April 9, 2019

A Thought About Being A Local Business

By Paul Bieber

Timing is everything, of course. Last Monday evening, after dinner, our kitchen sink became stopped up. I tried Drano and a plunger and a snake, nothing worked. But here is the timing thing. On Tuesday morning we were on our way to the hospital for Elaine’s knee replacement surgery and the sink was way down on my priority list.

The surgery was a success and Elaine was doing well. I was at the hospital until late on Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon Elaine was cleared to come home, which was wonderful. I got her all set up and we both just collapsed in bed.

Thursday morning, Elaine was okay, and the sink was still stopped up and jumped to the top of my list of to-dos.

I know a little bit about glass, but what I know about plumbing is nothing. Fortunately I have used a local plumber in the past. I called him but he was out-of-town on a commercial job. His recommended second choice was also unavailable. Time for Google. There were hundreds of plumbing listings for my area, which is a no-go as our town is just the right size for maybe a half-dozen or so. There were 800 numbers listing plumbers across the state. I called one and the phone was answered in Florida. When they asked me what town I was in, and what state, I knew this wasn’t for me.

I left a message on three plumbers’ answering machines. It took only a few minutes to get a call back. The plumber, Mark, said he would be here around 4:30. And he was. It took him and his helper an hour and a half to fix it. I told Mark how pleased I was with his service. He told me that he answers every message on his cell phone within 20 minutes. He treats every call like an emergency, Mark told me. He worked a 13-hour day that day with a follow-up call after he left us. He was pleasant and left our kitchen cleaner than when he walked in.

Can a glass company give this kind of service? You bet we can in our industry. Return every call ASAP. Call when you are going to be more than five minutes late. We can’t do every job on the spot. We have to go to the shop and cut glass. More often than not, we have to wait for a fabricator to bring in insulating glass or tempered products. Even so, keep in constant contact with your customer, letting them know you are waiting for their glass to come in. When you go into a customer’s home, wear disposable booties on your work boots. Don’t leave anything out of place. Carry a vacuum cleaner in your truck and clean the area you worked in. Follow up the next day to see if they have any concerns or questions. Thirty days out, send a reminder asking if their glass work is okay and ask if you can do anything else. Ask the customer to recommend you to their friends and associates. Say thank you.

So there, in one paragraph, is the key to growing your business. Good luck.