Adams Hudson: How much experience is too much?
There’s no such thing as too much experience, right?
I mean, who would you rather have working on your car — the guys who has been at it for 20-plus years, or the kid who just dropped out of high school and decided being a plumber looked easy enough?
Hands down, I’m going with the first guy.
But there are times when too much experience — like any strength — becomes a weakness. And that can actually hurt your customers, your business and your bottom line.
How? When you perform the same repairs, replace the same equipment, and answer the same questions, experience becomes routine. Routine can become “rote.” Before you know it, every day is just another day on the job.
And “rote” quite often becomes “rut.”
Now please, hear me when I say this: Nothing will kill your business faster than getting stuck in a rut.
This profit-killing cancer infects every part of your business. Don’t believe me? See if you recognize any of these symptoms:
• Your CSR stops trying to actually provide service, and you (and your customers) may begin to hear things like, “Well, that’s our policy.”
• Your techs may start by being a little sloppier on the job — no shoe covers, not trying for the upsell. This can escalate into actual mistakes and unhappy customers.
• You find your business dictated by the weather or your competition.
• There’s a general air of sluggishness rather than excitement around the office and with the staff.
See, sometimes “experience” operates as a blinder to the things that made customers choose you in the first place: Differentiation. Your customers didn’t choose you because you were just like everyone else — they picked you because something about you stood out from the hundreds of contractors available to them. The mistake is in thinking your differentiation is a one-time event.
You don’t have to follow every fad or spend thousands chasing the next big marketing thing. But loyal customers have to choose you over and over again.
Here are five ways to get out of the rut and put your competition on the run.
Market like you mean it. That means sending out quality print pieces, not something your babysitter threw together in study hall. It means sending emails and reports that reinforce your USP (unique selling position). It means entering the 21st century through video, social media, and customer reviews. Falling down in this area is like taking a shovel into the rut to dig it even deeper.
Newsletters as gifts. Have some extra customer retention newsletters printed and let techs hand them to new customers on each service call. They cost pennies to hand out — and zero postage — and make a great first impression.
Handwritten thank-you notes. This step begins the referral process with huge impact. Every tech should always have a stock of thank you cards and pre-stamped (not metered) envelopes either in the truck or available at the office for him or her to fill out with a brief, personal note of thanks. You couldn’t afford to buy the goodwill this simple act will produce.
Yard signs, safety cones, truck signage and uniforms. Each of these shout a professional image but can be amazingly inexpensive. Once you’ve got them, the per-impression costs go down every time used, and make a huge visual impact for passersby. The more impressions, the greater the company notoriety and credibility.
Use your experience to redefine their experience. You sell customers your confidence and competence in exchange for making their “pain” disappear. That doesn’t come in a box, and it’s not in Aisle 7 (I already checked). It comes from the way you listen, how you understand their problems, and how you present the solution and package it with guarantees. Your follow-up cements the relationship and jogs referrals.
Making yourself unique and memorable helps customers separate you from others who just blend in. When you put these tools in place, customer acceptance and appreciation will seem very obvious, and soon enough, you’ll be looking back and saying, “No wonder that worked — it was a great idea.”