Why should anyone call you?

Seriously … Why should anyone call you instead of one of your competitors?  Give me a reason.

Great service is not a reason.  Everyone claims to offer great service.

Telling the world you have great quality won’t do it.  Have you ever heard anyone tout poor or average quality?

The cheapest price might make you unique, but only temporarily.  In the plumbing trade there’s always someone willing to go out of business faster by pricing below cost and hoping to make it up on volume.

One plumbing company looks pretty much like every other plumbing company. Picking a company is less a selection than a game of eeny, meeny, miny, moe.  It’s a random action.  This explains why, in the past, so many plumbers scrambled to grab the first three positions in the Yellow Pages.

Because there’s so little differentiation, creating a clear brand position for your company can make a huge difference. The position, which is how you are perceived, should be clear and unique. No one else should be making the same claim. 

That doesn’t mean no one could make the claim. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether other companies can make the same claim, but who makes it first and loudest. This means you must market your position. If you aren’t marketing it, you’re winking in the dark. You may know what you’re doing, but no one else does.

Creating a strong brand position is not easy. Most contractors need help doing it. For starters, here are six proven strategies to creating a winning brand position.

Alleviate customer pain

Find out what customers consider painful about plumbing and take a position countering it. Ask, what scares customers most about calling a plumbing company? Is it dirty plumbers? Is it open-ended pricing?  Is it how the plumber will take care of the house? Is it a plumber taking advantage of a female homeowner’s lack of mechanical knowledge?

A good example of taking a position that alleviates customer pain is Benjamin Franklin Plumbing’s position. The company’s tagline is, “The Punctual Plumber,” a position to counter people’s fear that the plumber will keep them waiting.

Do not assume you know what scares people in your market. Ask people. Ask lots of people. Ask your customers when they call. Ask your friends. Ask people at church. Ask people at networking meetings.  Once you know what scares people, create a position around addressing the problem.

Social good

Associate your company with a social cause. An example is TOMS Shoes, who gives a free pair of shoes to a needy child with every pair of shoes sold. A Texas contractor operates a pink truck with the Susan G. Komen logo. He donates a percentage of his net profit for that truck to the Susan G. Komen foundation and positions his company as the contractor supporting a breast cancer cure. Other charities could range from school charities to the humane society. Green causes may revolve around reforestation efforts, water conservation programs, or wild river charities. You can even build a position as a company that only installs plumbing products made in America.

Credentials

A Dallas foundation repair company proclaims that they “wrote the book on foundation repair.” Indeed, the founder of the company did write a textbook on the field. By using this credential, the company was able to build a clearly differentiated position others couldn’t match.

What awards has your company won? What training have your people received? How have you been recognized by experts (or as experts)?  What publications have you written or been featured in?

Specialization

Create a position by declaring yourself to be specialist, rather than all things to all people. Rather than try to serve an entire major metropolitan area, focus on one country or one large suburb and declare it.  Become a product specialist like California’s Just Water Heaters. Declare yourself to be the plumber for the affluent, “Who deserve a higher level of service.” 

Guarantee

Domino’s Pizza built a multi-billion dollar corporation around the positioning statement of “30 minutes or it’s free” (the “free” part has since been dropped… thank you lawyers).  At the time, the average pizza delivery time was around 27 minutes. 

What can you guarantee? Arrival time? Water temperature? No questions asked, money back?  Clog free toilets?

Distinction

Do you have points of distinction you could build a position around? In Dallas, Ahron Katz positioned his company as “the company with the little red trucks.”  Another plumbing company in the Dallas areas calls itself “the pink plumbers.” Of course, they drive pink trucks.

Are you the oldest plumbing company in your area?  That’s a position.  Are you the biggest company?  That’s a position.  Are you not the oldest or biggest?  Maybe you’re the oldest or biggest “family owned” company.

You can make “fun” a position.  Before he sold it, Jack Simonson built Chicago’s Irish Plumber into the nation’s largest single location residential plumbing service company.  Jack is trying to do it again with the Scottish Plumber. 

After a trip to Hawaii Texarkana contractor, John Price had a revelation. Hawaii was fun. He renamed his company from the Price Service Company to Aloha Air, played Hawaiian music on hold, and decked out his employees in logoed Hawaii shirts. Business has been booming ever since.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, which offers contractors content (downloadable business and marketing material), community (24/7/365 peer support), and cash (rebates).  It’s the world’s largest contractor alliance.  Check it out at Service Roundtable.com.

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