Latest from Columns

ArtistGNDphotography/Getty
Photo 51372886 © Thinglass | Dreamstime.com

A Service Story

May 16, 2024
Photo 210659396 © Freemanhan2011 Dreamstime.com
Illustration 9227645 © Ashestosky | Dreamstime.com
Photo 161233010 © Jamesteohart | Dreamstime.com
Photo 43963025 | Business © Choneschones | Dreamstime.com
Photo 144580460 © Thinglass | Dreamstime.com
Direct Mail Dreamstime L 144580460
Ekaterina79/iStock/GettyImagesPlus
False Claim 5ed7a9f15a0b1

3 Ways Contractors Hurt The Industry’s Reputation

June 3, 2020
Air conditioning contractors do not always have the best reputation in the public’s eye. Here are three ways that contractors make bad perception worse with the public.

1. Contractors Participate in Stings
Every so often, a TV news show decides that a good way to boost ratings is to expose contractors behaving badly. Typically, the news show recruits a local contractor to help set up other contractors, though it is not always a contractor. 

Once, a distributor helped set up contractors for a national TV show, which backfired when one of the distributor’s best dealers was, um, exposed when one of the company’s technicians exposed himself in the side yard seeking relief from excess coffee. It took some fast footwork and quick phone calls by the distributor to transform the narrative so their dealer came out looking like a hero for quickly terminating technician, who was also caught fudging a cash invoice for a personal bonus.

These aren’t the only way stings backfire on the participants. One contractor decided to help the TV station and tip off several of his buddies. One came across smelling like a rose until a technician tipped off the station they were had. Nothing infuriates a TV reporter like getting scammed when attempting to expose a scam, so a follow up report dragged the contractor who set up the sting, and all of his buds through the mud, including the guy who simply deflected the TV station by claiming his job board was full when they called.

The contractors who come out ahead in stings are usually the one-truck guys who price at the bottom of the market. Oh, and the contractor who helps set up the sting.

Trying to protect your friends is one thing. There are also contractors who help the TV stations because they see this as a great opportunity to damage their competitors.

The problem with stings is they are designed to make good contractors look bad. If a technician does anything besides identify the loose wire or whatever else is wrong, the TV station will paint the contractor as a crook.  How dare he offer a suggestion about other work!

If a technician does anything besides identify the loose wire or whatever else is wrong, the TV station will paint the contractor as a crook.  

If the contractor charges more than the diagnostic, he’s also likely to be portrayed poorly.  God help the contractor whose technician makes an honest mistake and misdiagnoses the issue.

The contractors who come out ahead in stings are usually the one-truck guys who price at the bottom of the market. Oh, and the contractor who helps set up the sting.

In truth, the only winner in a sting is the TV station. Consumers forget the names of the companies involved, but remember that the industry is filled with corruption, so that wise consumers should be skeptical about the trade as a whole.  Great.

If a TV station approaches you about helping to set up contractors for a sting, you might be tempted to go along since this ensures you won’t be stung. However, a better approach is to decline to help with a sting and instead, encourage the station to do a positive piece on the industry, how people can save money, and what they should look for in a contractor.  

If the station is set on a sting, do not help. Call the local trade association to help put word out that a TV station is working on a sting.  Make sure your own techs are aware to be fully alert to the possibility of a sting. Maybe the TV stations will come up empty and go home. 

2. Contractors Slander Other Contractors
Almost every successful contractor has been the subject of slander from the trade.  Usually, the superficial basis of the slander is the temerity of the contractor to know his numbers and charge accordingly. 

The underlying cause of the slander is envy, and that makes one miserable. Thus, the contractors who slander others are generally miserable people, unhappy with their lot in life and unable to accept, let alone take pleasure in the success of others. If only they could learn to emulate those who are more successful, they would not only know greater success, but greater happiness in life.

Contractors who slander others are generally miserable people, unhappy with their lot in life and unable to accept, let alone take pleasure in the success of others.

When they point a finger at others, they unwittingly point three fingers back at themselves. They are unwilling or unable to accept that the source of their problems, the limitations on their success is the man staring back in the mirror.

The successful contractor becomes a testament to their own failures. The successful contractor represents proof of what they could be, but for their own limitations. To paraphrase Disney’s “Lion King,” they could be more than they have become.

If slandered, do not fight back. Meet the contractor who is slandering you face-to-face, WITH COMPASSION.

If slandered, do not fight back. Meet the contractor who is slandering you face-to-face. Do not meet with an eye towards confrontation, but with compassion. This is a miserable person who deep down at a subconscious level, if nowhere else, recognizes a lack of achievement and is dissatisfied with life. By taking shots at you, he is really taking shots at all contractors. Consumers do encounter intra-trade slander and think, he is a good guy and you are a bad guy. Consumers think the whole trade must be rotten and they need to be on their guard.

By sitting down with a slandering contractor and trying to understand what he is truly upset about you have the opportunity to help him understand there is a better way. Offer to help the contractor. Turn him from slandering competitor to ally.

If your efforts are rebuffed, and they very well may be, just remember that the lead sled dog always has the best view. The slanderer will always be chasing you from behind, biting at your ankles. You are big enough to handle it and moving fast enough to leave him in the dust.

3. Contractors Put Down the Trade
Some contractors think that pointing out what they consider to be deceptive practices causes them to be seen on the side of angels. They rail against flat rate pricing, against performance pay, and any other business practice introduced after 1990.

Never talk about the poor practices of someone in the trade or reinforce negative stereotypes.

Other contractors highlight the negative stereotypes of the trade as a way of drawing a contrast with their companies. However, it is a truism that one cannot build himself up by tearing others down. Instead, everyone is brought down. 

Never talk about the poor practices of someone in the trade or reinforce negative stereotypes. This is the same as standing at a golf tee and telling yourself not to slice. You are programming the subconscious with what you do not want. Instead, talk about what you do want and what you do represent. Stand at the tee and tell yourself you are going to drive it straight down the fairway. Tell consumers about the distinctively superior service you will deliver.

For support with your business, join more than 5,000 businesses in the Service Roundtable. For $50 a month, you receive unlimited downloads of sales, marketing, and business management material and templates, the assistance of the best contractors in the industry, and cash back on purchases from more than 140 companies through the Roundtable Rewards buying group.  Call 877.262.3341 or visit www.ServiceRoundtable.com.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.