Dumb Mistakes for Trades People that are Costing you Lost Income #1

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Award winning business coach, Andrew Priestley interviewed 317 customers about their 'nightmare' bad service stories. He discovered 39 mistakes that are costing you lost business. Andrew Priestley www.andrewpriestley.com coaches businesses worldwide on Skype.

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Dumb Mistakes for Trades People that are Costing you Lost Income #1

  1. 1. The 39 Dumbest Mistakes That Are Costing You Lost Income if You Operate a Trades or Service Business In this special series by Andrew Priestley, customers retell their worst ‘service industry’ experiences, and say what they don’t like about doing business with tradespeople. How the report came about It is based on the proven concept: 1) that if you ask your clients to identify the key frustrations they have with you, your business or your industry… they will usually tell you; 2) you then have a pretty good to-do list of things to fix in your own business that your clients will appreciate; 3) that results in more new sales and repeat business, referrals and therefore profits. The anecdotal research was completed for a home improvement centre that supplies the home improvement industry - trades, sub contractors, service providers, to-site and on-site suppliers. We trailed the data and guess what? If you take to heart the recommendations and make the small changes to some of these items, your profits will improve.
  2. 2. The participants We interviewed 317 customers - new, long standing and lapsed customers –from a sample of 500 from their larger database. The participants were asked a couple of open ended questions about their concerns, frustrations and complaints with: 1) any recent specific experience with a service provider 2) the ‘service industry’ in general – carpet cleaners, tradesmen, bricklayers, carpenters, fix-it men, plumbers, dog washers, pest controllers – basically anyone who provides services in the home; and 3) the home improvement center. (I have not included the feedback about the home improvement center in this report). Tip: Your customers are a gold mine of valuable information about you and your business … but you have to ask them. Any business can survey their customers but note there is a structure to conducting full blown market research - if it is to be valid and reliable and statistically significant. More on that another time. For our purposes just regularly asking all your customers for feedback will still offer immense benefits. As a rule of thumb: you can get general information from eight people (a focus group), better detail from 32, more useful information from 120 and great ‘shades of grey’ from 1200 customers. (This type of research can cost you about $100+ per person interviewed.) But you can do a lot yourself inexpensively like counter or post-service delivery questionnaires or have someone phone or visit a customer for about a
  3. 3. ten-minute chat. We recorded the interviews so we could generally collate the feedback, transcribe the data and use it as a training tool. The participants Understand that customers were specifically asked to focus on their concerns or complaints. And there was no prompting! (i.e. making suggestions, giving them examples to get them started.) We determined: - the service being provided - the critical incident or incidents - the gender of the tradesperson (i.e. male or female) - perceived age group - perceived level of expertise - dissatisfaction rating on a scale of 0-5 ; 0 being Very Dissatisfied through to 5 being Very Satisfied. The comments were then tabulated on an Excel spreadsheet. Basically every time a certain complaint was mentioned, it scored a point. (This is a very general overview of the full procedure we followed.) While there were many complaints, they clustered down to 39. (A future study will complete the Factor Analysis of the 39 Complaints). This report lists, in descending order, the 39 MOST mentioned complaints e.g., Number 1 in this case is the thing complained about the most; and so on.
  4. 4. Four Phases This study showed that customers are telling us what upset them and we noticed four distinct ‘moments of truth’ or phases of the total transaction: 1) the canvassing/lead generation 2) the quoting for business 3) the service fulfillment 4) the post service delivery complaints follow up Importantly, we tried to elicit the key reasons why the tradesperson didn’t get the work irrespective of the competitiveness of the quote, expertise or availability. Interestingly, our panel agreed that ALL are completely avoidable; and potentially losing the tradesperson the sale. Note: The word ‘he’ is used throughout this report and sadly, in most cases the interviewee is actually referring to a male service provider! This point was cross-referenced very carefully. There were instances where the complaint was about a female service provider, but these were few. Tip :If you are MALE, read this very carefully because it probably applies to YOU … exactly.
  5. 5. PART TWO: The Complaints Here are the 39 key complaints plus commentaries, recommendations and tips. NOTE: Since we first wrote this report four years ago, the number one and two spots have changed. The NUMBER ONE COMPLAINT is: #1. Didn’t turn up on time, as agreed, when he said he would; or at all! Basically trades people are notorious for being late or not even showing up. It appears to be the universal complaint. Everyone values their time – even if they are not employed. A LOT of customers arrange to take time off from work to attend meetings with tradespeople … who show up late or not at all. Tip: Show up on time as agreed. When we interviewed tradespeople who were guilty of this problem we found that they literally spread themselves thin time-wise and geographically. For example, we found an almost across the board problem with time management (i.e. we were staggered at how many business owners didn’t run a diary, or didn’t allow for travel time); and tradespeople who would book their jobs at very distinct and separate geographic locations – which almost guaranteed they’d be late for the next job or appointment. For example, booking a job nearby and the next job across town, and then next job somewhere else remote. Apart from being a costly in-transit experience, the customer is the biggest loser.
  6. 6. We recommend a hub or nesting or farming concept. How does this work? Say you are a pest controller. You market and service your immediate suburbs rather than try and market to all suburbs. One of our clients found that 80% of their business came from within a 3km radius of base. This is nesting. In the real estate industry you farm your territory. In some cases you have a strict territory and you cannot work outside that area, so you have to farm it. One service provider we heard about changed their business name to something like Mow-On Time and they had a policy of arriving as agreed or the service was free. This meant that they really sorted out the at- office logistics. They worked out average travel times to various suburbs within their territory so they could arrive on time even allowing for peak hour traffic etc. The referral business they have built just by arriving on time as agreed is proof that their clients value timeliness. If you are always late and not punctual for meetings or appointments with customers re-read this point. Incidentally, this was also the number one reason customer switched suppliers! So just being late could be costing you a fortune. And not even showing is definitely bad for your business. NEXT: Next in the series: #2. They are so lazy! They don’t want to do anymore than they have to. WANT THE FULL REPORT? Email coachbiz@hotmail.com. It is FREE until December 31, 2013.
  7. 7. About the author Andrew Priestley is a multi-award winning business coach and he specialises in working established SMEs – usually registered companies with 2-5 employees, and usually 5-10 sub contractors. Invariably it is a family-run business, capital intense (buying plant, vehicles and equipment, plus contractor costs), they usually employ a book keeper and while they have good lag information they don;’t usually have good management accounts intel. Almost always there is panic around sales tax (or VAT/GST/corporation tax) time; they invariably have payroll tax issues; and there is a reliance on refinancing; so you can assume cash flow issues. The key frustration are around cash flow and lifestyle. In most cases, the business can imporve with imporved marketing and sales and it can be as simple as rectifying 3-5 of the items mentioned in this report. Andrew helps companies worldwide to improve revenues through six growth strategies designed especially for SMEs. If you’d like a obligation free chat email him at coachbiz@hotmail.com and he will sort out a phone or Skype chat.

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