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The Way You Make Me Feel

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Ever wonder why people buy what they do at the price they pay? Have you noticed consumers get many bids and then compare what they get, “apples to apples”? Consumers today don’t buy the same way they did before.

In the past, consumers called the company they had done business with, or the company their neighbor recommended. Maybe they’d get another estimate, but they usually bought from the company they trusted. This allowed contractors to build our client base, and cultivate those existing clients for additional referrals.

Then the economy began its downward spiral, a climate change began happening, and consumers started buying with different priorities.

For some time now consumers have had a world of information at their fingertips. They don’t feel the need to learn from contractors about how an HVAC system works. Instead, they can go on websites that sell equipment or parts, so they can negotiate our prices or use the information as a tool to dispute a bill.

But what they don’t learn from those sites is that our industry requires an incredible amount of knowledge and training. They don’t fully understand that they pay us for what we know, not just what we do.

Customers can read articles about choosing the right contractor, but let’s be really honest — all of us look exactly the same to them. They don’t really understand the difference between a high quality contractor and the “others.” Our certifications and specialties and why they matter? Forget about it.

So what’s a contractor to do in this turbulent consumer market? I think an experience I had outside of our industry will help me explain.

I started working part time at my friend’s specialty boutique in our town. It was there that I learned how people buy. Some buy on price, some buy on quality, some on specific need, and some just because they can.

However, I also learned that no matter what their reason for buying, they all responded the same to one thing: how well I treated them and how closely I listened to them. They valued the customer service I provided. That customer service is what brought them back to shop again and again.

I made shopping there a personal experience for each customer. I told stories about our process in picking products. And even on the rare occasions I couldn’t help them with what they were looking for, I’d contact the competition to see if they could help. I was consumer focused; everything was all about the customer. Not the store. Not me.

The more I worked at the boutique, the more I saw how what we do at DiFilippo’s Service isn’t that different. I learned that people want honesty, kindness, and quality products, at a fair price.

At DiFilippo’s Service, we refocused our business on the consumer: what they want; what they need; what they want to pay; and how we can help them. When we did that, we learned that we had gotten away from some of the services we had that customers really valued and wanted.

We also learned how to say “no thank you” when we identified that we were not a good match for the customer. Sure, it was hard turning down work, but in the end we couldn’t help them, so it was better for all of us.

So what’s a contractor to do in this turbulent consumer market? That answer should be pretty clear now: provide them with something that is hard to find today: outstanding customer service. Outstanding customer service is one way we all can stand out in the retail market.

To paraphrase an old saying: Consumers may not remember what you sold them, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Posted In: ACCA Now, Opinion

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