Winning at the Kitchen Table

Written by Michelle LaFrance

You’ve been invited to a seat at the kitchen table; however, dinner is not served. And to make matters even worse, your competition has been invited as well!

Selling at the kitchen table isn’t easy. Consider the fact that homeowners shopping for plumbing, a new HVAC system, or a remodeling project seem to have it built into their DNA to get three competitive quotes (some are even more enthusiastic and get four or five quotes). You can start to see that your time at the kitchen table is like an audition. Who will land the leading role?

It’s showtime! How you handle your time at the kitchen table is key. And just like a performer needs to read the audience, your ability to close the sale has everything to do with your ability to accurately read the prospect and understand the set of values that will be driving their buying decision.

There are two very important things to understand:

  1. What causes your prospect to say YES to you and your offer?
  2. What drives your prospect to say NO to you and your offer?

It’s the greatest discovery in the history of business. People buy based on a certain personality profile is key to winning at the kitchen table.

 

TIP #1: LET YOUR PROSPECT DETERMINE YOUR PRESENTATION

Pre-determined sales presentations only work with some people some of the time.

Some sales teams use an iPad that some people like, and some won’t.

Some sales teams use a pitch book, a series of set questions designed to gather data that can use in ‘the close .’ However, the answers to these questions may not have anything to do with your prospect’s actual buying behavior.

Any canned sales process that does not consider your prospect’s values will miss out on the very reason that people make buying decisions. On the contrary, when you address values, you’ll not only get the sale, you get a higher level of satisfaction, positive reviews, and referrals.

 

TIP #2: LEARN TO SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE 

People’s criteria to make a buying decision are so different that you can think of it as speaking another language.

Consider this: Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, identified four distinct personality types, each so different from the next that he learned to treat them differently medically based on their personality profile. He categorized people into categories that he called the Four Temperaments.

What does this tell you? It points to the fact that any canned presentation that doesn’t consider the four personality types will only work sometimes. It makes sense that to increase your effectiveness, you need to adjust your presentation to match your prospect’s personality type.

The good news is that the solution is easier than you may think. It all comes down to understanding your prospect’s values and knowing how to deliver the right message to the right person.

 

TIP #3: THE ANSWER IS IN THEIR HIDDEN SET OF VALUES

Learning about what motivates each personality type is easier than you think. The best advice is to stop thinking like you. Get out of your head what you think is needed to close the sales and place all your attention on your prospect because they tell you who they are and what they need from you.  

Values are important because they drive behavior and drive buying decisions. 

You can gather a great deal of data from a person’s behavior. You’ve noticed that people behave differently, right?  

  • Have you ever had someone take the wheel from your sales presentation and start driving the process? This is a personality type.
  • Have you had the feeling of your prospect quietly examining you…like you’re being vetted? This is a personality type.
  • How about the person that welcomes you into their home, offers you something to eat, and wants to get to know you before you start addressing their issue? This is a personality type.
  • What about the person that wants the case studies, consumer reports, stats, datasheets, and everything else? Yes, this is a personality type too.

 

~Each of the above behaviors is just one way to identify the personality type you’re dealing with. Many behaviors will indicate who you are dealing with. 

 ~ Each personality type has a hidden set of values that need to be addressed for them to say YES to you.  

 ~Each of these personality types has a hidden fear when deciding who to do business with. Alleviate the fear and increase your odds of getting a YES.

 ~Each personality type has an internal ‘tripwire’ (something that turns them off) and will cause them to say NO to you and your offer.

 

 The more you learn about personality types, and what they value, the better you can successfully move through your sale process. You’ll be able to discern when to break out that iPad and when to leave it alone. You’ll know what to say in response to the set of questions in a way that will make sense to them.

Now…about the invitation to the kitchen table. When you learn to speak your prospect’s language, you can gain confidence in your ability to deliver the right message so that your company will be invited back to do that HVAC install, plumbing, or home remodeling project.

Bon appetite!

 

Michelle LaFrance is a Certified and Licensed BANKCODE Trainer.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Customer Service Best Practices: Importance of Live Phone Support

Written by Savannah McDermott

 

When it comes to the daily routines, the regularly scheduled appointments, and other things of the sort, modern consumers want digital, self-service experiences. They want to book online.

