Educating your customers on products, maintenance, and financing can provide them with affordable solutions for water quality issues and boost your plumbing sales.
Over the past decade, distrust in American tap water has grown increasingly. In 2018, around 60 million people reported not drinking tap water, which has likely only increased since then. From the Flint, MI water crisis and local boil advisories to aging water infrastructure and the East Palestine train derailment, many Americans don’t trust their water sources – even when government officials proclaim the water is safe.
As a plumber, you can directly impact the quality of your customers’ water. Many of your customers may not know their options, but you have the opportunity to educate them.
WHY IS CUSTOMER EDUCATION IMPORTANT?
Customer education may not be something you’ve thought about before. You’re a plumbing expert, after all, and throughout the years, your customers have trusted your expertise without question. But the customer landscape is changing.
First-time homeowners have mostly grown up in a world with information at their fingertips. They aren’t necessarily going to use the plumber their family has used for the past 20 years. Their family’s referral may play a part in their decision making, but first-time homeowners will likely research other options as well. They’ll look for a plumber with a robust digital profile, up-to-date technology and communication options, and a history of educating their customers.
According to Northpass, a leader in customer education, customers need to see value now more than ever. Customers have higher expectations, and your competition is increasing. It helps to have advantages wherever possible – and educating your customers is considerable. A survey by MailChimp found that 74% of respondents consider educating their customers an “important, very important, or extremely important” factor in their profit margins.
Not only does customer education help with sales, but it helps prevent dissatisfied customers, too. You’ve probably gotten a call or two from a customer with buyer’s remorse or who said their product didn’t work when it was functioning perfectly. These reasons for customer dissatisfaction can often be attributed to your customer not knowing how the product works or how it will bring value. Educating on the front end prevents some of these calls from happening later, saving you time and money in the long run. Plus, satisfied customers often spread the word, bringing you even more business.
HOW DOES CUSTOMER EDUCATION WORK IN PRACTICE?
The idea of boosting your plumbing sales by educating your customers sounds great. But explaining your products in a way that makes sense to someone without a plumbing background may be challenging. Where do you even start?
Think big picture when educating customers. You can get into the nitty gritty, but most of your customers want to know the value of a product, not just how a product works. That being said, you can leverage the benefits of educating customers in your plumbing business in several ways.
1. Educate your customers on products and solutions
We live in a day and age where everything is accessible at our fingertips. It can be both a blessing and a curse. You’ve likely experienced a scenario where a customer already knows what they think you should do by the time you get there. But oftentimes, a customer will rely on you as their source of information.
For example, say you service an area with water quality issues. Instead of turning to water bottles, your customer bought a point of use water filtration system from a big box store. This way, they save money but can still guarantee clean water, right? Well, they may be able to control the quality of their drinking water, but not all of their water. You can use this opportunity to educate your customer on point of entry water filtration systems – even if that’s not what you’re there to help them with. Not only are you educating your customer and helping them solve a problem, but you could also boost your plumbing sales.
You can also get creative with your customer education efforts. One Philadelphia-based contractor hosted a lunch and learn for his employees and customers. This strategy tackled three obstacles in one: marketing his plumbing business, educating customers, and training staff.
2. Educate your customers on preventative maintenance
An education topic your customers are sure to appreciate is preventative maintenance. Maintenance means less money they’ll have to spend in the long run, but you’ll still be making money by performing the maintenance.
Suggest your customers replace their faucets and/or pipes to prevent rust and corrosion from contaminating their water, especially if they live in an older home. For those whose pipes and faucets are in good condition, regular maintenance could extend the life of their plumbing system and provide better quality water. Water heater maintenance plans are also a great option for all customers. There’s nothing worse than getting ready for a nice, relaxing shower just to realize your water heater isn’t working.
Since you don’t see all of your customers regularly, preventative maintenance is a great educational topic for your online platforms. Consider adding information about maintenance services to your website and sharing it on social media. Your customers may not know the importance of preventative maintenance and the cost savings that come with it if you don’t share it with them.
3. Educate your customers on affordability
With water bills increasing across the country, your customers may be hesitant further investing in infrastructure they already don’t trust. Their bank accounts are already tight, and this will add another unaffordable bill to the stack. Or will it?
Financing can help make even a large project like replacing pipes affordable. What may seem like an unmanageable amount at first is broken down into monthly payments for the homeowner. And when you present financing options using FTL Finance’s project estimator, homeowners can see how just a little extra each month can improve their plumbing and water quality.
SHARING VALUE THROUGH EDUCATION
We understand the importance of customer education in business at FTL. For instance, all of our contractors have access to a virtual learning course that explains how to use our tools and offer financing to customers. Beyond that, each contractor has two designated support members to provide additional training and answer questions that may arise.
Our contractors see value in offering financing from increased sales and ticket prices; education helps get them there. Your customers are the same way – they won’t necessarily know how they can truly make the most of your products and services unless you help them along the way.