Last month we talked about customer communication, and how important it is to be connected to your customers. This month we need to discuss what type of customers you need in order to have a successful business, and what type of customer is necessary to make a successful connection.
I can almost assure you just about every pool man has a customer or customers who will not accept extra charges or customers who at the very least complain vociferously about extra charges. These are not the most desirable customers, and they are not the type of customer with whom you can easily connect. While this is not a revelation, it is a statement most pool men need to hear on a continuous basis.
I find pool men all across the country who are extremely nervous about losing a customer. While I will agree you should never want to lose a “good” customer, losing a “bad” customer is many times a blessing.
It is important to remember the reason you are in business, and the reason is not just to have customers. The reason is to perform a professional service and be adequately compensated for this service. If a customer cannot see your value if you have true value, then losing that customer is not altogether a bad occurrence.
As you evaluate your customer base, make sure you evaluate as many of your service segments as possible. Determine which customers do or do not complain about service rate increases. Determine which customers do or do not complain about equipment repairs. Determine which customers do or do not complain about extra service items. E.G. filter cleans, conditioner, etc.
When you determine which customers do not complain about your services, you have found the customers you should spend your valuable time trying to make that personal business connection so increasing service rates and charges for repair items becomes much easier.
Customers who complain about some extra service items, but not all of your extra service items, are not as bad as customers who complain about everything. This is another common sense statement, but many pool men do not understand that some customers will complain about some items because they are not aware of the reason behind the extra service charge or they do not understand the need for the extras service item. Many customers will not ask the reason for the repair or extra service item for fear of looking silly.
For the sometimes complaining customer, all you need is to educate this customer in a way that helps to show your value. We have already discussed inspection sheets and newsletters, but these are two great ways to eliminate the part-time complainer.
I just had one of my clients from Florida relay an interesting incident that occurred on his route. He purchased a route with two grouchy customers. After purchasing the route, he immediately started sending out the inspection sheet. One of the grouchy customers actually came out and thanked him for doing something no other pool man does, and the other customer, while not making a direct statement concerning the inspection sheet, is actually smiling at him.
I am not saying an inspection sheet alone will convert every customer into a believer, but they do help; and if you can save just a few customers, and make them “good” customers with an inspection sheet, why not try?
Once you have made your evaluation as to which customers are “good” and which customers are “bad,” it is now time to make a concerted effort to change the mindset of all customers. Remember, even if a customer does not complain openly about your charges, they may be closet complainers. You could lose a “good” customer without ever knowing the reason for the loss.
Make sure you educate your customers through your connection with your customers. Whether you use an inspection sheet, a newsletter or e-mail, make sure your customers are always aware of what services are needed and how much money these extra service charges will save them in the future.
If once you have made your final evaluation of your customer base, and you have a hand full of customers who are just a nightmare, you can raise the service rate of these customers to a level where it makes servicing them bearable or the customer looks for another pool man.
This type of route culling will actually help you be more successful and will help you avoid the dreaded burnout many pool men suffer from many years of having to suffer poor payers and customers with horrible attitudes.
Wouldn’t it be great if you woke up every morning and went to work knowing all you had to face were twenty smiles?
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