More than a handyman

The DIY phenomenon continues to explode all around us—new TV channels, websites, blogs, advice columns, big box stores, magazines designed to help regular Joes take on their own home improvement projects pop up every week. Especially because of a down economy, more people have turned their focus to doing things themselves in order to save a buck or two. It’s starting to affect your business.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. A homeowner calls you because he’s got a problem with his water system. You go to his house, diagnose the problem, and give him a quote to fix it. His eyes get wider than a full moon in October, he says thanks, he’ll let you know, and you wait for a call that never comes. Or, even worse, the guy starts spouting about how he saw the same pump in the big box store down the street at a lower price, and why-should-he-pay-you-to-install-it-when-he’s-always-been-good-with-tools-and-it-can’t-be-that-hard.

How do you respond to that?

You’d better have a good answer ready at any time because ultimately, your business depends on it.

First off, you have to understand that you add a lot of value to this transaction. You’re not just a handyman hired to do the labor. You’re a professional contractor. That means you not only know how to install a pump, you also understand the whole system. You know how all the components work together, and more importantly, WHY. You know when a system is too big or too small. You know how to troubleshoot. You can use your meters to determine whether a system is working properly, whether it is functioning below optimal performance, or whether any component is completely shot. You’re the expert.

Fine, you say, but this guy doesn’t care. He knows he needs to replace his submersible pump (or his jet pump or his tank or…) and none of that other stuff matters to him. To that I say you know what you’re doing. You’ve done scores of these, probably hundreds. You offer speed and efficiency and—oh by the way—professional grade products you know the homeowner can count on for years. Those products also allow you to offer better warranty coverage. Again, you know what you’re doing. When we’re talking water systems, downtime is critical. Your expertise is worth a lot.

Let’s not forget Mark Reeder’s previous post about the double ground. Most homeowners don’t know the difference between a two-wire and a three-wire pump/motor or which one requires a control box. There are big differences in cable, too; a homeowner may not know what gauge wire to use or that submersible pumps require submersible cable, but you do. And speaking of cable, electricity and water make a tricky mix. If the splice isn’t done right on a sub, it’ll fail in no time, and hopefully no one gets hurt.

I could keep going, but I think you get my point. This exercise is about understanding who you are and what you have to offer—and being ready to communicate it. Sit down for a few minutes and think about how you’ll answer a homeowner’s questions the next time. As a professional water systems contractor, your expertise is valuable. Don’t shortchange yourself.

Note: Tammy Davis, Director of Corporate Communications at Franklin Electric, provided this week’s post as a guest blogger.

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