Ok, boys and girls, the word for the day is praxeology. It’s the belief that individuals engage in mindful actions for a specific goal. Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist, developed the idea. Huh? What?

Let’s keep it simple. Have you ever seen a rat that chose the Starbucks dumpster over others? Does a bird collect one unique seed because there’s only one seed in the world like it and values it as art? People have the ability to apply psychological value to what they covet. Our brain is more than a human calculator and helps us decide what’s valuable. We have desires, emotions, preferences and other immeasurable thoughts running through our heads. We derive pleasure from buying certain things and such pleasure drives value. Numerous studies have shown that the price of wine influences what people think regarding its value. If it costs more, it has to better. People pay more for certain brands of clothes, cars, shoes, beer, etc. because buying is an emotional process.

Every contracting experience is made up of two components. The actual technical part of the job, and the service or psychological part of the experience. Most of your customers don’t understand the craft side of what you’re going to do, but they do understand the service side of the equation. They know if you’re on time, polite, clean cut, etc.

Restaurants are a good example of what we mean by both the technical part and the service. The actual food is the technical component and the service covers everything else. A local restaurant can have great food but if the bathroom and floors are filthy, you will question your dining experience (remember, the same guy probably cleaned both the bathroom and kitchen.) A restaurant can buy more expensive food, but more value might be created with inexpensive white table cloths or nice looking menus. No matter how good the steak is, a greasy spoon diner has a hard time selling a $30 steak. Likewise, a contractor with poorly dressed crews that are impolite will have a hard time generating referrals.

Rarely does anyone receive personalized service any more. If we do, it’s some poorly trained airline employee or an auto follow-up dealer person calling to interrupt us with a question regarding their service. Really. No one cares. Oh, yes, what about those wonderfully impersonal emails that are sent to us? Thanking us and letting us know how we’re appreciated when they can’t even spell our name correctly.

You can buy better building materials, but such purchases are expensive. It may be more effective and less costly to upgrade the service side of your business. What can you do to create value outside of the actual craft part of the job? Remember, value is as much psychological as tangible.  

Branding is the process of creating a unique image of your company in the consumer’s mind. Truck lettering, job signs, crew appearance and practices all play an important part of this. Advertised leads cost money, but referrals are free. Make your effort personal and real.

Send a confirmation of your appointment prior to the sales call. Google the customer’s name so you know something about them.

Following a sales call, consider sending a handwritten thank you note following your visit but make sure you mention something unique that was discussed. It takes two minutes to do while sitting in the truck.

When the job is awarded, knock on ten doors in each direction. Give each resident a business card. Tell them you’ll be working in the area and if there are any concerns about your trucks or crews regarding parking or set up to let you know. This is a great way to build value while generating leads.

Have your foreman knock on the door and introduce himself prior to starting the job.   He or she should look professional and will ideally have a badge with a photo of them for identification. Make sure they’re in a company shirt and dressed accordingly. If they’re subs, you may have to use a product shirt or generic shirt that says “crew.” If they have your name on them, they’ll be considered employees by tax and wage hour authorities. The foreman should ask where to park the truck, are there any pets to be aware of, etc. (It’s always good to find out about the Doberman prior to starting the job.)

Always have the foreman walk the job, preferably with the customer, prior to leaving. This can prevent call backs and back charges. The crew should look for tools, job trash, etc. The foreman might actually get a tip or two. Use this opportunity to be polite and drive psychological value.

Think about it. What small inexpensive things can you do in your company that will set you apart and build value? Years ago, I set up an image program for a company called Rose Plumbing. We left a rose at the end of each and every job. We had a rose painted on the truck. The entire concept was a huge success. Remember, if all else is equal, people will pick price. Work harder to make your company stand out.