the simplest ways plumbers can differentiate themselves and stand out from the competition is through personal networking.
Here are some ways you can network your plumbing business.
Why networking works
Human beings are social creatures. It is in our genetics to gather and trust information from other members of the tribe. A membership organization is a form of tribe.
A recommendation from someone we know trumps all advertising. It trumps all Internet referrals. It is powerful.
Think about the process you would follow to find a service provider. The first thought is to ask a friend for a referral.
The math of networking
Networking sounds too easy. Plumbers think it cannot be that simple, but it really is.
Do the majority of your calls result from advertising or word of mouth? For most plumbing contractors, it is word of mouth, which comes from satisfied customer networks and employee networks. It works, yet few company owners consider just how much they can personally affect word of mouth with their own networking.
If a company owner joins an organization with 75 members and gets to know 50 of them well enough over the course of a year that they know he is in the plumbing business, they represent 50 opportunities for future work. But it is more than that.
Each person becomes a source of information for others who might be looking for a plumber. Facebook can be used as a proxy for the number of active acquaintances a person has. The average is around 200. That means the 50 people the owner gets to know are acquainted with 10,000 people.
Of course, all 10,000 will not ask one of the 50 friends for a plumbing recommendation, and all 50 will not be willing to offer a recommendation. Assume only 10 friends are asked and willing to make a recommendation by only 20 of their acquaintances. That is still 200 opportunities. If you collect an average of $350 from each, that’s $70,000 in revenue that indirectly results from joining an organization. It does not include business from the members of the organization. It is easy to see how personal networking efforts can make a substantial difference in your business performance.
10 organizations to join 10
If you cannot join more than one or two, see if you can get others in your organization to join one or two. Pay their membership costs, and pay their time to participate. It’s a low-cost marketing expense.
- Service clubs
- Alumni groups
- Interest groups
- Leads clubs
- Chambers of commerce
- Homeowners associations
- Municipal boards
- PTAs and booster clubs
- Professional groups
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