I want to tell you a story, a true story, and one that
happens way too often.
One fine day, a service contractor, much like yourself, was
doing a service call for a very fine new customer. Now, this
customer was kind of elderly and looked like he had lived
one rough and tumble life.
So, this service contractor is in the process of running a
wire from the customerís house out to what looked like an
old shed of some sort. On closer inspection, it was actually
a very well built, very tight, and very snazzy shed. And in
this shed, the contractor sees some mighty fine American
Steel: a Ď67 Mustang, a Ď68 Camaro, and a few other muscle
cars all looking good for their age. But what really catches
this contractorís eye is a motorcycle, a Harley Davidson.
And it is old; older than the 60s. Maybe itís even a bike
from the 50s.
I happen to think that the best opportunities come
from focusing your marketing on neighborhoods, street names,
and certain areas where your company has a history of doing
As it turns out, it was a 1956 Harley Davidson KH. A pretty
rare breed. This contractor knew that Elvis Presley had
owned one of these babies, and this had to be worth a pretty
penny. But what he really liked about it was that it was
just plain cool.
Whatís a contractor to do? He finished up the work for his
new customer, and when it came time to settle up, he asked
about the motorcycle. The man said that he was no longer
able to ride a motorcycle, and although he hated to part
with anything in his collection, he had been thinking of
letting someone else enjoy owning this great bike. So, if
the young man had his heart so set on it, he said he would
sell it. He did say it would not be cheap, but it would be
Something like a Harley KH, but not quite.
The contractor was thrilled and agreed to come back within
the week with the money.
The next day, he met with his banker and asked for a loan of
a few thousand dollars so he would have enough for the bike.
His banker asked a lot of questions like bankers do. You
know, like, ďWhat are you buying? What is it worth? What
will you do with it? Where are you getting it? Who are you
buying it from?Ē
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Our fine and
honest contractor answered all of the questions with no
hesitation because he had good credit and had always
paid his loans off early. He was sure he would get the
The banker of course would have to talk to the loan
committee. ďJust a formality, you understand; Iím sure
they will be happy to loan you the money, so give me a
day or so and weíll wrap this up.Ē
Our friend went on his merry way and got busy doing his
work. After two days, he hadnít heard from his banker
friend, so he called him up. ďJust a snag or two,Ē said
the banker, assuring him that it would all be cleared up
in the next day or two. This went on for almost 2 weeks
with no good news coming from his banker. He decided to
borrow the money from friends, and so he gathered up the
money and went to see the man with the motorcycle,
hoping he would still be willing to sell the bike.
Imagine his disappointment when he found that the bike
had been sold. Upon questioning his customer, he found
that the customer thought he had changed his mind since
he didnít return within the week, and as luck would have
it, another buyer came along and offered a few hundred
dollars more, so he sold it.
This is a sad story, isnít it?
I have to ask 2 questions; letís see if you caught this.
1. Who bought the bike?
You guessed right. The banker bought the bike.
Now after hearing that terrible story of deceit,
treachery, and wickedness, I have to ask the second
2. What business is the banker in?
The banker is in the business of making money. And this
particular banker has no moral problem letting his
depositors do his work for him. Makes you want to go
back and think about all those questions your banker
asked you when showed up for a loan, doesnít it?
Iím not here to dump on bankers, so donít get me wrong.
What Iím saying is that you can find business
opportunities you hadnít even considered if you listen
and pay attention.
I happen to think that the best opportunities come from
focusing your marketing on neighborhoods, street names,
and certain areas where your company has a history of
doing well. Pick a few new neighborhoods or areas each
year that you havenít done much work in, and determine
if you might be missing some great opportunities.
When your phone rings, think like a realtor: location,
location, location. Decide where you want to work and
watch for those calls. Do your guerilla marketing in
those specific neighborhoods. Get some of that business
and see what happens.
When we focus only on getting something fixed for our
customer as fast as possible so we can get to the next
call, are we overlooking the 1956 Harley Davidsons? Are
we missing the real opportunities?
So, here is the moment of opportunity, the moment for
you to think. A. What business am I in? and B. What
opportunities am I walking past?
What expertise are you sitting on that someone would
Iím not asking you to become an ďAmerican Picker.Ē Iím
saying that maybe the customers that call you, you know,
your typical everyday customers that you can depend on
calling you when they need help, well whatís sitting in
their garage metaphorically? What else would they buy if
you just offered it to them?
I mentioned to one of our customers that I spray-foamed
my shop and my home for energy savings. A few months
later, he called and asked me to help with his new home.
He was so intrigued with my spray foam comments that he
wanted my opinion and only my opinion on every aspect of
his new homeís energy status. That was worth almost
$60,000 in business for me, and most of it was outside
the normal HVAC work.
What expertise are you sitting on that someone would pay
for? I mentioned to another customer one time that her
roof was leaking from a tree branch that fell on it. She
paid me to have her roof repaired even though I wasnít
in that business. I ended up getting it done, and she
So, if you are in a seasonal business, one like heating
and air conditioning, think about what other talents and
skills you could contract out in your neighborhoods. You
are more than you think you are, and itís time to let
some of the great opportunities find you.
(706) 581-0622, anytime
Pricing enthusiast Rodney Koop is the founder and CEO
of The New Flat Rate, a home service menu-selling system
designed to put profit directly into the hands of
plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors.