The Tricky Business of Building Homeowner Trust

Follow these easy suggestions as a way to keep those residential customers calling you for work

The Tricky Business of Building Homeowner Trust

Anja Smith 

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Septic services professionals, like plumbers, are often in the business of delivering bad — and expensive — news to homeowners. These conversations can be difficult for even the most experienced technician. 

Without building trust first, the customer’s lack of confidence will soon be your lack of revenue. Residential service customers are expensive to obtain. On top of that, they tend to lack loyalty.

Before the end of your first appointment, the homeowner will have labeled you a charlatan or a savior. They will have already decided if you’ll ever step on their property ever again. In spite of these headaches, residential service can be extremely profitable. 

You have a small window to create trust. It’s difficult to build and easy to break. Make your life easier by taking these steps to earn and keep faith with your customers.


There are many ways to influence customer perception through branding. Here are a few things to consider:

Color use. Did you know that blue makes people feel safe and secure, while red evokes passion and sometimes anger? 

Professional design. A professional logo, vehicle wrap and website make you look, well, professional. 

Your story. Is your business family-owned and -operated? A franchise with the strength of nationwide resources? Each of these stories generates trust differently.


If online reviews aren’t your priority, they should be. Social proof is a big deal these days. One BrightLocal study claims that 90% of consumers research businesses online before they buy. 

With good online reviews, trust is yours to lose. 

Appointment setting

Create an appointment-setting experience that sets clear expectations. Before customers get off the phone with your team, they should:

  • Have an opportunity to describe their problem. Your team should ask appropriate follow-up questions.
  • Know what day and time to expect you, including any details about appointment windows.
  • Know the name of who is coming to their house.
  • Be aware of any diagnostic or appointment fees.

Uniform and personal appearance

First impressions do matter. They matter even more when you are a stranger in someone's home. Make an effort.

A confident smile, handshake and introduction don’t hurt either.

Customer education and clear diagnostics

An overeager tradesman taking advantage is a common fear for homeowners. That’s for a good reason. Most homeowners have a very vague understanding of how their plumbing and septic systems work. 

Too often, the reported problem is just the tip of the iceberg. An excellent service technician understands the customer’s anxiety and uncertainty. Rather than preying on that, a good technician wants to help ease customers’ fears.

Explaining the situation helps empower customers. It allows them to make the right decision for their home and budget. Never lead with worst-case scenarios. They leave the customer feeling like you are using scare tactics to push them into a decision.

Whenever possible, use diagnostic methods that allow you to show the problem to the customer. Asking for a customer to trust your experience is one thing. Showing them the problem so they can see it with their own eyes is another. 

Customer options

Upselling is all about persuading the customer to purchase a more expensive or premium version of an item for the simple purpose of increasing a sale. 

In and of itself, there is nothing immoral or wrong about this tactic. Where it goes wrong is when technicians use scare tactics or high-pressure tactics to push a customer into the sale. 

Here’s the kicker — an excellent customer care conversation includes an upsell option. That’s because customers deserve the opportunity to make their own decisions. Don’t always assume you know best.

It’s their money, and it’s their home. Options are a powerful tool in building trust. Just wield that power carefully.

There is no foolproof way to build trust with every residential customer. Please don’t underestimate the effect that it can have on your bottom line though. A residential customer who thinks of you as “their septic company” will not only become a repeat client, but will rave about you to their friends.

About the Author
Anja Smith is managing partner for All Clear Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina. She can be reached at


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