Targeting Business Pet Peeves

By Beacon Staff

Who hasn’t either had a plumber hanging out of their sink, or heard about one? You know the stereotype.

Some guy’s rear end is hanging out from under your sink, his pants are not quite the right size, and “too much information” is pointed right at you.

It’s like looking at a car accident on Highway 93. You know you shouldn’t look. You don’t want to see that. But, something deep inside you fires off a nerve or two and you look down at the sink anyway. My eyes, my eyes!

That’s probably one of the most commonly-known consumer pet peeves with the plumbing business.

In your business, no matter what you do or sell, people have pet peeves with your business.

If you’re a builder, the common ones from an impromptu survey I did last week are: poor communication, workmanship problems, inability to “control” sub-contractors, budget management, deadline problems, and cheap materials that weren’t what was spec’d out when the home was designed.

Note: If you’re a builder, you may not do these things, but I’ll bet you know some builders in your market that do have these problems. Likewise for the plumbers.

In every single market, there is a common list of pet peeves that consumers have about your business.

We’ve all had that lovely waste of time the “our service person will be there between noon and 7pm.” That’s what many businesses call a service appointment. I call it a waste of my precious time.

What pet peeves do your clients have about your business, or businesses in your market?

Not sure? Ask your clients. Ask friends what ticks them off or annoys them about doing business with businesses like yours. Once you have a list, take steps to eliminate them and put processes in place to prevent their return.

Then take it a step further. Make note of the contrast between you and your competition as it relates to these pet peeves.

For example: “Our service appointments don’t last all afternoon. We’ll be there when we say we will, or we’ll give you $50 and buy you dinner.”

If you don’t feel confident enough to buy dinner and hand out $50 bills quite yet, then put systems in place to try and repair the damage. On the other hand, that dinner and $50 bill thing might be enough motivation to put a system in place and stick by it.

If you know you don’t do the pet peeve things that other vendors in your market are still doing, make a point of it in your advertising.

One local firm does this in their TV ads. You see them stopping at the door to put on little hospital booties over their boots, while the lady of the house watches. It sends a message: We aren’t the guys who stomp mud and snow into your home.

There are plenty more of these kinds of things to do to widen the gap between you and a competitor, and best of all, that pet peeves list is the first place to look.

If you won’t or are too nervous to ask your customers, simply ask your friends. They’ll tell you what annoys the crud out of them about people who do what you do.

They might even make a point of noting something that you do (or someone else in your market does) – something they appreciate that you hadn’t really thought was a big deal.

For example, I know of a company in a certain part of the home repair market that will not allow their staff to enter a home if there are unattended children there.

Some people might not think anything of it, but some will quietly appreciate that little rule, and often for reasons that they don’t want to talk about. The back office reason for that might have started off as insurance, avoiding liability, an issue with an individual employee or other legalities, or paranoia, or just protecting their staff in the 21st century legal environment.

Regardless of the reason, it stands out among their competitors and these are easy things to implement.

Being the only plumber in town who isn’t putting on a show will make an impact. Try overalls.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at

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