Guarantees to stand out in the crowd

In the first of a new regular column offering business advice to plumbing and heating contractors, Aaron McLeish explains the benefits of offering customers warranties and guarantees.  

Let’s face it, the plumbing and heating industry is a crowded sector, with  loads of firms all competing for business. In this climate, some may seek to promote their business as simply a cheap local firm. But what if there is another way? Let’s explore an alternative business model which can be built on a good reputation, backed up with clearly communicated warranties, guarantees and promises.  

Warranties and guarantees can be used to make your firm stand out from the crowd by establishing it as a reputable, trustworthy choice. If you offer sound guarantees a customer may prefer you over a someone else, helping to improve your quote conversion rates. 

Firstly, let’s make sure you understand the difference between a warranty, guarantee and a promise:

Warranty: A written guarantee, issued to the purchaser of an article by its manufacturer, promising to repair or replace it if necessary for a specified period of time. A boiler or parts warranty is commonplace in the industry. 

Guarantee: A formal assurance (typically in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled, especially that a product will be repaired or replaced if not of a specified quality. You may see businesses promoting a 100% satisfaction guarantee. 

Promise: A declaration or assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen. An example would be to promise to turn up in a set time frame. 

Guarantees that work

Besides the manufacturer’s warranty, you can offer your own guarantees to the customer. Given the choice, people would rather go with a company that offers enticing guarantees, and there are plenty of ways you can guarantee your work.

It’s worth noting that you can charge a higher rate if you are providing guarantees. Let’s explore some scenarios for a standard combi boiler replacement:

  Installer 1 quoted £1400 to replace a boiler via WhatsApp. They’re busy though and can’t book them in for three weeks, have no online reviews, and offer only the standard manufacturer’s warranty 

  Installer 2 quoted £1700, the quote was emailed over that evening with a few options of what days were convenient to install. Installer 2 arrived to quote with a printed glossy brochure with a FAQ section and 5-star testimonials. They also offer a turn-up guarantee, have an extended manufacturer’s warranty on their boiler installs, and promise dust sheets are used throughout. 

You might find that many people would be willing to pay a bit extra for the increased guarantees and assurances offered by Installer 2.

Promises you can keep  

What promises do your clients want to hear? If you don’t know, then ask them! You could post on your social media or in a community group, and you could ask as part of each satisfaction survey you send out. They might respond with something like: “I get frustrated that I’m left with a new central heating system and no idea how to use it”.

Once you have the answers, what promises can you make to ease their frustrations?  How about: “We promise to teach you how to use your new heating system and will provide telephone support free for the first 30 days”.

When you have decided on your promises, what systems do you need to have in place to make sure you can deliver on these? If you have a guarantee to do repairs within seven days, do you need a dedicated service and repairs engineer to make that possible? Having written systems for all your team to see should mean you can deliver on all your promises.

As the director of Together We Count, Aaron McLeish is an accountant specialising in the plumbing and heating sector. Aaron is also author of The Quote Handbook. Visit the website here: www.togetherwecount.co.uk

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