Every business can be transformed from a commodity to a superhero. After all, the goal of every business is to have a constant flood of new customers and clients. The problem is that almost everything has become a commodity.
For your business to be successful, your customers can’t view your product or service as a commodity. You have to be irreplaceable and special, a superhero.
So how do you become a superhero? You have to be different. You have to be just a little better than the competition.
Who Isn’t a Commodity?
Can you think of one thing that isn’t a commodity? Your plumber? Probably not. It’s more likely that you either looked online or asked a friend.
So why did your friend recommend a particular plumber? Did they do good work? They used them before and didn’t have any problems? That’s not special and not exactly a glowing review.
What if your friend said the plumber was super courteous and quick. What if the plumber worked in the evenings after they got home from work? What if your friend said they were professional? What if your friend said they were scared to have them in their house?
The Cost of Becoming a Superhero?
So what is the cost of being special? What is the cost of being a little better than the others? Not as much as you think. What you really should be concerned with is the benefit of being special. A superhero to your customers.
You can do all the advertising you want but if you’re not different, you’re still a commodity.
This works with almost all businesses. It doesn’t matter if you are a lawn service, a web designer, a carpenter or hairstylist. If you can do a little better job than the competition, you will reap huge rewards.
How to Stand Out from the Competition
So how do you do things little better? Stop selling a service and start selling an experience. Yes, it’s hard to do at first. But think. What can I do a little better?
Most of the time, it will take very little additional effort. Sometimes it takes a lot. Unless you are completely booked and cannot grow, you need to make your experience just a little better.
Can a Common Trade Become a Superhero?
Let’s look at a trade. Since it’s starting to get hot outside let’s think about an air conditioning repair business. Sure, they’re busy this time of year. But did you know that HVAC companies have one of the highest failure rates of all trades? Yep, 3 out of 4 HAVC repair companies will go out of business within 3 years. So why?
Start With a Strategy
Let’s think about the experience and add a little strategy. So when your customer’s AC is out, they just want it fixed. Great, you just became a commodity. Yes, you got paid a bit now but you’re back to waiting for the phone to ring for the next job.
So what if you fixed the AC and got their email address to send a copy of their bill? What if you called the next day to make sure they were completely satisfied? Of course, you already know they are. You know what was broken and what needed to be fixed. But that’s not the point. The follow-up is another interaction, another chance to stay front of mind with a customer.
Now let’s fast forward a week later. When you left, you gave the customer an invoice and they paid it. You now email the customer a copy of the invoice so that they can keep it on their computer. You explain that you do this in case there is an issue and so that they always have a copy of the original invoice.
Now fast forward a month. When you serviced their AC you changed their filter for free. Filters cost about a buck ( 50 cents when you buy a bunch). You remind the customer that in order to save energy and cut their utility costs, they should changed their filter every month. You remind them of the size and may even tell them what aisle it is on at their local Home Depot or Lowes. You also ask them if they would like a free reminder a month from now. You now have the opportunity to interact with your customer every month!
The great news is that all of this can be completely automated. Now let’s fast forward 6 months. It’s now time to start using our heaters instead of air conditioning.
This is a great time to remind your customer that the first time you run your heater, there will be some dust and maybe an unpleasant odor, They should also do this before the first cold weather. Open a window and let it run for a few minutes. You explain that you do this because no one wants to find out their heater isn’t working on a cold night. You may also want to use this as a reminder that it is best to have your heater inspected once a year.
Add Unexpected Value
Now let’s think. Is there another service that costs about five dollars and could save your customer’s life? How about bringing 5, 9-volt batteries with you. What would your customer think if you changed the batteries in their carbon monoxide and smoke alarms?
Wait, they don’t have a carbon monoxide alarm? Those 5 bucks you spent on batteries has now turned into a carbon monoxide alarm installation. They don’t want it? That’s fine. You just spent 5 dollars on marketing. You see, you put a small sticker with your contact information on the battery. You better believe that customer is going to tell their friends that you just changed their batteries in their smoke alarms.
What is even better? In six months, when that battery needs to be replaced, guess who’s contact information is on the battery?
Who do you think they will recommend when their friend needs HVAC work. Do you think they will also have a story to tell? The guy who reminds them to change their filter every month. The guy who changed their smoke alarm batteries for free. You just went from a commodity to something special. Your cost? five dollars, a 50 cent air filter and 12 emails a year. Do you know any air conditioning company that does this?
The Power of Reciprocity
What if you dropped off a filter with your card 6 months later? There is also a thing called reciprocity. When you give something away people actually feel obligated to buy something. Even if their AC doesn’t need servicing, you have educated your customer that a spring check up and cleaning will save them the price of the service call over the summer.
What if you also told them that the biggest user of electricity in their house is their refrigerator. What if you told them that dirty coils cause it to use more electricity and will cause it to fail prematurely? What if you offered to clean it for free? Your customer would think you are the best AC company ever. Your time? 15 minutes. Your benefit? Well, a customer for life, them telling their friends and a steady supply of new customers.
This strategy can be applied to almost any business. Just take a few minutes and think about your business. What can you do that is different? What can you do that is unexpected? How can you become a superhero to your customers?
If you’re struggling with ways to become a superhero to your customers, give us a call or drop us a line. If we can turn an AC repair man into a superhero, just imagine what we can do for your business.