There are many aspects of running a business and one that is often overlooked is Professional Etiquette. This includes how you present yourself to the customer and how you talk to the customer. Making a mistake here could mean the difference between landing the bid or service and not closing on the deal. Below are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
Your service truck should be clean and presentable. Even an older truck can be kept in good shape. Showing up with a washed and clean vehicle is important. A vehicle wrap is a good idea and does make you look more professional. But don’t over do the wrap or the customer my get the impression that you are someone who will be charging very high rates. Wearing a uniform or at least slacks with a clean shirt is a must. The first impression on how you look is the one that will determine if you land the bid or not.
From there greet the person with “sir” or “ma’am” or if you know they are a professional like a doctor, use the proper title “How are you today Dr.” If the person you are meeting is a lady wait for her to extend her hand for a handshake. It is up to the person of the opposite sex to decide if they want physical contact. If it is a man, extend your hand for a firm handshake. Make good eye contact and smile.
Your language is important in business. I am a big proponent that cursing, swearing and slang have no place in the professional business world. If you curse in your private life that is fine, just keep it out of your business life. Cursing is a sign of ignorance and you want the potential customer to see you as an educated professional. Slang is also a sign of ignorance so no “dude” or “man” should be coming out of your mouth when doing a bid or talking to the customer going forward.
If the customer’s kid or kids are present during the bid, simply acknowledge their presence with a simple “hi.” Do not engage the customer’s child in conversation. You are a stranger to the family and kids don’t talk to strangers. Some parents might not appreciate you talking to their kids, I for one do not like it when adults try to engage my son in a conversation. So basically, ignore the kids during the bid and you will be fine. It is not being rude, you are following good etiquette.
Never talk bad about a customer while you are at the property, nor in a text message or in any other form. If you are talking bad about someone they may find out. If the customer is cheap or hard to deal with keep it to yourself. You may consider dropping them in the future but if they over hear you bad mouthing them that could be very awkward indeed.
When you are doing a bid for pool service you will want to give them the bid on the spot. That is why they called you. For a General Contractor it is understandable that you will need to email a detailed bid later, but for something like a pool or lawn service you should be able to bid on the spot. Consider the pool size, trees over the pool, usage and equipment and then come up with your typical service rate. You should have a good idea of what you bid from pool to pool before you go out and start taking bids for service. Not being able to give the potential customer a bid on the spot may seem unprofessional by some.
The first impression is the one that will stick so work on your presentation at home. It is an uphill battle if you present yourself as rude or unprofessional. Think about how you want to be treated when you go out to a restaurant or have a service bid presented to you.