No Contract, No Service!
One of the things that has been bothering me of late is the number of service providers who believe they are too important or too good to speak with prospective customers before a contract is signed. In other words, no contract, no service! “No, I can’t give you an estimate of what the job will cost until you commit to working with me.” Can’t, or won’t?
What these people are trying to tell you is that you can not work with them before committing to spending money with them. Is this really any way to run a business, build rapport with customers and further a positive business image? IMHO: I don’t think so!
I don’t care if you’re a doctor, an architect, a plumber or tree trimmer. If you’re a service provider of any kind and won’t provide a prospective customer a few minutes of your time to describe what you know, or not allow the customer the opportunity to ask questions and see if they can actually work with you, they don’t deserve your business.
Now in the case of a doctor, you may not get a lot of time to interview them about their specialties and knowledge, especially during normal business hours. But a medical practitioner taking a few minutes to speak with a prospective patient can soothe their fears, address their concerns, and help them understand that they will feel comfortable and have successful outcomes from working with that professional.
Lawyers smartly don’t frequently give out too much free legal advice. Doing so would only encourage people to represent themselves in court! But an attorney who gives a few minutes of their time to a prospective client can confirm if their legal expertise and specialties are in line with the needs of the client.
Same holds true for a building contractor. If you want to have work done on your home, why would you want to work with someone who won’t give you a realistic idea of what your costs will be, or allow you to determine if they are a good fit personality wise? Unless a contractor specializes in a particular aspect of construction, the company’s website photographs won’t necessarily illustrate if they have experience with roofs, foundations, plumbing or electrical work, or say who their preferred subcontractors are, or if they are willing to work in your neighborhood. If the contractor won’t give the prospective customer a few minutes of their time to ask questions, how can the customer be confident about the work to be done? They can’t!
Imagine walking into a dry cleaner with your custom tailored outfit. Would you entrust this business with your important garments if you weren’t confident about their ability to safely and properly clean them? Would you pay them up front before knowing they don’t work on a particular fabric or if they use harsh toxic chemicals in their cleaning solutions? “No,” “No” and “No”.
Smart consumers do not generally make a firm commitment to buy unless they are comfortable or familiar with what they are buying. So why should it be any different for goods and services? The exception being that when we buy online we usually know what we’re ordering; then provide a credit card number, and the merchant then has our money before our order ships. Thankfully some companies won’t debit your card until your order goes out.
In an era where consumers have multiple choices for the procurement of any goods or services, it behooves a service provider to make sure the customer knows – up front -what they’re getting and what their costs will be. It builds customer confidence and trust, and a better chance of satisfaction upon job completion, when all is revealed from the outset. A satisfied customer is more likely to bring in repeat business and refer others to do the same. This stimulates the economy, creates jobs and allows your money to circulate in your local community.
If you’re a service provider, take the time to answer prospective customer questions to build a rapport and customer loyalty. If you’re a consumer, don’t hesitate to ask questions of service providers. Get all your questions answered satisfactorily before contracts are signed and money is exchanged. Don’t set yourself up to be a free-flowing money spigot. Know what you’ll get for your hard earned dollars before you make a commitment.
If a service provider insists on money up front and you’re not convinced that company is whom you want to do business with, don’t give ‘em a dime. Make sure you know what you’re getting and what it will cost you before you sign anything. You’ll be a better consumer and a smarter customer for doing so.