But there’s also a reason 911 is a phone number and not a form filled on a website. It’s human instinct to pick up the phone when something’s complicated, or worse yet, an emergency. In high-tension situations, you make a call to receive authentic, person-to-person interaction, understanding, and quick resolution of your issue.

Having live phone support in the home services industry is as important as having online booking and live chat services. Don’t believe me? Let’s dig in a little deeper.

Why Is Live Phone Support So Important in Home Services?

Let’s play a quick game of “What Would You Do?”:

It’s 2:00 in the morning. You wake up to use the bathroom, and blurry-eyed, you stumble down the hallway to get there, only to find that a pipe has burst and you’re ankle-deep in sewer water. What do you do?

Do you, A: Pull out your computer, search for a plumbing company, and book an appointment online for the next morning?

Or, B: Pick up the phone.

Situations like this one—which are uniquely common in our industry—make it incredibly important to offer around-the-clock live phone support. Having a real person with real empathy, understanding, and the ability to ask the right questions to help solve an urgent issue can help:

  • Improve the customer experience
  • Increase booking conversions
  • Retain valuable customers

 

Here’s how.

How Live Phone Support Improves the Customer Experience

Beyond emergencies, there are other less-talked-about aspects of why offering live phone support is valuable.

  • Live phone support allows customers to book over the phone at any time, including after-hours.

In a scenario like the one described above, a customer wants to speak to someone “in-person”—not hit an answering machine and leave a message. If you offer 24/7 live phone support with a home services expert, a customer can count on your company to be there, any hour of the day, ready to empathize with and help solve their problem. Not just any live answering service can do that.

  • Live phone support empowers quick issue resolution.

When a customer calls your company, they want a solution to their issue as quickly as possible. If a company has a long wait time or no phone support at all, that customer will hang up and move on. Same goes if a company does answer the phone but doesn’t schedule an appointment or get them the emergency help they need. By offering live phone support with an expert that’s ready to serve, you can be there for your customer in their time of need and help relieve their stress by booking an appointment immediately.

  • Live phone support shows customers you care and enables their trust.

Interactions in the home services industry can be intimate and vulnerable. Homeowners must open their homes to strangers to handle emergencies, which can be both stressful and expensive. As a result, customers seek genuine empathy, sensitivity, and trust from their provider. By offering live phone support with people trained in the trades and understand home service issues, you can show your customers authentic care and help ensure confidence, encouraging them to choose your company when emergency strikes again.

As you can see, live phone support helps ensure a positive customer experience in stressful circumstances. With this improved customer experience, conversion rates improve as well—and it shows in the numbers.

How Live Phone Support Improves Conversion

While many homeowners start their home services consumer journey online (via search engines), several still convert by calling. According to a study by Invoca, the percentage of consumers (by trade category) who call after searching is:

  • Appliance repair: 92%
  • Electrical: 82%
  • HVAC repair: 84%
  • Plumbing: 93%
  • Roofing: 84%

Many of those call-in interactions result in a close/purchase. According to the same study, 40% of consumers who call from search convert, making phone services one of the most valuable conversion tools for a company. On average, the amount of money spent after search per home services category is:

  • Appliance repair: $162
  • Electrical: $597
  • HVAC repair: $908
  • Plumbing: $614
  • Roofing: $4,589

As you can see, when there’s an emergency or large project at stake, the consumers will call. And when they call, they will need service (and that service might bring in some revenue).

By catering to how your customers want to communicate, you’ll set yourself up to be their go-to home service provider every time.

 

Savannah McDermott is the Head of Customer Success at Schedule Engine.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Words to Provoke, Inspire, and Entertain

Written by Lynn Wise

The New Year is right around the corner. Looking back, we have had almost two years of uncertainty and chaos. Yet most service trades have and are prospering well. With this said, I decided to keep this light for a year-end article. 

Rather than write a few paragraphs on a business topic, I wanted to leave 2021 with some sayings from a favorite motivational speaker of mine. ©Larry Winget authored a great deskside book called The Gospel of Larry.  I highly recommend you pick up a copy and keep it on your desk, in your truck, by your bedside, or wherever you have a few minutes to reflect.  

The quotes from ©Larry Winget are long, but I have selected a few for you to read and reflect on 2021 or think about 2022 in different terms. 

 Here we go!

 

©Larry Winget

I don’t have any interest in taking care of people. My interest is in teaching people how to take care of themselves.   

