Beat Bad Times with Good Service

Whether you follow the news or not, it is hard not to realize that the world is going through some rapid changes, which, for independent contractors at least, are generally for the worse. Particularly for those who run family businesses, the challenges ahead are increasingly tough.

Our industry has been hit quite hard. Difficulties in the economy are all over the news. People need to work longer just to get the minimum wage, whereas the recession and the lost jobs have been especially hard for small businesses.

The job of a contractor is getting tougher and tougher in this environment, regardless of the size of his business. Nonetheless, it is still possible to overcome these obstacles; you don’t have to let them put brakes on your growth potential, even during this period of uncertainty. Most industries have taken the approach of redefining their businesses, cutting down on the bonuses that used to accompany their product by default, or discover other less-than-optimal ways to minimize their expenses; but you could simply change your behavior by returning to the basics of good service.

Observe the way you conduct your business. You offer your customers a product, which is your way of helping them, answering their questions and giving solutions to their problems. This means that your success is solidly built on the best possible service for your customers. But this is also the reason why many contractors are struggling at the moment; they provide premium services at really low prices, or even for free. But in today’s circumstances, it is impossible for businesses to suffer losses systematically and continue operate normally. Even more so in the department of service, which has seen costs go through the ceiling without corresponding increases in what customers pay.

This means that, especially now, giving our most prized asset, our service, for free, is out of the question. Service provision costs have skyrocketed. Everything from transportation, labor, fuel, insurances, and communications are consuming the profits of companies throughout the country, even the most stable ones. Service at a loss must become a thing of the past.

How do you define good service?

Is it the delivery of equipment or products? Maybe providing help to your client with their heating systems? Perhaps you help your customer by giving him the service of the future, with the price of the present. There may be several aspects of providing service, but it is still what makes you stand out from your competition.

During hard times such as these, getting off track and losing focus is more than easy. You can gather with your business peers and contemplate on the difficulties of the situation.

Don’t indulge into self-pity, but challenge your future with new determination. Take a decisive step and raise the level of services that your customer enjoys from you. But this time around, see that your implement a profitable model. You don’t have to lose from service if you design it properly. On the contrary, if approached correctly, it may even become the most financially rewarding part of your business.  

Focus on becoming the best you can be by offering answers, solutions and help to your clients for their most common issues. Due to the recess, the number of potential buyers for your products may be limited in certain parts of the country. However, this doesn’t negate the need for service relating to your products. After all, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems don’t care about the economy –they simply break down due to use. So, if you can change your focus and make service your core business targeting your current clients, you will overcome the crisis.

How much will it cost you to start a service department that actually makes money during this difficult period? In all honesty, services may provide all the profit you need to escape any hardship. It will rejuvenate your cash flow when your traditional sales go down. Concentrate on increasing your profits through services that make money and you will stop worrying about cutting expenses.  

Begin by adopting a positive attitude regarding the way your loyal customer may use your company’s services at the moment. Remember that you, as an important stakeholder in the contracting industry, have an unfair advantage over the average “next-door” contractor.

Advantages of giving good service:

  1. Your Customers – You set off your refocused business with an already strong client base. This is a dream come true for any service provider, to begin his business with a solid list of loyal customers. Your current client list is too much of a good thing.  There are some who believe that your customers would require receiving extra services for free, or a minimal cost at best. The answer to this must be a definitive NO! Only you can define value. Several examples exist in the contracting industry where a double-digit profit is made on the same service that used to be offered for free, for a variety of tasks ranging from forklifts to heating equipment. How did this come about? It was simply the fact of these businesspeople realizing that, for a customer, getting great service needs to be paid accordingly. On the other hand, a similar realization was made that free or cheap services are not valued at all. Trust the basic commerce law, stating that “you will get what you paid for.”
  2. Time management – You get productive time from your other services when no service work exists. The biggest problem of most service and repair contractors is that keeping busy for the whole duration of the year is really hard, so they end up losing valuable employees in the meantime between seasons. However, there is more in contracting business than just normal service work. Satellite services like water and air quality, earth-friendly solutions and building performance can provide work to techs and service employees and sustain them in the time between repair calls. Such opportunities are likely to draw the attention of service techs who’ve had enough of being fired every year by conventional contractors.  
  3. Overhead is already present. Why not make the most out of it? You can’t change the facts. Everything that comprises overhead, things or people, can be repurposed toward increasing productivity. For example, if you answer the phone, then take it a step further and start calling clients to notify them of your new service portfolio. If you use CRM software, use it to find out which customers have outdated systems that could use an upgrade. Taking advantage of your overhead to make a profit out of it can be done in a million ways.  Return to the roots that nourished your initial business dream to start servicing your customers. You can do things the conventional way, cutting down expenses and returning to your core business. However, if you approach your customer the way you did when you were taking your first steps in business, you will see that they rely on YOU to upgrade the safety and efficiency of their homes.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Just approach your customers, get personal with them and socialize as if you were their friend. After all, the ones who do good service to the society will find benefit in return. This is how things work in nature. By helping others, you will find good in return. It is as certain to happen, as apples falling from the trees.

Have faith in this natural law. Offer others the kind of help that comes from inside. Give this help the form of a new kind of service. Provide the kind of service that makes you proud of it. The kind that draws a big smile on your face every time you meet a good customer on the street.

What will you be leaving behind? Your business will offer endless chances of providing services and profiting from it. It’s really up to you to spot them. Don’t waste your time complaining about hardships and difficult circumstances. By doing so, you let others get an edge over you.

It is in difficult times that our actions matter the most because they lead to success when things get better. The ones who concentrate on their customers’ interests and carefully satisfy their needs are the ones that have the highest chance to succeed. Secure your legacy. Choose to be remembered as a great service provider, and you are sure to be remembered as a role model.