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      The Grime Scene Terms Of Service and Forum Rules   08/23/2007

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Beth n Rod

Customer Hot Buttons

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Sometimes the hardest part of what we do is not in the work itself. Very often it’s related to the hot buttons that each customer seems to have. These hot buttons vary from customer to customer. Some are easily addressed while others are not. What follows are a few of the hot buttons to look for, and some tips on how to address and avoid them. Please note that if you have bad habits in any of these areas and are not willing to work on them, then merely giving the response and not being true to your word is likely to absolutely infuriate the client, and cost you future business. Simply put, don’t go there. Do it right.

Hot Button: I could never get the last guy I hired to return my calls. I had no idea when or if he was going to show up to do the work.

Response: You’ll receive a call from our office to let you know when we’ll be out to perform the work, and any calls to our office will be returned.

Hot Button: The last guy I hired got over-spray all over the back of my house and never did come back to clean it off.

Response: We’ll protect your home and surrounding vegetation with plastics and drop cloths to protect your property from over-spray. We’ll double check before we leave to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Note: If you say you will do this, then do it. Don’t say you will put up plastic and use drop clothes and then not do it. Do you think the customer is not home? Maybe the car is in the garage and they are peeking out of the window. It’s also possible that their neighbor is keeping an eye out for them.

Hot Button: I’m not happy with the way my job turned out. The color doesn’t look like I thought it would. It’s too dark. I want you to redo it at no charge to me. I know a lot of people!

Response: Ok, this one is tricky. If you guarantee 100% satisfaction, consider redoing the job. However, the client did choose the color so giving in completely may not be necessary. Try to negotiate gently. Only you know where to draw the line.

Hot Button: I think my house should have come cleaner. I want you to rewash it at no charge.

Response: We’ll be glad to come back out and take a look at the house to see what needs to be addressed. If we agree, we’ll be glad to rewash it at no additional cost.

Hot Button: I can’t pay you the day the job is done because I don’t get paid until Friday.

Response: I’ll be glad to move your date to Friday for you.

Hot Button: You killed my wife’s azalea plant. How could you be so careless?!

Response: We’ll be glad to replace it for her. What color were the blooms?

Hot Button: My neighbors called me to complain about the noise of your pressure washer!

Response: We’re terribly sorry about that. If you could give us your neighbor’s house number and name we’ll be glad to send a letter of apology.

Hot Button: You people never returned my call!

Response: This one is tricky. If you left it on an answering machine, try asking who picks up the messages off of the machine. If you left it with a person tell the caller the name of the person you spoke to. They’ll still be upset, but hopefully not at you. Ask if there is another phone number where you can reach them directly.

Hot Button: There is over spray on my house and you didn’t clean it off!

Response: If you did do it, go out hat in hand and apologize and clean it up. But, very often it’s not ours, is it? It’s existing over spray from a prior job. In that case, note on your proposal to the client that there is existing over spray and that you cannot guarantee removal. That way if they do call, you can refer them back to the proposal that they signed, noting the prior conditions. But be gentle when you remind them, always leave them with their dignity and never, ever, make them feel stupid.

Hot Button: The last company I hired didn’t explain anything to me. I don’t know what they did to my deck, and I have no idea what sealant is on there.

Response: Explain your methods, and all the precautions you take on their property. Give them any company literature you have, and any product brochures or color charts. Tell them about the products you suggest. Customers love to gather information and to be kept informed. Begin to do this when you prepare the estimate.

Hot Button: Someone was supposed to come out from your company to wash my house today, and they haven’t showed up yet. You said they would be here this afternoon. When will they be here? (let’s say it’s 3:30 pm)

Response: Let the customer know how far out you are. For example, if they call the office, have the dispatcher call the crew in the field. Find out approximately what time they will be arriving. Call the client back immediately with that information. The cherry on the Sunday would be to call about 30 minutes after the crew is due to arrive (mind you, you already know the crew is there because you spoke to them on the radio) and follow up to make sure they did arrive. Ask if there is anything else you can help with. In a case like this you might want to call after the job is done to see how they liked the work too. Three letters here, TLC!

Being courteous, polite, prompt and professional goes a long way in keeping customers happy. By treating customers this way hopefully you’ll avoid being labeled as just another contractor. These are just a few of the hot buttons you may encounter. You’ve probably thought of others while reading this. Take a few minutes and consider how to address the hot buttons you encounter most often. Before you know it, you’ll be able to handle even the most difficult customer with ease.

