A "service" is consumed at the time it's purchased. It can't be picked up and examined like a tool in the hardware store. You can't kick the tires
of a service. To try it is to buy it. As a result, consumers look for signals that indicate what kind of service they will receive.
Surprisingly, they also judge the quality of the service by similar tangibles.

Clean Uniforms
Dressing your service personnel in clean, neat uniforms signals professionalism. The dirty tee shirt of most service personnel is cliché,
but one with a basis of truth. People feel better about the work that's done if they think a professional did it.

Some service companies are taking steps to differentiate themselves away from the blue collar image of work uniforms by outfitting their personnel with heavy duty polos. The polo carries the company logo, monogrammed. These companies believe the shirt signals more of a technical service, rather than straight labor.

Trucks
If your service vehicles are dirty, consumers wonder how neat you are in the performance of your service. Clean trucks help present a good image to new customers. They also help reinforce the decision to do business with you among existing customers.

Paperwork
Paperwork is a similar measure of your company's professionalism. Do you order crash imprinted forms from a business form mill or does your
paperwork reflect your professionalism? Remember, consumers not only judge you by your tangibles before they call, but the tangibles influence their attitude about the quality of service they've received.

Bag It
When you perform maintenance for a homeowner, they often aren't aware of how necessary it was. They don't know how dirty their equipment was. Demonstrate it for them dramatically.

Air conditioning contractors can take the gunk cleaned off an evaporator coil and place it in a baggie. Then, affix a label on the baggie that
reads, "This was removed from your home's air conditioning system. To keep build up like this from occurring in the 'lungs' of your home, we
recommend annual cleaning and maintenance by a professional service company." Frankly, this is likely to disgust your customer. It will also
ensure that they never miss a year of maintenance again.

Plumbing contractors can follow suit by filtering the deposits when they flush a water heater. Place them in a baggie with a label that declares the residue to have been found in the home's hot water storage system. They'll want their water heater flushed every year.

Virtually every company that performs maintenance has an opportunity to dramatically illustrate the need for their service.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.