Plumbing sales tips are less about learning how to upsell, and more about learning how to provide value and create loyal customers. A home service professional’s greatest resource in growing their business is nurturing loyal customer relationships and providing the ultimate in-home service experience.
Loyal customers can be inexpensive marketing tools for home services professionals. Providing great experiences can jump start an effective referral program.
“83% of customers are willing to refer after a positive experience.” --Nielsen Survey
Did you know referral advertising is fast becoming the most trusted factor when making a purchasing decision across buyer demographics?
Every job presents an opportunity to convert a first time customers into repeat business and brand ambassadors. Look the part, have the right attitude, communicate and provide relevant services. This is the key to increasing plumbing sales.
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So what are the steps to increase plumbing sales on every call and build customer loyalty?
1. Start with a Great First Impression
According to research studies, people form judgments in about seven seconds. Set the tone on arrival by developing a good rapport with the homeowner. This can also serve to quickly eliminate negative perceptions of the plumbing profession.
Make sure service vehicles are clean and branded. What the company vehicles look like sends a message to the customer. They should be able to identify the company and know the service professional takes pride in their appearance.
Carry the appropriate tools and products to plan for each job. Maintain tool and product inventory to benefit everyone. It can reduce travel time and costs, maximize service calls and allow for additional repairs without having to reschedule.
Customers will make a judgement based on appearance. It is expected that a plumbing professional will get dirty on the job, it’s a labor intensive trade. But how service professionals present themselves signals to the customer how they will perform the job. Will it be with care and attention or without regard and sloppy?
Pro Tip: Always carry one or two spare uniforms to change into; show up to the last job looking just as smart as the first job!
Smile and be positive. It might sound basic, but think about why a homeowner has placed a service call. Plumbing problems can be quite stressful. It is the professional’s responsibility to fix the problem, but also to provide a great customer experience.
Introduce yourself by name and use the homeowner’s name respectfully. This is the first step to developing a personal connection with the customer.
Solidify a meaningful connection by finding something of common interest. Service professionals don't have to go straight to the problem, learn how to make small talk. Comment on artwork, pet the dogs, be nice to the kids -- but, be authentic. Setting the homeowner at ease is just as important as repairing the plumbing problem.
2. Change Your Mindset about Plumbing Sales
Steven is a professional plumber and water filtration expert in San Diego. He recommends that home service professionals keep their eyes open and communicate with the customer every step of the way. It is all about the mindset.
“You have to walk into the home knowing you are there to protect your customer and provide value. If you believe in your services and products, the rest is easy.”
Home service professionals are skilled trades people, not salesmen. Why attempt to implement up-selling tactics that aren’t in alignment with the company values?
What can change to benefit sales and customers is the philosophy of why a home service professional is on the job. Make the goal to help the customer protect their most valuable asset, their home. When the mindset is adding value, closing a sale or selling an additional service becomes much easier.
3. Look for Additional Service Opportunities
Customers are not skilled plumbers. They called professionals for help. Often, customers have more than one plumbing problem, but they may not know. Offer them information on the issue and offer a solution.
Water bottles in the recycling and store bought water filter pitchers are a clue the customer may benefit from water treatment. Educate the customer on the quality of their drinking and bathing water. Share how easy it is to get bottle quality water and reduce the carbon footprint of plastic bottles.
Signs of corrosion or heavy scale buildup can lead to a conversation about water descaling or water softening systems.
Check the water pressure on every service call. This should be routine for every plumber, whether the call is for snaking a drain or installing a new gas line. This is a perfect tool to address the potential problems high water pressure can cause and how a Pressure Reducing Valve could be the ideal solution.
Older water heaters can also provide an opportunity to educate customers. Let customers know their water heater is getting close to its replacement time. Share possibilities of waiting until a problem arises versus replacing proactively. Many customers will be happy to avoid a potential disaster when they are aware it exists.
Recurring drain clogs open the door for sewer camera inspections. Helping the customer understand potential issues down the line will help them to plan for future problems.
4. Clear Communication is Key
When home service professionals are focused on getting the sale, they are not focused on helping the customer. The best way to help the customer is through clear communication and setting proper expectations such as using on-my-way texts using your plumbing software.
Speak the customer's language. Chances are, homeowners are not plumbing savvy, that's why they called out the professionals. Use simple terms to describe the plumbing issue and how you will solve it.
Provide updates and invite the customer to view the progress of the job. If there are DIY tools they can use, share them and add value to each service through education and teaching.
Set clear expectations of time and pricing. Establish transparency about how long the repair might take and the pricing structure. This will go a long way to reduce sticker shock when the customer receives the invoice. It also allows for potential pivots when a problem arises. Advise them of some potential pitfalls that may change the scope of work.
Pro Tip: When a customer is given regular updates, they are more likely to say yes to additional repairs or services. They feel informed and trust the plumbing tech making the recommendation.
Present multiple options whenever possible to help facilitate the customer's decision. Provide homeowners with options for temporary repairs and permanent solutions side by side. This helps them to understand what is the right option for them. Share what you would do in their situation, but allow them to make the best choice for their budget and needs.
When presenting a repair or installation estimate, do so with a clear explanation of the “how and why” of the job. Remember, trust is important in building a quality customer relationship securing repeat business.
5. Share All Home Services with Pride
Cross promotion can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. When a home service professional offers more services than just plumbing, make sure to share these services with every customer.
Create fliers of additional services for plumbing techs to leave in the home.
Equip all field employees with the knowledge and tools to refer other services; offer incentives to secure in home leads.
Offer plumbing customers a discount for trying out a new service.
Ask about a customer's furnace, air conditioning unit, or electrical work. Simply bringing it up opens the door. They will most likely be happy to have their preferred plumber also provide quality HVAC services.
Don’t ignore any opportunity to share what services are available. The worst case scenario? The customer says no. But, it will put your name on the list when the need arises.
Sharing what you are an expert in is another piece of the relationship building puzzle. Why would a customer go elsewhere for something you can provide. But, they have to know about the services to use them.
Some Final Notes
The most valuable plumbing sales tools don't have to be complicated “tactics” learned in expensive sales training courses. In fact, those can often turn customers off and reinforce negative perceptions about plumbers.
The best tools are creating trust and engaging with homeowners. People are more likely to purchase from people they trust. Building that level of trust is all about a responsible approach to service calls.
Deliver a professional first impression and clear communication to guide customers’ decisions. When the focus to sell falls away, it is replaced with the desire to help solve problems -- a positive for customers and home service professionals.
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