Many successful flooring retailers spend a great deal of time mastering the art of making a great first impression when first greeting a customer in their showrooms. Clearly this is critical, but it’s important to remember that this is not the only opportunity to control first impressions. Let’s examine the opportunities to make positive impressions when the customer meets the installation staff. Remember, whether your installers are employees or contractors, the customer courtesies received should not be discernable, just the feelings of confidence conveyed.
There will have been several impressions made before the installer actually arrives at the jobsite. If goods were custom ordered, was the customer kept aware of the expected delivery dates? Did the store proactively call to schedule the installation, or was this task left to the customer? Was the installation scheduled at a time that was most convenient to them, or the installer? Did you promise a reasonable arrival, or act like the cable company by giving only vague timeframes? These are all interactions that will affect the installer’s day before he ever arrives to perform the work.
First of all, just as I advise sales professionals, the installer should always be respectful of a customer’s time. In a day when everyone has a phone in their pocket, there is no excuse for arriving late without prior notice. A good habit to get into is calling the customer a few minutes prior to the promised arrival time to advise her that you will arrive on schedule. She will now know that you are in fact coming. She won’t feel compelled to look out the window wondering if you remembered her or not. This is a courtesy that she will appreciate. It will also make you stand apart from other service providers. She will now likely greet you at the door with a smile, and you will be well on your way to establishing a good working relationship for the day.
When arriving to perform the installation, a flooring mechanic should always arrive at the door carrying nothing but a clipboard with the jobsite information. They should dress correctly and offer their name. I suggest always finding something complimentary to say about the customer’s surroundings. Such topics may include the family pet, the view out the window, the landscaping, etc. The subject matter isn’t important, but setting a positive tone for the day is. This will give the customer the indication that they are cared about as a person, rather than as just today’s job ticket.
They should ask to see where the work is to be performed and listen to the customer’s wishes. If any potential problems are revealed, they should be pointed out at this time. Should any “surprises” be discovered, the store should always be notified immediately. Remember to never complain or point fingers. Doing so will solve nothing and could begin to put the customer on the defensive.
Now is the time to ask the customer job specific questions (where to set up saws, put furniture, disposal of job waste, location of the water faucet, etc.). Ask the customer’s permission to leave the truck in the driveway once unloaded. Once this has been completed, now is the time to carry in toolboxes and materials.
To the retailer and the installer, these are very important steps. If you were going to have surgery, the doctor wouldn’t meet you in the waiting room wearing a gown and carrying a scalpel! He would counsel you, ask for questions and advise you that he was going to go prepare and would see you in a few minutes in the operating room. He wouldn’t try to intimidate his patient. Rather, he’d do his best to be reassuring and professional in his approach. He wants your respect, and knows how to earn it. While we may not be saving lives with our work, shouldn’t we strive to be just as professional and respected for the work that we do? Do you really think that a clerk wearing an apron of any color at a big box is going to show them this attention?
While these may seem to some like unnecessary steps to take, my experience is that they are a great way to differentiate your firm and will produce a tremendous gain in confidence by the customer. The goal should always be to have as seamless an experierience as possible from your store’s front door to your customer’s front door. In today’s world where properly managing posted reviews is more critical than ever, failure to make great impressions at every turn should never be an option!