Building trust is essential in business. If you don’t have clients or customers trusting your work, they won’t hire you, they won’t refer you, and they won’t return.
Every interaction is either building trust or eroding trust. The way every client expectation is handled, or not handled, is either building trust or eroding trust. In this blog, we will discuss six ways to build trust in your home improvement or home service business.
1. Be on Time
This sounds so simple, but far too many contractors treat the client’s time as worthless. People rearrange personal and work schedules to meet with you, and keeping them waiting creates frustration and erodes trust.
The only thing that seems to be worse than waiting in the waiting room for your doctor’s appointment is waiting on a contractor. People hate it.
Showing up early is almost as bad as showing up late. Oftentimes people are hurrying up to finish chores, get dressed, or put on makeup just in time for you to arrive.
Being on time is not always possible, but you know what is possible? Dialing their number and telling them you are running a few minutes late… no excuses. Calling when you are running late will build trust. Sometimes it can even build more trust than actually showing up on time because it shows people that you care about their time enough to call them when things don’t go as planned.
People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting. (French Proverb)
2. Don’t Leave Them in the Dark
I’ve observed over the past 30 years that a well-informed customer is a happier customer. Never leave a customer feeling like they are forgotten or ignored. When you leave them in the dark or make them feel ignored, you kill the trust.
One of the excuses I have heard from other contractors and even my own employees is, “I don’t have an update. Nothing has changed.” That’s like never telling your spouse you love them because you told them at the altar when you got married. “I love you, sweetie, and I’ll let you know if that ever changes.”
Call them and let them no that you don’t have an update or that you still waiting on something. Never leave your client’s feelings unattended. Great communication will build trust.
3. Treat Their Property with Respect
When I was a teenager working retail at Sears selling Craftsman tools, I had a 1984 Jeep CJ-7 that had a problem idling properly and would die when I would let my foot off the gas to stop at a light. This was before fuel injection, and the carburetor needed adjustment. So, I took the Jeep to the local Firestone for them to take a look at it.
I gave them the keys, and they pulled it in, propped up the hood, and took a quick look. It only took a few minutes, and I peered through the glass from the waiting area. When the mechanic was don looking, he removed the bar that propped up the hood, and rather than let it down gently, he literally dropped the hood from like 3 feet up. The hood and fender of my Jeep were damaged, and I was appalled.
Further, Firestone would not take any responsibility for the damage. Here’s the point: I have never done business with a Firestone anywhere, ever, since that incident.
That memory is still burned in my mind, and it became the foundation of my respect for my customers’ property. From how I opened and closed the gates at doors, to taking my shoes off when I enter without being asked, I want to show that I respected their home… their slice of the American Dream.
When a contractor of any kind is at my home, I always take notice of the way they close the fence gates around my home. Mine have springs on the hinges to close them automatically, and if you just let go, they will slam. I notice if they are paying attention. If they let them slam… they never get hired.
Respect your clients’ property; they are watching.
4. Be Present in Person As Much as Necessary
In a home service business, you shouldn’t need to sit and babysit your team working on the client’s home. If you do, you need to upgrade your team. However, there are times with you need to plan to be there. For instance,
- When you are ensuring your team delivered what you promised.
- When something goes wrong
- When there’s a question that’s difficult to articulate on the phone.
With great today’s cell phones with great cameras, apps like FaceTime, CompanyCam, and Zoom can greatly enhance communication, but they are not a replacement for face-to-face…the real Face-time.
When you show the initiative to drop what you are doing and show up in person, you will build trust.
5. Don’t Pretend to Be an Expert at Everything
While you do want to be an expert at what your client hired you to do, you cannot be an expert at everything. People know this. Whenever you try to come off as an expert by pretending, not only do your clients see through this fairly quickly, but it will also erode their trust in your character and in the area you really do have expertise.
It’s perfectly ok to communicate your knowledge or expertise limitations. People will appreciate it. It will build trust. Additionally, if you can refer them to someone who does have expertise in the area they need, you will build even more trust.
6. Follow Through On Promises After You’ve Been Paid
At my company, Phillips Home Improvements, we use the term “final” to describe the status of a sale. When a sale is final, it means that all promises have been delivered by all parties:
- We completed the project
- Client paid in full <- Many contractors close the file here
- We have sent a paid-in-full statement
- We have completed and remaining touchups or delivered anything extra that we promised at the last money, like touchup paint.
If there are still open promises in either direction, the sale is not final. So when I ask my team, “Is the sale final” they know exactly what I mean. That means that I will not get a call tomorrow or next week from the client stating that we failed to come back for something.
Trust is everything.
Another area that will build or erode trust is how you respond to clients weeks, months, or years down the road when they have a service request or a warranty claim. These types of calls are not seen as driving revenue, so many contractors don’t prioritize them. At my company, we see these requests as opportunities to show existing clients that they are important, more than a transaction and that we care… It’s an opportunity to create a WOW experience, even if there was a product failure.
WOW’d clients are raving fans and ambassadors for your brand.
Building trust is not that hard if you try, but it really just starts with caring. When you truly care about your client and see them as a person rather than a transaction, most of these things will come naturally. Spend time telling and showing your team care for your clients, and you’ll be building trust and reaping the benefits in a short time.