Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi started every training camp with a return to the fundamentals. Periodically, you should return to the fundamentals with your plumbers. Just as Lombardi’s emphasis on football essentials led to a Packers championship, your emphasis on basic service skills can lead your team to champion-level sales and profitability.
Lombardi did not make any assumptions about what his players knew or did not know. That’s why he opened training camp with a pigskin in one hand and declared, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”
You may not want to grab a pipe wrench and deliver a plumbing version of Lombardi’s speech, but every so often you should return to service fundamentals.
1. Exhibit good grooming
In a survey of more than 3,500 customers of Service Nation Alliance members, respondents were asked what made them uncomfortable about a service provider. The No. 1 response was “poor grooming” — mentioned by 81% of respondents. Talk about fundamental!
You expect your plumbers to keep their service trucks clean. You also should expect them to stay clean. Set the expectation that they start every day with a shower, wear a clean uniform and keep their hair neat. If necessary, work a volume deal with a local barber and offer your service team free bi-weekly trims.
It should come as no surprise that empirical research has found smiling results in increased purchases and a willingness to pay higher prices. Furthermore, smiling releases endorphins, which are a naturally occurring drug in the human body that makes you feel better and boosts your self-esteem.
Despite the benefits, we still need to be reminded to smile. Remind your team to smile for every customer.
3. Stand up straight
People who stand up straight are considered more trustworthy. They appear more confident. Slouching can actually stimulate distrust. Some of your plumbers will have naturally good posture. Others will not even be aware they lack it. You might need to take pictures to show them their stance. If any bristle at your attempt to improve their posture, remind them this will help their sales and income (assuming you utilize some form of performance pay).
4. Make eye contact
Everyone has heard the expression, “I don’t trust a man who won’t look me in the eye.” Eye contact is important. It shows that you are paying attention to the customer, you consider what the customer is saying as important and you are trustworthy.
5. Repeat for clarity
Train your team to reframe and repeat back any customer questions to ensure they are properly understood. This also gives the plumber time to think of a response.
6. Present options
If your plumbers only present a single choice, then the option is it or nothing. Do not be surprised when some opt for nothing. A better approach is to give people the choice between something and something else.
On every repair, consider giving options to repair, replace or upgrade. Do not be surprised if some opt for a replacement or an upgrade.
7. Shut up
Once the options are presented, the only closing technique a plumber needs is silence. Let the customer decide. The situation provides all the pressure necessary. The plumber simply needs to wait attentively.
The customer might ask, “What would you do if it was your home?” If so, the plumber should answer honestly, but honestly in light of the customer’s situation. In his own home, the plumber might repair something because he can and it’s less expensive. However, if he lacks that ability, has to wait for a service professional when something breaks and has the means, he just might choose a replacement or an upgrade as the better option.
Playing sports as a kid, you were probably told, “Practice like you play and play like you practice.” It was true then. It’s true today. If you want your plumbers to smile, stand up straight, look people in the eye, clarify questions and present options, they need to practice. Role play with every service meeting. Consider holding additional training meetings throughout the week.
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