Survey: Contractors Must Battle Consumer Perceptions of Failure

by WOHe

Survey: Contractors Must Battle Consumer Perceptions of

Park Ridge, IL Remodeling contractors, among those businesses
being affected by the current economic slowdown, must be very
careful not to cause themselves additional damage by allowing
customers to perceive that their company is experiencing financial
difficulties, according to a survey by a leading building industry
consulting firm.

The recently-concluded survey, conducted by the Park Ridge,
IL-based George S. May International Company, reveals that medium-
and small-sized business owners believe that contractors are among
those businesses being damaged in the softer economic climate. A
clear majority, however, feel the downturn will be short-lived.

“This survey highlights the danger of a perception growing into
a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Donald Fletcher, president of the
George S. May.

“Customers respect and prefer working with business people,
including contractors, who are successful,” Fletcher said. “While
they may feel sorry for a business that is having hard times, it is
dangerous (for that business) to show its difficulties. If it does,
customers will begin taking business elsewhere.

“This reaction is part human nature and part business nature,”
Fletcher observed, “and it is very difficult to turn that
impression around once it is made.”

According to Fletcher, the importance of presenting a successful
impression to the customer was confirmed by the fact that positive,
growth-oriented actions were selected by 59% of survey respondents
as their response to the lagging economy. These activities included
increasing sales and marketing efforts, retaining or increasing
current employee benefits, adding employees and increasing
inventory, Fletcher said.

In contrast, only 41% of the survey’s respondents said they are
taking actions to reduce their business activities.

“Customers have expectations,” Fletcher noted. “If these are not
met, customers will sense something is wrong and go elsewhere.
They’ll forgive an occasional lapse, but if it becomes a general
trend, they’ll start to shop elsewhere.

“(And) if they try and like the other operation, the first
company is in serious danger of losing that customer.”

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