Method & Schedule
Hello and welcome to part six.
A Recap of our last lesson
Sometimes, accidents happen and although there are some ways of preventing them, we can’t prevent them all so knowing what to do if and when a situation arises can save you a lot of time, money and trouble. Having liability insurance is a must while being able to think ahead and negotiate with your customer is wise.
Sometimes you may end up with an unsatisfied customer so it’s also best to know how to behave as every situation can be different.
Avoid falling out with the customer and if you do, then safeguard your reputation first while making sure you have done everything above board with proof in pictures and emails for support if needed.
How much and when you are paid
forgetting to pay
Own that customer
Other useful skills
Honouring your Guarantee
Best customer service
You gotta be in it to win it and getting paid is what it’s all about so the last thing you need is unnecessary stress when it comes to how you get paid and when you are paid.
Remember, it’s not about making a one-time quick profit, but it’s more about building relationships and ensuring your business is future proof. Customer service is what’s going to make the difference.
Some tradesmen ask nothing from the customer until the job is finished and some tradesmen ask too much from the customer before any work has started.
This ensures me a regular cash flow, customers have always been understanding towards this approach and helpful too.
There are so many ways of doing this, so I am just going to tell you which way I found works best for me and the customer, fulfilling trust on both sides.
Once the customer agrees on the estimate, I request by email a deposit to cover the building materials which guarantees a booking date. I also ask for the cost of any furniture supplied before I need to make any purchases.
Additionally, I ask for payment to be made every Friday to cover the work already completed and then a final payment on completion.
All this takes me no time at all because they are the same messages that I have using for many years, so I just saved them as templates which are all here for you to download and use, so all the work has been done for you.
Ok now let’s talk about the payment method. This couldn’t be any easier when you just simply request a bank transfer, however, we do have to make allowances for those who do not use internet banking – mainly some of the elderly.
It’s always best to discuss in advance which payment method shall be used avoiding any confusion or unexpected delays.
I no longer accept cheques as not only I have to pay a fee to cash them, they are an unnecessary hindrance. I don’t accept cash for jobs which are any longer than a few days as not many of us really use cash much these days, so therefore, I would then have to make an unnecessary trip to the bank.
PayPal incurs fees which nobody wishes to pay. Credit cards are no good as a customer can draw the funds back from your account at any time without needing to justify why.
The card reader is good, however, I have not needed to use one. FOr smaller job (less than £200), I would however highly recommend one. This means you can issue an instant receipt to customers, receive the money instantly and won’t have to chase it up later.
Customers have paid me via the bank cashier. I just give them a printed copy of their invoice with my account details and they just pop that into the bank and it’s all done for them.
Payment on completion
Again, payment on completion means what it says, so don’t be afraid to get on the phone and give the customer a friendly call to just check to see if they had made the payment as you have not received anything your end.
I had to remind a customer 3 times to pay and yes It was embarrassing but most likely more embarrassing for the customer than for me. He kept telling me how sorry he was and how things kept getting in the way.
Part payment not made
I was on a really big job and I never received any part payment. I couldn’t reach the customer by phone, as a result, I had to send a text, email and voice mail explaining that I was unable to continue work until this payment had been made. He paid on a Sunday evening, so although this can be distressing, never be afraid to do this as it’s your business, your rules and your money.
When I say legal action, it’s often the threat with enough evidence to suggest that you have the higher ground which normally results in a payment being made before the dreaded business of a debt collection agency and court action as a last result.
This is why having pictures, emails, terms and conditions, agreements and a job sign off form makes a huge difference.
Any positive comment the customer has said towards you on paper lays against them in a dispute.
Some people may be very happy with your work and even give a good comment on your sign off form and just simply don’t want to pay because they have bad finances.
As I said in section 5, it’s always best to avoid going to court if there is a dispute, however, if they are simply not paying you, then you can use a debt collection agency to weigh the customer down with formal legal threats of action which for us has worked.
In some cases, it’s best to get legal advice and even representation which you can pay insurance for.
In any case, it’s best not to worry about non paying customers as this is very rare, however, it is always best to know what to do in advance just in case it ever happens.
2 year guarantee
Most tradesmen wouldn’t like to guarantee their work for even 1 year, let alone 2. Here is the ironic truth. If any work you do happens to go wrong, you as a business are obligated to put the work rite and most likely for a year. Even for your reputation you would go and put it right. Furthermore, if anything ever goes wrong, it’s 99% of the time within the first few months.
Mentioning to the customer your 2-year guarantee often builds trust and confidence adding more value to your services.
"Own That Customer"
So you got the job, you are with the customer and now the best thing you can do is have the customer use your services again and again.
Having the right attitude and being reliable will give your customers no reason to shop anywhere else, in fact, your customers won’t even care about your price as they can see what they are paying for and if it’s outside of their budget, they can just reduce the workload.
Trust me, the number one reason why tradesmen fail is their customer service is either poor or practically non-existent.
Some tradesmen even double or triple job, meaning they turn up as and when they fit the customer in due to running other jobs simultaneously. This never goes well with anyone.
Always allow yourself time to chat with your customers and get to know them because this way, they will get to know you, know what else you are capable of and use your services again and recommend you.
Politeness costs nothing. If you are running late, just ring them and let them know. They will appreciate the call and above all the honesty.
Even when I have made mistakes, I put it right and the customer was still happy to use my services again and again.
Customer service is where the real money is, so
“own that customer”
As a result, you will be going on more holidays while working fewer hours
Protect your interests by setting out the rules (T’s&C’s)making sure you get paid before during and after work completion. Determine which payment method you are happy with.
Most late payers just simply forget to pay but if you do get a non-payer, try to avoid court by following good practice and remain professional
Own that customer
A great attitude with great customer service will make you a winner bringing you loyal customers while earning you loads more money and always remember to let your customers know what else you can do for them as most people would much rather stick with one tradesman.
- Start with your idea in mind – your business name, profile and what you can offer.
- Learn new skills and combine them while creating a value ladder.
- Build relationships with customers with a great attitude, smart dress and be reliable.
- Only take small risks and ones worth taking – think about your reputation.
- Use professional surveys, emails and quotations to incorporate value perception and your value ladder to maximise your profit.
- Use survey documents and pricing strategies to avoid underpricing.
- Expand your profit even further when supplying furniture.
- Know-how and where you can get your work using good strategies to stretch your budget and quickly build your customer base.
- Be prepared and minimise potential losses in any event of accidental damage, unsatisfied customers and falling out with a customer.
- Know-how, when and what payment method works best for you.
- Know what to do and where you stand if and when you end up with a late payer or someone who refuses to pay.
- Own that customer when they would look no further than using your services and recommend you to others.
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