The secret of my success: tips from a Lowe’s preferred provider
Mega Plumbing is a large residential and commercial plumbing contractor in Virginia, where 85% to 90% of its business comes from Lowe’s. The company was recently named the sole appliance installer for all 9 districts in its region, totaling 113 stores. We sat down with office manager Scott Kang and asked for his tips on becoming a preferred provider. Here’s what he had to say.
1. Build strong relationships at all levels
One of the things that Kang most credits with Mega Plumbing’s success is relationships. Over the years, he and his team have invested a lot of time and effort into building strong relationships, from the store level to the district level.
“We visit the stores regularly to make sure we have good feedback and fix negative feedback right away,” said Kang. “We make sure our technicians have good relationships with the stores. Our reputation built up.”
Word about Mega Plumbing’s strong reputation reached the region level, which ultimately led to the company earning additional work. Now, as a preferred provider, Kang continues to emphasize the importance of relationships.
“When we start working with a new district, the first thing we do is meet with the district manager. We let them know what they can expect from our company and ask about their expectations,” he said.
2. Make things easy for the store personnel
The Lowe’s store personnel are closest to the customer and the more you can do to make things easier for them, the more you become an integral part of their team, suggests Kang.
You don’t want to let the customer down and create more work for the Lowe’s team. That means “following up with customers on time and dealing with work orders right away.” As described above, it’s also about building relationships and being a go-to resource for store personnel.
3. Team with quality subcontractors
In many cases, the workload for Lowe’s preferred contractors will be more than they can take on with their current organization. Many will look to share some of the work with other contractors.
Kang suggests working with district managers and even with local store managers to find out which contractors have worked well with them. With that feedback, you can reach out to those contractors to find out if they’re interested in teaming up.
This is how Mega Plumbing partnered with other area contractors who now are part of the extended team, serving 113 stores throughout Virginia.
4. Automate your office
As your business grows, the things that currently take up too much of your time will only take up more of your time. For Kang, one of those things was manually entering order information from Lowe’s IMS into his project automation software and back into IMS. As the business grew, it became more and more cumbersome for his staff to manage and update both systems.
He eventually switched to Cilio’s Customer Installations Online (CiO) installer software because it integrates with Lowe’s IMS. Because they now have only one system to update, this saves his team many hours of time that they used to spend on data entry.
He also appreciates that CiO automates customer interactions through text and email. This led to a significant reduction in the time his team spends making calls to schedule appointments and issue appointment reminders. Additionally, it allows him to interact with them in a way they increasingly prefer – digitally. Customers are happier because they have insight and alerts about their projects from beginning to end.
How can we help?
Cilio is committed to helping installation contractors navigate the growing trend for home improvement retailers to consolidate installer networks. We’re here to help prime contractors identify and locate subcontractors in their areas –we can connect you with CiO clients in your area or leverage our Lowe’s relationships to help. For those of you who are losing your direct connection to Lowe’s, we may be able to help you connect to larger preferred installers in your area or identify other new sources of business. Whatever your situation is, give us a call and we’ll do our best to help!