Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let the Do It Yourselfer Do It

I was checking out the MSN home page this morning, I noticed a disturbing link. It was a link for “How to fix your own toilet”. Immediately I was upset because this is taking work away from contractors. The name of the article was ”Troubleshoot your toilet without a plumber”. One of the web gurus was showing customers how to change a flapper, with links to other articles on how to fix plumbing, electrical, and even some furnace and air conditioning problems. Contractors were losing opportunities to solve customer problems and make a few dollars in the process. Instead, it became another trip to Home Depot or Lowes so the customer can purchase the parts. Then it hit me!
If a contractor had key words on his website like “Do it yourself plumbing” or fix your toilet or repair faucet that it could attract the customer to his site. The same idea could be applied to an HVAC company or an electrical contractor. Of course, he would have to have the content in the website for Google and other search engines to give him higher ranking but a few pages of content developed by the contractor could easily be written and posted to the site. With may fixtures, faucets, electrical items, furnaces and air conditioning becoming more complex with more and more unique parts, the customer may find it necessary to contact that contractor to ask questions or even schedule a service call. At this point, the perceived value of the repair is greater because the customer has a greater understand of the repair and may have tried and failed at the repair attempt.
Let’s face it, on a small repair it is very difficult to charge the customer the “right” price and show the value provided. Most of the complaints I remember receiving were related to minimum calls or low billing calls and the value a technician was able to provide. I’m not saying we should give up on these calls, but a toilet with a reasonable quality working ballcock, shutoff valve, good seat, and without cracks does not leave much else for the technician to sell on the call unless he does the whole system inspection. Even then, there may be little to offer the customer as additional services so the call can become a low billing and a low profit to the contractor. Perhaps our marketing and focus should be on calls that provide a higher ticket and are often easier to provide the perceived value.
By having the go to website and the email or telephone answers for the customer on minor repairs, your firm could become the go to firm for all repairs. In the crowded marketing arena today, a contractor must somehow find a way to be the customer’s go to firm. Another way of thinking.