Tradesmen and marketing

I could keep this short. But I won’t.

I believe it’s the same the world over.

Due to the harsh winter we had before and during Christmas, several of our pipes froze and burst. In one particularly dramatic episode during which I was on my own in our utility room when water started pouring through the now steaming light fittings, I finally went into meltdown.

As my husband has been clinically proven to be allergic to organising any form of maintenance to the house, I despondently rang for a local plumber, confident that he MIGHT turn up in a few days. Right enough, he sounded less than enthusiastic and was typically vague.

Imagine my surprise the next morning when said plumber phoned and said he was on his way. He duly arrived, having been picked up in someone’s 4×4 (3 feet of snow) and spent the next few hours locating and fixing all the bursts, finally quoting what was an extremely reasonable price. We were so delighted we drove him straight to the cashpoint, our faith in tradesmen restored.

Fast forward to March and we suddenly began to smell damp in our bathrooms which was quickly followed by soggy carpets. Husband bravely volunteered to fix the problem and did so – for several days. Yesterday unfortunately, I espied a rather jaunty toadstool in the corner of the bathroom, behind the toilet. I know I wasn’t hallucinating as it wasn’t one of those fetching red and white toadstools and did not have the benefit of a gnome sitting astride it with a fishing rod.

This was quickly followed yesterday evening by a nocturnal visit to the ensuite, where I discovered my bathroom had in fact been replaced by a swamp. I plodged back to the bedroom and voiced my concern. Husband immediately allayed my fears by mumbling “I hope it hasn’t seeped through the kitchen ceiling”. Result – 3 hours’ sleep.

This morning saw me once again on the phone to aforementioned plumber. Sadly this time I can’t get an answer, he hasn’t listed his mobile and has no answerphone. Which brings me to my point (you knew I’d get there eventually) – do tradesmen, the pillars of every community, actually need to do any marketing?

There are very few industries or companies who can get away with doing virtually no marketing whatsoever. It seems that every single tradesperson, whether they be plumber, joiner or electrician, is absolutely run off their feet with business at any time of year and couldn’t possibly cope with any more.

But is that any reason to treat potential and actual clients so abysmally? We all hear dreadful stories about shoddy work, no-shows, extended tea breaks and extortionate prices. Of course some tradespeople, like my beloved plumber, are exceptions (I hope) to the rule. However, I think it is disgraceful that we customers have simply been forced to accept whatever is thrown at us, simply because we have no choice.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing for a local tradesperson to have a professional website which can easily be found on Google, highlighting the following competitor differentiations and service offerings?

  • My customer service charter states that I will return your call within 1 hour and visit your premises within 24 hours.
  • If I am not available, leave a message on my answerphone and I will return your call within 1 hour.
  • If I am not able to fix your problem on the first visit, the second visit will be charged at half price.
  • I will notify you of the approximate date and time I will arrive, to within 1 hour. If I fail to show up in that time, the job will be charged at half price
  • You will be given a fixed quotation on arrival, before I begin work. If you are not satisfied with the price, you are free to source another tradesperson.

Can you imagine what something like this would do for the repuation of that person? An excellent review from a client is the best marketing there is. Tradespeople would do well to remember that. You never know, the day may well come when they regret acting so unprofessionally.

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