Tom  McNall

Floor Restoration Consultant

Way back in 1992, I was starting my business on the side. To make ends meet, I had to have a steady pay check until I had enough to survive out in the great wide world on my own.  So for the 6 months between January and June, I sold cars and trucks for a local Ford dealer.  I have to say that I learned a lot of valuable secrets from the Ford mandated training that I received back in the day… secrets I put into practice then and that are still golden today.

One nugget of selling advice I got was to take a picture of a happy customer in front of the new car that they were picking up. It showed the joy on their face and it showed a shiny, brand- new car without dents, scratches and bald tires.  There are 2 perfectly planned purposes that this photo-taking practice can produce. For one, it gave me (or those who were in the business longer than 6 months, anyway) a plethora of previously pleased purchaser’s pictures to pin to my partition paneling. This would give my new prospects that I would bring in a feeling of security that I had made past customers happy and that I must be trustworthy. This translates into an easier closing process, which means more sales and that meant more money in my pocket.

The second purpose of the picture taking was a little more covert. It also involved investing time and patience. I never benefited from this in selling cars (I was full-time in my own business within 6 months, remember), but I have benefited with it in stone.  You see, the professional sales staff that paid attention and actually took the pictures would wait about 3 or 4 years (depending on how long the new car was being financed) and send a copy of that picture to their customer to remind them of how they felt buying a new car.  It would also make them look at their now 3-4 year old car and think about trading it in to buy a new one… And who better to buy it from than the friendly neighborhood car salesman who just sent them a reminder and cared enough about their happiness to remind them? Who also happens to be someone with whom they have done business, and perhaps trust more readily than a stranger? 

Now, this was all before the age of digital cameras. Do you remember how much work it was to develop pictures and mail out envelopes with stamps?  Not to mention you had to keep a written reminder log and calendar because in 1992, only the rich had decent computers and even then, the software for this type of thing was clumsy to use and hard to program. Today, saving digital pictures and emailing them is a snap.  So: what is stopping you?

Think about it! How does reminding a customer of how great their floors looked 4 years ago hurt you? A simple personalized email is easily written and you can attach before and after pictures with ease. If you give them a reason to think about their stone, its condition, and instill a desire to have it look brand-new again, it is like a farmer having the ability to make it rain at will to produce a full crop. Not every customer is going to call you for repeat business right away, but enough will to keep you busy. Some may call you 2-3 months after you send the correspondence.  And even more still will refer their friends to you.

This also works for jobs you did samples for (see last month’s article) and yet they didn’t move forward for various reasons. It keeps the idea of how it could look fresh in their mind, and if it means getting the money for the job (either from a board of directors or their own wallets), then they will try once again to jump that hurdle.

Taking pictures whenever you price a job can help you in more ways than closing salesTaking pictures whenever you price a job can help you in more ways than closing sales. If the job is awarded, the pictures can be used to let the technicians know what to expect. This will help them to know if they need to plan on taking specialized equipment from the shop or to allow for protecting certain elements of the customer’s surroundings (carpet, statues, etc).  

And another bonus of taking pictures is that they can serve as digital underwear in the sense that it covers your hind end.  Sometimes trim is already broken or scuffed before our crew moves in our equipment.  Sometimes there is a stain on the carpet before we tape it off.  Having our estimators look for and record damage ahead of time and bringing it to the attention of the property manager or homeowner before our team sets up keeps us from being in a losing position once the blame game starts. 

So, don’t forget your cameras my friends and also, make sure your technicians have either really good camera phones or carry a digital camera as well. Because all the before pictures in the world are useless without “after” pictures for advertising. This helps customers who have never known you put their trust in you.

Until next month, keep your stick on the ice. 

Tom McNall is founder and owner of Great Northern Stone, an Ontario-based stone cleaning and restoration company servicing Ontario and Chicago, IL. Tom also offers corporate and private consultations as well as speaking at conventions. He can be reached at