Don’t Dismiss Customers’ Questions

Providing an explanation of your work on a service call goes a long way with customers

Most homeowners have only a vague idea, at best, of how their septic system works, even when they’ve been utilizing one for years.

I work on digital content for Cleaner’s sibling publication, Onsite Installer magazine, and one thing that we discuss fairly often is homeowner education. Some of the questions our featured installers get asked are pretty wild.

 For example:

“Why are all these nonbiodegradable products in my system?”

“So now I pump this, what — every 20 years?” 

“How many holes should I shoot through the 55-gallon drum I’m installing as my septic system for my hunting cabin up north?”

“Why can’t I just run my sewer into the river?”

And my personal favorite: “What makes a better septic tank, a car or a pickup?”

But as one installer put it, what seems like a ridiculous question is purely the customer’s lack of knowledge. Before you were trained as a drain cleaner or plumber, you didn’t know everything either. It takes years of learning and making mistakes to gain the knowledge to do this job.

Just like those septic customers, your clients probably don’t know much about the inner workings of their plumbing and drainlines either. But you shouldn’t judge them for it — you should encourage those questions as an easy way to start a conversation and help them learn. That same installer also pointed out that many homeowners have told him they learned more from talking with him during an hour-long service call than in all their years of homeownership. That’s when you know you are doing your job properly.

I know a quick service call is beneficial to your bottom line. The faster you complete a job, the quicker you are on to the next. But, the next time you’re asked a ridiculous question, see it as an opportunity to educate your customer. A client who knows why you’re suggesting a repair or why you’re bringing out the jetter is one who is less likely to complain about the bill. But the reasons for talking things through with the homeowner extend beyond an easier transaction.

Being clear about how you’re going to solve their problem and walking them through it also builds trust. When customers know they can trust you, they are more likely to make you their go-to service provider, and probably recommend you to others. So many contractors we profile in this magazine say they get most of their business through word-of-mouth and referrals, so anything you do to make a good impression on your customers can only help you.

During a busy workday, it’s not always easy to muster the patience to walk a customer through what you’re doing and answer questions about something you’ve done a thousand times before. But some simple explanations can go a long way to assuring your customers you have their best interests in mind.

I hope you enjoy this month’s issue. 


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