Ideas to Get Your Phone to Ring

Ed Cerier, Contributing Writer
Nexstar Network

I’ve spoken with a number of Nexstar® Network members who’ve asked for ideas to get the phone to ring. Together, we’ve come up with thoughts that we have gotten quite excited about, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

A key reason to call a plumber is that a small problem today can become a large, expensive headache tomorrow. You know this, of course, but many consumers don’t. Tell them! For example: A drip under a vanity can be a minor nuisance today, but if left unattended can quickly lead to mold problems. Over the long run, even a small drip can result in rotten wood and a vanity that needs to be replaced.

A small brown spot on a ceiling between floors can be something people pretend they don’t see, but it may be an indication that a pipe is leaking. This can lead to huge problems if the pipe bursts, but even if it remains a drip, it could permanently damage the ceiling. Even worse, a ceiling can collapse without warning.

A stiff, hard-to-turn-on faucet could be irritating today, but eventually this faucet is probably going to break, particularly if the users get frustrated and are too aggressive when they turn it on and off.

Another idea for plumbers is to promote remodeling work. A new sink and faucet, for example, can help make a main-floor bathroom look and feel brand new.

One Nexstar member recently told me that his business is booming, in large part because he’s giving people a number of remodeling ideas.

More and more people are buying the latest, largest products, like big-screen TV’s. But most consumers aren’t protecting these kinds of products from destructive power surges. Tell them about the benefits of whole-house surge protection and the damage that can occur if they don’t safeguard their valuable electronic equipment.

Many couples are on slightly different schedules in the morning. One person gets up first and is ready to shave or apply makeup, while the second person is up but barely awake. The perfect solution: a dimmer in the bathroom. I would imagine many people would hesitate to pay a trip fee for one dimmer, so you could include a secondary pitch to add dimmers in other rooms as well. One member told me that her high-end customers are asking for dimmers in their walk-in closets. There are endless ideas for promoting dimmers. They can help create the ideal mood in family rooms, eating areas, entertaining rooms, and so on.
A big challenge for electricians is that the call cycle for the average customer is quite long. This means it’s particularly important for an electrician to keep his name and number right where people will find it when they’re ready to call. Magnets are an obvious choice, but as many of you know, people already feel they have too many magnets. The trick, then, is to give people a different kind of magnet. For example, send people a small magnetized flashlight featuring your name and number. This takes a plain magnet and turns it into something that’s useful, that stands out, and that’s consistent with your business.

Don’t assume your customers know what you know, and don’t assume they know what they’re supposed to do. For example, don’t assume people know anything about air conditioner maintenance. I bought a new air conditioner a few years ago, and neither the sales person nor the installation person said a thing about maintenance. I didn’t realize I needed an annual service check until I joined Nexstar! As summer approaches, you should be promoting the benefits of an annual check on air conditioners. One member told me that the majority of air conditioners he replaces could have lasted up to 10 years longer if they’d been serviced. Tell this story to your customers.

The same goes with service checks on furnaces when winter approaches. Don’t assume your customers know the benefits of regular maintenance. Tell them how much money you can save them by making sure their furnaces run at peak efficiency. Also mention that regular service checks save money because they extend the lives of furnaces. For those customers that do know the importance of service, don’t assume they’ll remember to call for an appointment. One member told me that his customers are grateful when he calls to remind them that it’s time to schedule an annual service check. He’s doing them a favor because they’ve either forgotten to call, or they’ve been putting it off.

Don’t assume that people know the features and benefits of the latest high-efficiency furnaces. A great many people haven’t shopped for, or even thought about furnaces for many, many years. Most of these people will find the latest furnace technology new and even exciting.

One way to possibly get a lot of people to sign up for service checks is to offer a neighborhood discount. You could create a customized piece for the larger neighborhoods in your area that says something like “Hello Rolling Acres! I’m going to be in your neighborhood the week of March 13th doing annual service checks on many of your neighbors’ air conditioners. If you want to save money by making sure your system runs at peak efficiency, call today. If a total of 20 homes in Rolling Acres sign up, everyone will get a 20{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f} discount. If 30 homes sign up, the discount will be 30{938cd9e8dae860e800efc538277d4f7684e6f6981618ba70d1c34357a53c2e1f}! This offer is only good the week of March 13th, so don’t delay, call today.” One of the reasons recipients will like this idea is because it suggests that there are people in their neighborhoods that are already using your services.

Here’s an idea that everyone can use. Tell your customers that they should buy today to beat the rush. If your customers are anything like me, they’ve found that if they don’t call for some services in advance, they might have to wait a while to get an appointment.

Finally, here are a few important things to think about when you begin creating a marketing piece designed to get an immediate response.

The most important thing you need to know is that consumers will want the answers to three questions:
Why should I call?
Why should I call you?
Why should I call you today?

You don’t always need to answer these questions with separate thoughts. For example, you can often answer the first and third questions—Why should I call, and why should I call today?—with one answer. This would be the case with the first set of plumbing ideas. Consumers should call today because if they don’t, their problems will be worse tomorrow.

As for the middle question—Why should I call you?—the answer is usually the same. Consumers should call you because you’re experts in the areas that you’re telling them to call about.

One caution, though: don’t boldly and directly say “we’re the experts in…”, because too many marketers have said this and not delivered on the promise, which has conditioned consumers to not believe claims like this. A better way to approach this is by giving consumers just enough information so that they come to the right conclusion.

A subtle but effective way to communicate your expertise is by using a confident tone.

You could also consider using a customer testimonial or two.

A third technique, which is being employed by one Nexstar member, is to state that you’ve developed an innovative process (although please don’t make this, or any claim, if it’s not true!).

Finally, you could subtly communicate that you have a great deal of experience. For example, you could say “Many people call me to ask…”

If you’re ahead of the game, and already have a program designed to get the phone to ring, I’d very much like to hear from you.

Good Marketing!

Ed Cerier is the Marketing Strategist for Nexstar Network®, a world class business development and best practices organization that provides business training, systems and support to independent home service providers in the plumbing, electrical and HVAC trades. Nexstar members get rapid results, guided by experienced coaches, surefire systems and incredible peer connections. For more information, visit

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