Make Money With Words
Marketing is all about creating, developing and nurturing positive perceptions about your business, and about yourself, too. The words we use to describe our work and ourselves go a long way in building strong recognition for who you are and what you do.
I'm not saying that words alone will make customers see past a dirty truck and a T-shirt as a company uniform. Marketing isn't about any one successful tactic as much as a combination of many. But even a contractor who takes pride in his truck and appearance can still put his foot in his mouth with word choices he may take for granted.
Let's look at commonly used words we may use every day and discuss some alternatives:
Try asking for a labor breakdown at a parking lot, a florist, a hairdresser, a restaurant, a tailor, etc. They'll look at you strange, and plumbing professionals need to do the same. Circumvent this by using the term itemization, when your technicians perform multiple procedures.
Use the term client. "Customer" is a low-brow, retailer term. PHC firms provide a service, not a commodity.
Sounds like something a dog leaves. Instead, use the word, retainer that's applied toward a service.
The term "diagnosis" has been used on many plumbing professional's contracts. The problem is, if you contract to "diagnose" something and you fail to do so, you could theoretically be subject to a breach of contract. Avoid problems instead of creating their potential, so use the terms observations and recommendations.
Almost seems like an oxymoron. Plus, "fixed" doesn't have a positive connotation in this setting. Try using set price.
Use the term assistant.
Use we instead. You don't want to give the impression you work out of your home -- even if you do.
Can you imagine the medical profession referring to itself as an "industry?" Why wouldn't they? Marketing! Use the term profession instead.
Since contractors can be taken advantage of by dishonest homeowners, use the term contract. The legal definition of a contract is 1) an offer, 2) an acceptance, and 3) for a consideration.
Shaquille O'Neil doesn't "invoice" the owner of the Lakers. Since invoices contain the requirements of a contract, refer to them as that. I have heard some plumbing firms shy away from use of the term contract, believing it to be too militant. If you feel that way, use agreement.
Job is often used interchangeably with "work." Refer to things you do as procedures or services.
Use products. A surgeon doesn't use "parts" to operate on you, he or she uses "products."
Use the term symptom instead. A "problem" is usually synonymous with the cause of the symptom. Labeling it a symptom removes you from being blamed for failure to correctly diagnose.
I know I will receive some arrows on this one, but it seems as if anyone and everyone is a "service technician" these days. It lacks any form of standards like the union-inspired terms of apprentice and journeymen. Using these words is an excellent way to differentiate your field staff from 95 percent of the other firms practicing in your area. Just make sure that if there is a licensure requirement in your area that your firm complies with it.
Can you imagine a doctor saying, "I have to charge a lot. What I do takes a lotta hard work!" Instead, use the term service. If you must convey how laborious the task to be performed is, then explain how demanding or involved the procedure is.
While using upscale terminology alone won't make a sow's ear into a silk purse, making such a change costs nothing. How about it, colleagues?