The Importance of Showing Customers an Image of Cleanliness

Customers will quickly make a judgment based solely on your appearance, no matter how capable you are

The Importance of Showing Customers an Image of Cleanliness

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Let’s think psychologically for a moment about the image of people and how we judge them.

Even though it is sad that we all judge people by their appearance, it is reality. You base your judgments on your personal history and the law of averages. You run into a banker, lawyer, or financial expert. Most of the time, they are dressed a certain way, talk a certain way, and act a certain way. You slowly evolve an opinion based on your personal experiences. You can easily sniff out if someone is a person to be taken seriously or a fake, slicked-back-hair wannabe.

That system doesn’t just apply to you personally; it applies to all aspects of society. And for our purposes, the only opinion that matters is the customer you are working for.

If you want to be a septic pumping or plumbing professional that people take seriously, you must be knowledgeable and take yourself seriously. Whether you believe it or not, customers can sense if you are trustworthy and knowledgeable within the first few seconds after you walk into their house. They might not know anything about pumping, plumbing or drain cleaning whatsoever, but they can get an accurate feel for who you are, where you're from, what kind of person you are, and how well of a job you will do.

Since customers are fearsome of a considerable expense, they will immediately try to justify the cost based on your physical presentation. If you show up squared away, a well-spoken, sharply dressed individual who speaks clearly and is personable, you have already eased their minds that they called the right place and got lucky to get the perfect person for the job.

However, show up wearing a wrinkled sweatshirt with PVC glue stains all over and ruined painter's pants, and the customer will immediately be more concerned with their purchase thus far. That could ultimately lead to arguments, price objections, screaming and complaining about your bill. You might be the most incredible plumber in the history of humankind and fix their problem for good. Still, if your appearance is one of a hobo, they will never be able to justify the high cost of doing business. In contrast, the clean-cut, well-spoken counterpart has an unbelievable and powerful advantage.

This includes every detail of your appearance, from how you groom yourself, how you dress, and the condition of your shoes to your tools, your van, your mannerisms, how you speak, and even how you go through your progression on a service call.


Your clothing should be a no-brainer, but how many of us can do better with our daily appearance?

If your company has uniforms, take pride in making sure you follow the company guidelines for the dress code. Iron your shirts, iron your pants, don’t let the sweat stains on your hat build up over time, make sure your clothes fit your body, carry extra clothing and uniforms with you in case you get dirty on a call, and invest in a pair of coveralls.

Vehicle and Tools

You feel more efficient when running calls when you keep a clean van, clean tools, and a clean front cab. It puts you in a more professional mood, keeps your head clear, and allows you to be a service machine during the day pumping through calls.

This also influences your presentation to a customer. They can tell that you have a sense of cleanliness and pride. Think of it from a customer’s standpoint: They have a significant issue, and a stranger is coming to their home. When the clean, polite, well-spoken professional pulls into their driveway in a clean and organized truck or van, it promotes a great image of you and your company. It earns entry-level trust from the homeowner that the call is starting tremendously and they called the right place.

On the other hand, if you show up in a dirty uniform, dirty boots and open your vehicle to unleash a mountain of muddy ditch pumps, uncoiled hoses and a giant ball of extension cords, the customer is already convincing themselves they have called the wrong place.

You also need to pay attention to how you get set up for a job. Say you’re unclogging a drain. Lay your tools out, and put them back. Instead of hurrying into the house and immediately running rods, you should get set up with good tarps and protect everything. You should also bring in an empty bucket and a few rags. Place the empty bucket beside your work area if you need to dispose of any foreign objects, soiled tools, or used latex gloves. Any hand tools should be stored in a tool bag or set on a rag nearby to protect the homeowner’s property.

When you finish the call, make sure you take a clean rag, clean off your tools and immediately put them back in their correct spot. The critical factor here is being a professional and staying organized during each call. The customer will notice, making your life dealing with customers a whole lot easier.

About the author: Anthony Pacilla is a registered master plumber for McVehil Plumbing in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has over two decades of experience in the plumbing and HVAC trades, and has a bachelor’s in business and economics from Thiel College.


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