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Great article Beth, never saw it till tonight

Sometimes the hardest part of what we do is not in the work itself. Very often it’s related to the hot buttons that each customer seems to have. These hot buttons vary from customer to customer. Some are easily addressed while others are not. What follows are a few of the hot buttons to look for, and some tips on how to address and avoid them. Please note that if you have bad habits in any of these areas and are not willing to work on them, then merely giving the response and not being true to your word is likely to absolutely infuriate the client, and cost you future business. Simply put, don’t go there. Do it right.

Hot Button: I could never get the last guy I hired to return my calls. I had no idea when or if he was going to show up to do the work.

Response: You’ll receive a call from our office to let you know when we’ll be out to perform the work, and any calls to our office will be returned.

Hot Button: The last guy I hired got over-spray all over the back of my house and never did come back to clean it off.

Response: We’ll protect your home and surrounding vegetation with plastics and drop cloths to protect your property from over-spray. We’ll double check before we leave to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Note: If you say you will do this, then do it. Don’t say you will put up plastic and use drop clothes and then not do it. Do you think the customer is not home? Maybe the car is in the garage and they are peeking out of the window. It’s also possible that their neighbor is keeping an eye out for them.

Hot Button: I’m not happy with the way my job turned out. The color doesn’t look like I thought it would. It’s too dark. I want you to redo it at no charge to me. I know a lot of people!

Response: Ok, this one is tricky. If you guarantee 100% satisfaction, consider redoing the job. However, the client did choose the color so giving in completely may not be necessary. Try to negotiate gently. Only you know where to draw the line.

Hot Button: I think my house should have come cleaner. I want you to rewash it at no charge.

Response: We’ll be glad to come back out and take a look at the house to see what needs to be addressed. If we agree, we’ll be glad to rewash it at no additional cost.

Hot Button: I can’t pay you the day the job is done because I don’t get paid until Friday.

Response: I’ll be glad to move your date to Friday for you.

Hot Button: You killed my wife’s azalea plant. How could you be so careless?!

Response: We’ll be glad to replace it for her. What color were the blooms?

Hot Button: My neighbors called me to complain about the noise of your pressure washer!

Response: We’re terribly sorry about that. If you could give us your neighbor’s house number and name we’ll be glad to send a letter of apology.

Hot Button: You people never returned my call!

Response: This one is tricky. If you left it on an answering machine, try asking who picks up the messages off of the machine. If you left it with a person tell the caller the name of the person you spoke to. They’ll still be upset, but hopefully not at you. Ask if there is another phone number where you can reach them directly.

Hot Button: There is over spray on my house and you didn’t clean it off!

Response: If you did do it, go out hat in hand and apologize and clean it up. But, very often it’s not ours, is it? It’s existing over spray from a prior job. In that case, note on your proposal to the client that there is existing over spray and that you cannot guarantee removal. That way if they do call, you can refer them back to the proposal that they signed, noting the prior conditions. But be gentle when you remind them, always leave them with their dignity and never, ever, make them feel stupid.

Hot Button: The last company I hired didn’t explain anything to me. I don’t know what they did to my deck, and I have no idea what sealant is on there.

Response: Explain your methods, and all the precautions you take on their property. Give them any company literature you have, and any product brochures or color charts. Tell them about the products you suggest. Customers love to gather information and to be kept informed. Begin to do this when you prepare the estimate.

Hot Button: Someone was supposed to come out from your company to wash my house today, and they haven’t showed up yet. You said they would be here this afternoon. When will they be here? (let’s say it’s 3:30 pm)

Response: Let the customer know how far out you are. For example, if they call the office, have the dispatcher call the crew in the field. Find out approximately what time they will be arriving. Call the client back immediately with that information. The cherry on the Sunday would be to call about 30 minutes after the crew is due to arrive (mind you, you already know the crew is there because you spoke to them on the radio) and follow up to make sure they did arrive. Ask if there is anything else you can help with. In a case like this you might want to call after the job is done to see how they liked the work too. Three letters here, TLC!

Being courteous, polite, prompt and professional goes a long way in keeping customers happy. By treating customers this way hopefully you’ll avoid being labeled as just another contractor. These are just a few of the hot buttons you may encounter. You’ve probably thought of others while reading this. Take a few minutes and consider how to address the hot buttons you encounter most often. Before you know it, you’ll be able to handle even the most difficult customer with ease.

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Ron's right, it is a great article. I never saw it until this morning.

One thing that helps me it pictures, I take pictures of everything. Plants, overspray, damaged siding, you get the idea. You don't have to have them developed, just keep them on file until the job is paid for and signed off. I also write it in the "comments" area of my bid sheet and the customer gets a carbon copy of that. When bidding a job I always make sure the owner is there so that there are no misunderstandings. Keeping a lasar pointer with you is handy for pointing out "those spots" up high.

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