The Commodity Conundrum, Part 2 (October 2017 Foreword)

A businessman sits on a floating question mark as he brainstorms about a possible solution.

In “The Commodity Conundrum, Part 1” from the September 2017 issue, we discussed how some might view cleaning and restoration as a type of “commodity” — much like products you can purchase at a grocery store.

This happens because your potential and, perhaps even some of your regular customers, think that all cleaning and restoration companies are the same… they have the same marketing messages, do the same type of work, have the same guarantees, etc. Like a commodity.

They may not understand how unique your company is — how much you put into providing quality work with a personal touch. Commodities can’t do that.

Landing a quality customer takes patience and persistence. And when you get one, a good one, it’s like you won a contest. It feels good.

Now what? You want to avoid the commodity conundrum. You don’t want to do just one job for this new customer only to lose her to another company she stumbles across the next time she needs more work done at her home. You want repeat work. You want referrals. You want a long-term relationship.

You can do all of this with a simple, four-step plan.

Step 1: Understand your customer

It may seem easy, but it’s often neglected. For residential services, you are usually dealing with the woman of the home. How you treat her is different from how you may treat a man such as at a commercial job. Remember you are entering her private haven, the place she cares most about. Her home is something she created for her family. When you get to the job, take your time, ask questions, and don’t talk too much… just listen to what she needs. This is a challenge for some technicians. You must train them to do this.

Step 2: Your guarantee

Guarantees today aren’t worth that much. Every company has a guarantee, and they all seem the same. Think of one that is different. Look at other industries and what they guarantee if you need ideas.

Step 3: The work

Remember that people, in general, expect to be disappointed. They wait for it. When you do the work, schedule plenty of time, and do more than they expect. As one example, when you move that sofa from the wall, wipe off the dust from the baseboard. It takes five seconds. And let her know you did it.

Step 4: The follow-up

When the work is done, allow time for a final inspection. And let your customer know you will follow up with a telephone call or email in a day or two to make sure all is well, just in case she notices something that needs more attention. This way, she feels free to “complain” if a spot comes back or you missed something. The worst thing you can do is allow her to be unhappy and talk about it with her friends.

That’s it. Implement these four steps into your company’s customer service plan, and you will see how easy it is to avoid the commodity conundrum.

After all, you don’t look like a gallon of milk or a can of corn to me.

Jeff Cross is executive editor of Cleanfax. He can be reached at [email protected].

For the “Commodity Conundrum, Part 1, CLICK HERE.

Jeff Cross

Jeff Cross is the ISSA media director, with publications that include Cleaning & Maintenance Management, ISSA Today, and Cleanfax magazines. He is the previous owner of a successful cleaning and restoration firm. He also works as a trainer and consultant for business owners, managers, and front-line technicians. He can be reached at [email protected].

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