Don’t Confuse Loyalty with Familiarity

By: Dave Wright, Craftsman Republic®

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I often see those in the construction trade confuse loyalty with familiarity. Whether it is how they look at their Customers or Products, they expect and give loyalty.

The issue is that Consumers are only loyal when it benefits them. To expect them to wait a long time for installation, or any service, is a sure way to lose their business.

In past surveys, the most trusted people in the home industry were Sears Service Technicians. At that time, service times were short, they had trucks and uniforms when others did not, and they often told Consumers when it was cheaper to buy a new appliance (from Sears) than repair an old one.

In another survey, they were believed to be more truthful than the Consumers’ clergy. One bad service call, delays in repair time, or service expense that exceeds replacement cost, and that image goes out the window. It is not loyalty but reputation and familiarity.

Too many of us ask existing Customers to wait while we pursue new Customers. We think the existing relationship will last, do we assume loyalty? We know it is hard work to find another trustworthy technician or plumber. Is it really? Have you seen ads for Angles List, Porch, Takl, and Thumbtack? Telling Consumers that service is available with the touch of a button? So how should you keep your existing Consumers?

Well, ignoring them is not a solution. Would you like to pay twenty dollars and get a lead for your existing Customer? Make sure they are familiar with the services you provide. Send them birthday cards, holiday emails, and general inquiries not related to your business. Treat them professionally, they were not shopping for friends when they called you. Never refer them to anyone you don’t trust, and remember if you did a good job, they know your business, and you do not have to tell them what you do.

I have heard Craftsmen say, I only install a certain kind of faucet or I prefer a certain brand of appliances. These Craftsmen sometimes refuse to compromise, they know where to get a better price on a certain brand or they think some brands are easier to repair when repair is needed. They may even insist that the Consumer purchase their preferred brand. Some Craftsmen will even go as far as badmouthing another brand, one that they never purchased or had any experience using. It is the old Ford versus Chevy argument that no one can win. So, my advice is this: listen to the Consumer.

Consumers often have brand loyalties and it is best not to argue over them, after all, marketers in our industry depend on this behavior and work hard to develop it. If another Product on the market has the same features and benefits, it still will not do for brand loyalists. Many are willing to wait longer for essentially the same Product and will even pay more for the same thing with a different brand name.

When I worked at a large Retailer, they had rebranded a certain shoe company for many years, long before the brand was promoted and became popular. You could not convince anyone looking for the fad shoe that the private label brand was the same exact thing at a lower price. Even if you showed them the two shoes side-by-side. Most of them looked at me and I could see “yeah, right” written all over their faces. We would order the name brand for them at full price and wait for them to come in. When they got them, they were delighted? Again, they could have had the same shoe, immediately, with another name on it at a lower price.

Loyalty is defined as unswerving in allegiance. So why would anyone be unswerving to a product or service? The answer is they are just familiar. If you can’t explain it, you should not fight it. If you switch Products on one of these loyal Consumers, you will end up with an unhappy Consumer. No matter what you say, you will be considered a second-class installer for not giving them the product they wanted.

So, my point is to listen intently to the Consumers desires and make them come true. If the Consumer expresses a strong desire for a specific Product, take the time to make it happen for them. Make sure they are familiar with you, and that you retain your existing Consumers.

At Craftsman Republic®, we help our Clients by installing the Products they prefer. We may install many different brands of the same Product. We hope that our Buy It Installed® button will be familiar to them as it appears on more and more websites and they will push it with confidence regardless of their other preferences. We ask our Craftsman to take certifications, so they can reassure Consumers they made the right choices as to brand and Installation. We want you to be familiar with the Products before you arrive on the job, and never ever, badmouth them.