Engaging Customers During Drain Service Calls Works in Your Favor

Service calls are the perfect opportunity to educate homeowners and build relationships

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There is nothing more powerful than a visual. My favorite quote is, “There’s good news and bad news when putting the camera in your sewer line — the good news is that we will be able to tell you exactly what the problem is, and where the problem is. The bad news is that the camera doesn’t lie and you may get a blast of bad news.”

The old school way of running rods or the jetter down the line, opening the drain and skipping off to your next call is a thing of the past. Getting higher ticket sales requires more effort. The camera is the moneymaker because it does not lie.

Turning a service call into a hands-on customer experience is the way to go these days. The customers want their drains open, but they also want to be involved and know what exactly is going on. If they are partially involved in the whole process from start to finish, they will be on board with your recommendations.

For example, when you first go to a customer’s house you should briefly explain how the process works: “I do drains every day. Here is how the process works. I will start by finding a point in your sewer system where I can access the sewer line. I will then attempt to get it open and put a camera down there to see what is going on and to see why the drain clogged in the first place. Sometimes it’s as easy as a paper stoppage; sometimes it is a piping issue causing the blockage. Let’s pray that it’s just something simple. Wish me luck.”

This opening statement sets the tone for what will happen on the call. You have let them know that you are experienced, and you’ve locked them into your process. It also lets the customer have a game-like engagement with the call. Let them know that it's dangerous to be around the equipment while in operation and that you will let them know when you find anything.

When you get the sewer open, call the customer in and tell them the truth about what you felt — before you put the camera in. Explain that after doing this for a while you can get a “feel” for things, and then explain what you felt. Did you hear the jetter go through a belly? Did your rods feel like they got tangled up on roots or a foreign object? Just be honest and let them stand there watching you as you put the camera in.

“I’m going to put the sewer camera in now and see what’s going on.”

By letting the homeowner see you putting the camera in, you are building trust. If you Google sewer companies, you will find that many homeowners read about horror stories of service companies who lie and use prerecorded tapes showing roots, and all sorts of nonsense. You have eased that tension, you are still on-point with the process you explained in your opening, and you have let the homeowner know that you are both on the same team hoping that everything in the sewer system is copacetic.

If you put the camera in the line and find anything at all, you need to mention it. If you see a few roots you should point them out as you see them. If you run into a belly, explain what it is they’re looking at. If you run into a settled offset, explain what that is and how it can catch debris. If you run into a perfect pipe, then be honest about that too — explain that the pipe looks great; they will be incredibly happy to hear that. Do not get too heavily involved yet with explaining how damaging their piping issue can be.

Once you have established what the problem is and have it on camera, use your locator and explain that the new technology of the camera allows you to pinpoint where this piping issue is. Walk with the homeowner and locate and mark the spot or spots where they are going to have issues. Now head back to your camera setup and explain in detail what is going on with their system, where exactly the problem is, how bad it is in your professional opinion, and what countermeasures should be taken to solve their problem.

Does it need to be dug up? Can it be put on a routine jetter schedule? Do you need to spend some extra time cutting roots? Should it be pulled? Should it be lined? Whole-line replacement? Spot repair? Tell them what you would do if it were your own house.

Give written quotes for whatever permanent repair you’ve suggested after you get everything cleaned up.

What’s missing? Salesmen, fluff, scare tactics, high-pressure sales, etc. You set the expectations, did what you said you were going to do, told the truth, showed compassion, hoped for the best with them, showed them the proof, and gave your professional recommendations. When you get the customer involved the outcome will go in your favor. 


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