A few weeks ago I saw a TV program about a rather unusual Sydney plumber.
At just 26 years of age his company was billing over $200,000 a week for plumbing jobs.
By my calculations that’s over 10 million a year!
That’s not the unusual part — although I’m sure it’ll capture the attention of any plumbers reading this who are stuck making 100K a year and want to get to the 1 million or 10 million mark.
My advice: don’t do what this guy does.
First, he manipulates consumers by operating under multiple company names, essentially competing against himself for customer leads.
In other words, you go to Google (the great manipulator of consumers all over the world – more on this some other time) and type in “local plumber”. You get a page full of search results. The top 3 results are ads, all run by this Sydney plumber but under different business names. You get a quote from 2 of them, not realising it’s the same business.
Although this is not technically illegal, it can be used to manipulate people.
Next, you accept one of the quotes.
Then, the plumber turns up at your house to do the job.
And here’s where it gets interesting.
Unbeknownst to you, you’re being MASSIVELY overcharged.
For example, one customer had a leaking pipe. She was quoted $15,000 to fix it. Thinking the problem was much bigger than it was she agreed. And a plumber came to do the job.
On inspection the plumber – a new employee at this plumbing company – noted the problem was a simple leak, and only required a quick fix for about $200.
So what did he do?
He rang the 26 year old boss who told him to …
SMASH THE PIPE. TAKE OUT YOUR HAMMER AND SMASH THE PIPE.
“What? Are you kidding me?” said the new employee.
“No” said the business owner. “I quoted this lady $15,000 and she agreed … so SMASH THE PIPE.”
And then he reported it. And that’s why the story ended up on TV.
Do you see the problem here?
I’m not referring to the obvious problem of a con artist at work.
I’m talking about the fact that many of our important buying decisions today are based on something we know very little about.
For example, do you ever get the feeling your mechanic is charging you for things that don’t need to be fixed?
Or your doctor is prescribing drugs you don’t need to take?
Or your bank is charging you fees for services you either don’t need or didn’t ask for?
This happens a lot — probably to the tune of millions of dollars in unneeded repairs, prescriptions and charges every day.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s the point:
Although there’s not a lot we can do about dodgy plumbers … mechanics … doctors … or bankers ….
… there is something we can do to make the world a better place.
We can wake up to the fact that people are getting more and more skeptical every day (I know I am).
And we can make our marketing and business practices more transparent.
Start by telling your clients exactly what you’re going to do for them and why.
And don’t just tell them.
All in the name of being transparent.
Thus the heading on today’s post: The rise of the transparent entrepreneur.
Do this right and you’ll stand out like a camel on the sidewalk.
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