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Profitable world of service work: simple steps to build customer relationships

April 22, 2014
How to develop relationships with customers: Stay in contact with the owner. Get e-mail addresses and permission to send updates and tips about maintaining the work you've done. Tell 'em you can recommend other tradespeople they can trust.   Develop a small, but effective company newsletter and send it out monthly.  

Hello again from someone that's been there and only wants to help you avoid the mistakes I made. That might be a strange motive for some to ponder, but it's the truth or I wouldn't be writing this.

For my own inscrutable reasons I get one he**-of-a kick out of others' success.  I'll be glad to tell you why if interested, but it has to do with an erratic past that resulted in a life philosophy built upon service. Uh, this is gittin' a little "deep," so I'll move on.   

Retired master plumber Ed O’Connell.

If most of you small(er) sub-contractors (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofers, etc.) think I've been totally focused on service work ... you're right. How-some-ever, I totally agree that construction is a great and enjoyable way to start your careers, especially while you're young(er). 

Construction should be low overhead, and, kept to a relatively short period of years, you can gain experience, maximize profits, and reinforce your learning before your body betrays you.

So what's the point? Well, last article I talked about my friend, 10 years younger, but who looked, acted, felt, and “was” physically older.  The message should be clear: get into the highly profitable side of service work, but there doesn't have to be a rush; and there's a way you can do it easily, safely, cheaply, and clearly — all hallmarks of my previous messages.

Here's how: Develop relationships with the homeowners of every construction or remodel job you do.  There are tons of ways to do this, but the best is your guarantee that your work is completely independent of whatever the general contractor's is. Make it in writing. Make it a point to personally hand it to the homeowners — especially the woman.  (More about marketing to women later, just trust that women are 80% of your future client base, and they want "relationships.")

Now what?

Simple. Stay in contact with the owner! Get e-mail addresses and permission to send updates and tips about maintaining the work you've done. Tell 'em you can recommend other tradespeople they can trust.  Then develop a small, but effective company newsletter and send it out monthly.

To continue the discussion about building customer relationships, join us on our new Plumbing Talk forum.

If you've maximized your dollar as I've advised by joining the Service Roundtable's forums for all of $25.00 a month, you will have access to a wonderful e-mail newsletter that takes no skill at all and very little time to produce.  You can even offer service agreements, but that can be tricky and takes coaching; however, it works and is almost like free money.

Now you're developing a base built from construction clients as you gradually morph to service work, and they will ask for that work if, but only if, you stay in touch with them.  It really is that easy to migrate from non-profitable to profitable because you can charge two to three times more for service than construction work without the client even knowing the difference.  Read my past articles to see how simple this all can be.  (I'll even send 'em to you for a small fee or research this mag for free.) 

So, there you be construction folks — a simple, sure-fire way to slowly migrate your way into the highly profitable world of service with no headaches, no advertising cost, very little extra homework, and a way to NOT break down your body the way my stubborn friend did. That last part may not be clear, so I'll elaborate. Service work is so profitable you can hire others to do the heavy-duty stuff ... the earlier the better.

Want more in-depth answers?  I coach very inexpensively, with no contracts, a money-back guarantee, and no long-term commitments unless you decide I'm worth it.

Hey, most important of all — enjoy your work, stay passionate about helping your clients, and love your families.  Now THAT'S simple.

Retired master plumber Ed O’Connell is a pro-active consultant to the subcontracting industry from Fairfax, Calif. He can be reached at 415/453-2291, or via email at [email protected]


About the Author

Ed O'Connell | Business Coach

Ed O'Connell is the founder emeritus of O'Connell Plumbing Inc. He is the subcontracting business coach for smaller contractors and a Service Round Table Coach. He can be reached in Auburn, California, at home/office: 530/878-5273 or at [email protected].

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