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Some business basics to get you more customers

by Alison Bradford

Post image for Some business basics to get you more customers

Last week I had a plumbing problem.

The pump we have fitted to work our shower packed up. It started to make an even louder noise than usual, and the burning smell coming from it made me realise we’d need professional help to sort it out.

So, I got a list of local plumbers from a quick Google search and started ringing around.

I rang 8 in total. Of those 8, 3 rang out with no answer or voicemail, and 5 went to voicemail. Of the 5 that I left messages for, 1 rung me back within half an hour to say that the plumber would call me later that day to arrange to call round.

Feeling annoyed at how difficult it was to get a plumber, I got on with my work.

At a meeting later that day, I happened to mention that I was having a problem getting a plumber and the guy I was talking to said he knew one. In fact, there was one in his referral marketing / networking group, and he would give him my number.

A couple of hours later, the plumber he knew sent me a text with his details on to call him.

In the meantime, the only plumber who did respond to my voicemail called me back and arranged to call round early the next morning.

As I was impressed with the response  from the other plumber, I also got him to call round the next day.

Let’s call the plumber who answered my voicemail, plumber A, and the plumber who was referred to me, plumber B.

So, plumber A turns up the next morning and takes a look at where the pump is. Immediately he starts moaning, saying it’s not in a good place, why was it put there (like I know or care? I just want my shower working again!), the pipes were messy and so on and so on. Now I really don’t care about all of this – I just want the pump fixed so I can take a shower!

Plumber A says he’ll get back to me by the end of the day with a quote.

Plumber B calls round later, takes a look, identifies a couple of extra leaks that need looking at too, gives a rough estimate and say he’ll get back with a price later that day.

About 3 hours later, plumber B texts me with a price and saying he can do the work the next day at 11.30.

The price was definitely more than I wanted to pay, but the thought of having my shower working again the next day was very appealing.

I though I’d wait until I had the other quote in before deciding.

That evening, I had a text from plumber A to say he’d had a busy day and would try and get a price to me tomorrow.

Annoyed with this response, but not ready to accept the quote from plumber B, I rang plumber A to see if he could give me a rough idea of price. His price was a little less than plumber B (£300 instead of £350. These pumps are very expensive apparently!). Plumber A said he may be able to get round next Tuesday to do the work.

My decision was made – I’d rather pay a little more, have the job done sooner, and by someone who seems more interested in doing the work.

Plumber B was hired! And, I’m pleased to say, he turned up when he said he would, did the job, and my shower is now working better than ever!

So, whilst reading this story of mine, I’m sure you’ve already identified some key basics that all businesses should have in place in order to win more customers.

Here’s my summing up (and then I’m off to set up my new business school for plumbers!):

1. Make it easy for potential customers to contact you

If you don’t have someone manning your phone, set up a voicemail. Make sure you clearly state your name and business (so they know they’re through to the right person), ask them to leave a message including their name and contact details, say when you’ll get back to them.

2. Don’t diss your competitors

When you’re talking to a potential customer, it’s never a good idea to start moaning about work they’ve already had done, or picking fault with what a competitor has told them.

3. Set expectations and then deliver on them

If you say you are going to do something, then do it! Nobody wants to hear excuses, we’re all busy people.

4. People are willing to pay more to get their problems fixed reliably and quickly

We’d all like to get a bargain, but we’re also prepared to pay more for quality and speed.

5. Referrals can be a great way to find suppliers and customers

How are you encouraging people to refer new clients to your business?

As you can probably tell, I get frustrated when I see businesses making some really basic mistakes that are losing them customers and, ultimately, profit.

But, we can all be guilty of slipping into bad habits or simply missing the obvious things at times.

Action for today: Consider these 5 lessons above and apply them to your business. How confident are you that you have these basics in place?

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire August 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Hi Alison,
I had the exact same experience with plumbers this week too! My bath was leaking into the kitchen and I called 7 plumbers. They apparently don’t need the business because 3 let their phones ring out with no voicemail. One had a voicemail but he never rang me back and still hasn’t done 5 days later. One did finally answer his phone and then gave me a quote of £90 for every half an hour he was at the house even though he was on the other end of the phone and couldn’t even see what the problem was. He wanted me to commit to this price before he came round and he obviously would have taken 32 mins or 64 mins to get the extra money. Ridiculous! The last two were referrals and we chose one to do the work who was helpful, punctual and reasonably priced. I think I am in the wrong business and obviously need to retrain as a plumber since they are all so rich they don’t need to phone us back! : )

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Alison Bradford August 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

Hi Claire, It’s obviously not just the plumbers where I live then! Think there is definitely an opportunity to do some ‘running a business’ training with plumbers….at least it inspired my blog post for the week! A good reminder too of how the basic things like ‘helpful’ and ‘punctual’ still count for an awful lot. Let’s hope we don’t need another one anytime soon 🙂

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