What influences a customer when they’re choosing an installer? – Tim Pollard Unfiltered

In his exclusive Unfiltered column,  Tim Pollard takes a look at the things that customers may consider, when they’re searching for an engineer to carry out work in their property.

One of the best bits of advice I ever received as a young man was ‘Dress for the job you want, not for the job you’ve got.’ The world is littered with sayings about images, because images are often the only thing we have to rely on. This is particularly the case when we are entering a situation where we have limited knowledge.

I know that a lot of people say that they don’t judge people by how they look but I’m afraid that I don’t agree. You can’t help but be influenced by images. I’m not saying it’s always right, I’m just saying that it happens. So when householders search for an installer, what influences them?

Certainly the price, you can only choose what you can afford and no one wants to pay over the odds. But I would go even further back and ask who do they choose to quote?

A personal recommendation is undoubtedly the strongest influence if there is one available. People used to look in the Yellow Pages and look at the listings. For most people these days the search is online. This means that for installers, an online presence is essential, but more than this, the presence must give potential customers the security that they are choosing a professional and reliable installer.

There are a growing number of listings sites where consumers can search for installers. They charge for participation but are an easy way of getting a presence. They usually allow customers to rate installers which other prospective customers find useful. However, online ratings have been the subject of some bad press as unscrupulous people have given bad ratings to their competitors and submitted falsely flattering ratings for themselves.

Of course, the vast majority of householders are unable to judge the quality of installers’ work. Most of us would have enormous difficulty in identifying the elements that would make a ‘good installation’, which is why ratings are mainly based on reliability, attitude and cleanliness.

Reliability is an area that is particularly sensitive to householders who may have to make specific arrangements to enable work to be carried out. It’s also an area in which it’s very difficult for smaller businesses to provide consistency.

On this issue, I would suggest that the majority of people would understand the difficulties associated with being exact on timings as long as there is early and clear communication that deadlines may have to be altered.

Lastly, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’.