 

On Life

Simple ideas for a better world: Smile more. Don’t litter. Buy things from little kids. Use your turn signals. Don’t talk in theaters. Say please and thank you.

Putting up with something is the same as endorsing it. Do you endorse rudeness, laziness, lousy service, insolence, stupidity? If not, stop putting up with it.

Life is about two things: The things you CAN control and the things you CAN’T control. Which are you spending your time on?

Don’t worry too much about making the right decision. Just make the decision, then make the decision right.

 

On Success

Wishful thinking is not a strategy for success.

Success comes from what you do, not from what you say you are going to do.

Before you can say yes to what you want, you have to say no to what you have.

The best way to get ahead is to move your behind.

Why be successful? It is very simple: because you can.

 

On Work

Focus on accomplishment, not activity. What you do isn’t as important as what you get done.

If it feels easy, maybe it’s because you aren’t doing it right. Some things are supposed to be hard.

Finding a job you love isn’t always possible, but falling in love with the job you have usually is.

Don’t tell me how busy you are. Show me what you’ve gotten done. Words don’t matter. Results do.

 

On Business

A simple business fact: Your value must exceed what your cost, or you will be replaced by someone who costs less and has more value.

Leadership is not about supporting your people; it’s about holding your people to a higher standard.

The biggest mistake you will ever make is thinking you can’t be replaced.

Good results cover up a multitude of sins.

 

On Money

Poor is a condition. Broke is a situation. Fix your situation before it becomes a condition.

If you were born poor, it’s not your fault. If you die poor, it is.

People don’t have money problems; they have priority problems. Get your priorities right, and your money will get right.

Get clear about what you own and what owns you.

These quotes are a few of my favorites from ©Larry Winget. The quick read has other categories such as Relationships, Parenting, and Stupidity. Grab a copy of The Gospel of Larry, you will reference it often.

 

I will leave you with two of my own:

  • Focus on the Rule, not the Exception to the Rule.
  • Say what you mean, mean what you say!

Happy Holidays and New Year! 

See you in 2022.

 

Lynn Wise is the Founder and CEO of Contractor in Charge.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

It’s a Wonderful Life, but a Terrible Business

Written by Todd Liles 

 

George Bailey is perhaps the worst businessman in movies.

Just look at the honeymoon scene. George used his honeymoon savings to keep the people from taking their shares and selling them to Mr. Potter. It was a lovely scene in the movie, but he didn’t even get a signed receipt for the money. In fact, he told the lady not to sign anything. That’s charming, but there is no way he will remember the amount given and to whom.

(Building and Loan Scene: Chaos)

 

His wife was also complicit in this act. She was the one that brought the money out and handed it to George.

(Building and Loan Scene: Wife handing over money)

 

Instead of firing his incompetent uncle, he puts him in charge of an $8,000 deposit. In a moment of absolute buffoonery, his uncle gives the money to Mr. Potter!!

(Bank Scene: Uncle handing over money)

 

He is not the best family man. In service to the community, he puts his family in a terrible situation.

After his uncle hands over the business saving bank deposit to enemy #1, George is broken. He takes out his troubles on his family.

(Home scene: Girl crying at piano)

 

He goes out drinking; Gets in a fight.

(Bar scene: Punched in Bar)

 

Crashes his car.

(Crash scene: Car in a tree)

 

And he is going to end it all by jumping off a bridge. All of this is on Christmas Eve, mind you.

(Bridge Scene: Edge of the bridge)

 

Yes, George is selfless. So, we give him plenty of breaks for his bad business decisions. Yes, George has helped many people in his community. In fact, the community needs George Bailey. The community is better for having George. That is made plain and simple when Clarence the Angle shows him his impact on Bedford Falls.

(Major Scene in Bedford Falls: Running through town)

 

What is not clear is this “Is George better because of his community?”

While the romantic answer is “Yes, of course!” The reality says, “Not really.” By the end of the movie, all of George’s friends give him money to help keep him out of trouble.

(End scene: Money on table.)

 

And that scene makes me cry. Yes, it’s touching. But, do you think this one moment will be the last moment of trouble in George’s life?

Unless George learns how to have a Wonderful Business, he will repeat his troubles time and time again. He will pull his children into the unrewarding chains of the Building and Loan. Like his father before him, George will die of a stress-induced stroke.

