The Blue Collar Success Group
Every contractor understands the importance of having a strong brand. Companies that develop exceptional brands outperform companies with a mediocre brand every single day, regardless of their field. Customers who are brand sensitive become loyal to their companies. Some of you reading this won’t drink Pepsi, it has to be Coke. Others won’t set foot in a McDonald’s, but eat at Burger King every single week, regardless of location.
Why is it that we seem to gravitate toward certain things and move away from others as consumers? Obviously we like certain things from certain brands and we begin to learn that we can count on them. As customers in any field, we crave predictable results. We like consistency. We like to know the outcome of a buying decision in advance. It’s safe and we don’t have to overthink the buying decision.
Branding is incredibly powerful, and most contractors don’t pay enough attention to the root of what makes a great brand. As marketers of our service companies, we’re taught that we need a great name, an eye-catching logo, the perfect color scheme, and a unique selling proposition that will indefinitely stick in a customer’s mind. These things are all great for sure, but they don’t independently make a brand work and they won’t create success for you by themselves.
The reality is this: your brand is defined by your people! As I travel around the country helping contractors create more sales and success through strategic technician training, I work really hard to help technicians realize the vital importance of their daily actions and how the manner in which they represent themselves is directly related to a customer’s perception of the company.
Awhile ago, I was doing a keynote speech in Atlantic City, New Jersey. There was a terrible storm on our travel day, so we arrived at the casino/hotel much later than we had originally planned. The lovely Christy and I were tired, hungry, and ready to relax with a nice dinner before turning in for the night. There was a McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood restaurant on the property so we quickly checked-in, dropped our bags and got to the restaurant before closing time.
I’m a big fan of this chain of seafood restaurants and I’ve always received nothing but great food, drinks, and service each time I’ve chosen to dine at one of their many locations. However, this particular night was to be different. Due to our numerous travel delays, we arrived at the bustling restaurant about 30 minutes prior to closing. We were seated and our server arrived at our table moments later. Without her even saying a word, it was clear that she was not in a very good mood. At one point she swooped in and asked, “Are you ready to order?” in a monotone and disengaged voice. Christy responded as we were both looking at our menus, “Actually, I’m having a bit of trouble deciding between a few things.” Before we knew what was happening, she quickly quipped, “Okay” as she briskly walked away, clearly irritated with our indecisiveness.
Since I train customer service on a daily basis, I addressed it with her upon returning to the table. I asked, “What seems to be going on? Have you had a bad night?” She launched into this story about how earlier in the night the restaurant had been evacuated for some unknown reason and a couple of tables had not even returned to pay their checks, which obviously negatively impacted her tips for the night.
I can understand and empathize with her frustration based on the evening’s events, but the negative things that happened to her were not our fault, and we didn’t deserve to be penalized because of them. I was a customer in a restaurant that was open for business, and I want a great service experience, regardless of what had taken place that evening.
The same is true for us as contractors. Your front line team members are your brand. Your technicians have far more control over your brand than you will ever have. They represent the company to the homeowner. The customer makes a buying decision today based on the service, education, and the overall experience they receive from a technician, not the leadership. I’m sure the executives at McCormick and Schmick’s have a very good training program for their team members, but that night I did not receive the type of service that training is designed to provide.
These same situations happen in our industry every single day. If a technician isn’t properly trained, they cannot effectively represent your brand. If you don’t consistently work with your team to keep them sharp and customer-focused, your company will suffer. Technicians are amazing people. They are the backbone of our industry and they have a vast array of skills to learn. Effective communication is absolutely essential in the world of service and sales. The better people communicate, the better results they experience.
What are you doing to keep your technicians highly trained in effective communication? How often do you have company meetings and focus on communication? How do you come up with the training topics? Who leads the meetings? These are all questions for you to address in order to become more successful. There are plenty of resources available to help you accomplish your goals, but you must get focused and execute.
I will probably dine McCormick and Schmick’s again at some point, but it will likely still be awhile before we give them another chance based on our experience. Is that fair to them as a company? Maybe not, but we work too hard for our money to waste it on bad service. The same is true with your customers, so make sure you’re doing your very best when it comes to helping your team understand the importance of great customer service and caring. The best way to influence your brand in a positive way is to train, train, train.