Any salesman or saleswoman worth the title will tell you that getting in front of the customer is the goal of the sales call. It’s one thing to make calls telephonically, but a whole different thing to actually get face to face with the person who makes the buying decisions, whether that person is the owner of a home, the CEO or owner of a business.
How much better is it that service/repair tradesmen are actually being asked by the decision maker to come in to their home or business?
A service person invited into the customer’s home or business has already passed the first hurdle of the sales call; getting that face-to-face meeting. A knowledgeable craftsman, with a modicum of personality, has the advantage of not only being in front of the customer who does the buying, but also has that person’s attention, interest and respect. That respect is based upon the customers’ assumption that, as a professional, the tradesman has the knowledge and the skills necessary to diagnose, repair or replace whatever problem he has been called upon to fix. Further, the customer assumes that the craftsman is knowledgeable about all facets of the industry and can be relied on to provide factual information when asked.
Having said that, assuming you or your service people are well versed on the latest and best new technologies out there, why not talk to the customer about them? With the current societal emphasis on conservation of resources and “green” technology, as well as convenience, it shouldn’t be all that hard to engage your clients on all the advantages of the new products that are available.
In many cases, the customers themselves will ask for your advice, either because they are curious as to what is out there, or simply because they want something new. If you are being called on to repair an older kitchen faucet, as an example, showing the customer a new touchless faucet and its advantages is a no-brainer. Likewise, describing the advantages of new water saving models when repairing an old 3-gpm flush toilet makes good sense as well. Even old shower heads are fair game for selling up to the newer, water saver models.
Then, of course, there is taking in the lifestyles of your customers. A little observation can yield all sorts of information to the savvy serviceman. That information can then be used to start conversations and to tailor suggestions to that particular client. A plumber friend of mine tells the story of how he turned a faucet repair service call into a total kitchen remodel; while doing a repair on the kitchen faucet, he began to notice that the residential kitchen in which he was working had a lot of expensive equipment and was really nicely appointed. He commented on this to the owner. The man told my friend that his wife was a gourmet chef and that he, also, dabbled in the culinary arts.
Never one to pass up a sales opportunity, my friend asked if they prepared a lot of soups. The client replied that they, in fact, loved to make soups. Without missing a beat, my friend suggested that they might need a pot filler at the stove. The customer’s eyes got wide, and therein lies the tale of a very lucrative kitchen remodel. In the end, my friend’s simple observation as well as his understanding of kitchens and equipment, netted him a very nice paycheck.
Another area that produces sales opportunities is this: Why does it take so long to get hot water to the shower? Ever have someone ask you that question, or one like it? Selling up to an under the vanity recirculating pump is an economical and effective way to solve the problem and, perhaps end up as a bath remodel.
Those are only a few examples of selling up. Not every job will turn into a kitchen remodel or a full bath remodel, but it is not a stretch to see how they can happen. Not all of your customers will have the financial ability to make large investments like that, but selling up isn’t about the big score anyway, or shouldn’t be. Being observant about all aspects of your customer’s lifestyle makes you better at your job. Just as doctors a century ago tailored their care to the lifestyles and residences of their patients, so too can you or your service people tailor your salesmanship to your clients.
Increasing your bottom line by selling products, or your services, more effectively and with greater accuracy is an easy goal to achieve. It doesn’t take a lot of training (some, but not a lot) and your customers will actually appreciate your interest on their behalf. Surely there will be some customers that will simply ignore your suggestions and offers, but there are plenty more who will accept them. Selling up is an easy way to improve your bottom line.
The Brooklyn, N.Y.-born author is a retired third generation master plumber. He founded Sunflower Plumbing & Heating in Shirley, N.Y., in 1975 and A Professional Commercial Plumbing Inc. in Phoenix in 1980. He holds residential, commercial, industrial and solar plumbing licenses and is certified in welding, clean rooms, polypropylene gas fusion and medical gas piping. He can be reached at [email protected].