Here’s the part that worries me the most about this movie . . . it’s not a movie.

It’s real life.

Sadly, it’s the life that many contractors live day by day. Many of you are serving your community and not of service to yourself or your family. Many of you have made similar mistakes as George.

So, when I give my next piece of advice to George, feel free to pass it on to the person that may need to hear it.

 

How to Have a Wonderful Business

George, I’m your Business Guardian Angel. My name is Todd. I’m an angel first class. I earned my wings helping businesspeople Have a Wonderful Life and a Wonderful Business.

Clarence came here to help you see the value of your life. I’m here to help you change your life by improving your business.

I have five simple rules for you to follow, George.

Rule #1: Get a business coach

George, you learned how to run a business from your father. He was a wonderful man, but he didn’t know business. He taught you poorly.

No, no, George! Business coaches are not like Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter was a miserable old soul. Good business coaches serve everyone. Mr. Potter was only self-serving.

Rule #2: Earn a profit of 15% to 20%

George, you need to pay yourself more money than what you do. And, your business needs to earn a respectable 15% to 20% profit at the end of the year.

George! You think that profits are evil. Why is that, George?

Do you think it is better to struggle every night wondering if you will make it through the next day?

George, if you went out of business, who would serve Bedford Falls?

See George; profits aren’t evil. Profits allow you to weather the storms, George. They allow you to fight against Mr. Potter. They keep you in service to your community.

Rule #3: Surround yourself with the best talent

Let’s talk about your Uncle George.

Oh. Do you know that it’s a problem?!

Then, George, why do you let him handle such important tasks?

You can keep him at the Building and Loan if you like, George. But don’t you think there might be other jobs he would be more suited for? Jobs that he would enjoy more. Jobs that wouldn’t set him up for failure.

Yes, George. That’s right. Keeping your uncle here is unkind.

Rule #4: Relax and enjoy your life

Work is not your entire life, George. Relax and enjoy your life.

Do you remember when you wanted to travel the world? 

You can still do that, George! And, you should do that, George.

You’ve been treating your business like a prison. Oh, my dear boy. It’s not a prison! No, your business is a magical transportation machine. It can take you anywhere you want to go, George!!

And, you need to go, George. You really need to go. It’s time to relax. It’s time to enjoy a little of this wonderful life! It’s time to see the world, George.

Rule #5: Make it happen in 12 months

Here is my last rule, George. And it’s the most important rule of all. Listen closely, George!

Make it happen in 12 months!

Yes, yes, yes, yes, you can.

You can make it happen in 12 months, and you must make it happen in 12 months, George!

Listen closely, my boy. Your time is running out. You will either make these changes this year or….. 

George! Do you know why you must make these changes!?

Then go, George! Go do it now! Don’t wait, my boy!!

 

Question: Do you have a Wonderful Life and Business? 

Are you ready to make a change?

 

Todd Liles is the CEO of Service Excellence.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

When is it Enough?

Written by Steve Mores

How much is enough? Depending on what the “enough” refers to will give us the direction to answer the question based on our opinion. For purposes of this article, let’s discuss financial success and the growth of a contracting business. How much is enough revenue, locations, acquisitions, buildings, techs, salespeople, etc.? This is not a rhetorical question, and there is a wide range of answers depending on your goals and plans. How much is enough depends on how one defines the meaning of enough for themselves.  

 

For some, it may be the pursuit of more money, power, respect, and status. For others, it’s knowledge, giving to charity, doing good, and creating opportunities for other people. If your sole purpose is to get more stuff at all costs, then you will never have enough. Ironically though, you can’t be as charitable and create opportunities for others without the financial wherewithal to do so.

 

As far as financial wealth, most of us can’t even comprehend being a billionaire. Many people think of billionaires, and high-end millionaires for that matter, as greedy people and hedge-fund type folks where it’s all about the pursuit for more money. Yet, most “rich people” got there through years of hard work and starting from a very humble beginning. That’s how I identify with the “rich people” in our service industries. 

 

In a recent article that I was reading, it stated that the minimum someone needs to be relatively happy is $50,000 per year, and the maximum where money won’t make you any happier is $90,000 per year. While that may be true for some, there is nothing wrong with that thought as long as it covers essential needs such as rent, food, and support for family’s needs. Yet, many people have income way beyond this. Their happiness is driven by the opportunities their business creates for others and not the financial status it brings to them. 

 

For me, although I enjoy the income this industry has allowed me to have, money has not been my primary motive. Financial security and safety are important, yet I derive my happiness in business by helping contractors excel in IAQ sales. This, in turn, supports their cause of building a business for themselves, which supports great career opportunities for others.    

 

So, back to dollars and cents. Would you say that a net worth of $80 million is enough? That is considered a pittance to hedge-fund moguls and large mutual fund money managers. Compare that with Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder of private equity firm Blackstone Group, who has a net worth of $12.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Or Abigail Johnson, CEO of Fidelity Investments, has a net worth of $12.2 billion. Or John Bogle, Founder and CEO of Vanguard Group Investors, which is twice the size of Fidelity, who has a net worth of $80 million. Wait! What? Twice the size of Fidelity and John Bogle is only worth $80 million? Is he not a billionaire? Why not? 

 

John Bogle believed that making money in the market should not only be for those with a surplus of money to invest and the funds managers, but for anyone who wants a secure place to create a retirement fund. He founded Vanguard Group in 1976 and is credited with creating the first index fund to allow all people, no matter what income level, to invest in the market. His concept was investment over-speculation, long-term patience over short-term action, and reducing fees as much as possible. The ideal investment vehicle Bogle created as a low-cost index fund held over a period with the dividends reinvested and purchased with dollar-cost averaging. He substantially lowered costs and the exorbitant fees that funds managers were charging. These investments also did not require commissions to brokerage firms and fees to financial advisors; investment banking and legal fees for any mergers and IPOs; and the enormous marketing and advertising expenses entailed in distributing financial products.  

 

This created a new investment vehicle that revolutionized the investment industry to many funds managers chagrin. Vanguard is famous for its no loads, low expenses, and low to non-existent fees and commissions. In January 2020, Vanguard announced that it was dropping commissions on all stocks and options. This lowers the risk and increases the odds in favor of success for the average Joe to accumulate savings for retirement at the expense of massive profits to Vanguard and income to Bogle.  

 

Although Bogle was considered very rich by most standards, it wasn’t all about the money. He could have earned billions more. Bogle’s ground-breaking investment philosophy is about helping investors with low-cost index funds without all of the traditional fees that have lined the pockets of fund managers for years. He said enough, and he wants to ensure that the average citizen can retire with enough.

 

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, author Kurt Vonnegut tells his buddy and fellow author, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have — enough.”

 

John Bogle’s book Enough was based on this quote. And the most remarkable thing about Bogle is that he created trillions of dollars in value for others and kept relatively little of it for himself. He also was known to give half of his income to charity. He had enough!

 

If Bogle were the traditional fund manager, he’d be a billionaire. His investing brand seems obvious now, but it was unorthodox at the time. When Bogle launched the first index fund available to individual investors in 1976, the industry ridiculed it, calling it “Bogle’s folly.” Bogle was still determined to make it a sustainable reality. Today, Vanguard is among the largest money managers in the world, with $5 trillion in assets, roughly two-thirds of which are invested in index funds today.

 

I like to think that we have the same attitude about enough in our service industries as John Bogle did. Albeit at different levels, but enough just the same. The small contractor that runs a profitable company that provides for his family and staff while accumulating funds for retirement and an exit strategy can be very happy and satisfied with enough. On the other end of the spectrum, we have contractors that grow exponentially every year, begin to acquire companies, and expand their reach into other markets and states. Yes, they are obviously accumulating more wealth, yet I find that their main motivation is not money. The money will come, but in conversations with them, I find that it is more about helping other contractors get to a growth position they could not get to on their own and creating good jobs and career paths for others. These empire-builders are also very charitable with their money and share their knowledge and expertise with others. That’s what makes them happy, and it’s enough for them.  

 

A billionaire has the means to obtain everything he or she could ever want in this world, and millions of people may envy their position. But that’s not the point at all. Life is not about the quest for more stuff. It’s about being happy and having enough. You see, the true measure of business, wealth, and life is not how much stuff we can buy and accumulate, rather what we do with the stuff we have during the time we have to use it. In a speech, Denzel Washington discussed wealth and having enough, and he said, “Use it wisely because you will never see a U-Haul being pulled behind a hearse.”

 

Enough IS Enough! 

 

Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.