Every Company Can Add Value

Kevin Marois

We are all trying to get and keep customers. But often we make decisions based on what we want, or what is easy for us. For instance, some people base their hours on their own convenience, rather than their customers’ needs.

The decisions you make about how you run your company need to be grounded first of all in what customers need and want. Then you move to how to make it happen in a rational way for productivity. The first step is figuring out what your customers want.

Let me tell you about some of the things we do at Integrity Mechanical as an example. Use it as inspiration to better meet customer needs. Note: If you are looking for something convenient or easy, you can stop reading right now.

Integrity Mechanical employees in uniform at their 20th Anniversary celebration.


Our staff all wear uniforms – either a shirt or coveralls with our logo on it. People know who they are and they look professional. When we go to a supplier we are treated with respect.

We were working in a large hotel recently. We had started early – before the loading dock/security was open. I apologized later in the day because we hadn’t signed in. The security fellow said, “You guys are in uniforms, you must belong here. Don’t worry about it.”

The guys all have club jackets with our logo, too. I may be wrong but I think it gives them a sense of pride to be part of our team.


Most of our customers do not understand their own machinery and how the parts work together. We often send before-and-after photos with the invoice. Photos may be from inside the machine, or even underneath, places where it isn’t convenient for the customer to look. It take us extra time, but it helps the customer to understand why we had to do that repair.

Some of our customers take photos of a garment before and after cleaning. Or they may take photos of pre-existing conditions. It is much easier to text a photo to a customer before you clean a garment than to argue later about where the stain came from.

Old Parts

We show our customers the old part and explain what went wrong. Then we ask if they want to keep the part. If they don’t, we are glad to haul it away. We have a scrap metal bin at the office.

Used — but not useless — detergent pail on its way to recycling.

Sometimes we go into a plant that we have not serviced before. There is often pile of scrap on the floor beside the boiler made up of old gaskets, pumps and broken parts. “The last repair guy didn’t throw it out so we’re not sure if it is good or not,” they say. We’ll haul it away even if it isn’t our mess, because it makes it easier to service the next time we come.

Detergent Pails

Every plant has them – piled up behind the washers and in the corners. In Calgary, we pick them up and send them for recycling. They are a better grade of plastic so they are valued for recycling. It’s an added step for us, but it’s good for everybody.

Staff Training

Do you do staff training? We have a monthly training session. Yes, it is difficult to organize and there is a cost involved. But we want our technicians to be the best in the industry. We want them to be skilled and confident.

In-house training at Integrity Mechanical.

In our training program, they have homework and exams. We sometimes bring in outside trainers to cover specific machines or topics. We have done steam calculations and worked with electrical formulas. Our customers depend on us for advice, so we have to know what we are doing. Do your customers sense that you have that kind of knowledge when it comes to their cleaning?

Customer Training Sessions

Every September we hold our Seminars for Success training weekend. It is a lot of work and expense but we feel it is worth it. We have to do anything we can to help our customers survive. We have lost a lot of plants over the last few years. We can’t afford to lose any more.

Seminars for Success crowd listens to Chris White of Kreussler.

Our business cannot succeed if our customers don’t succeed, so maybe this is somewhat self-serving. We also want to give our customers every advantage we can to help them.

Have you ever thought about training your customers? Do you ever hold open houses when you show them what it takes to get their garments and other items from dirty to pristine again? Do you put together materials you can hang on orders that show them all those steps? That’s training your customers to know you are expert enough to handle their needs.

Sweep Up

Many of the trades drop garbage all over the plant. Screws, wires, old parts. They just seem to drop them wherever they are and walk away. Our guys have strict instructions to clean up when they are done.

When we first started our business I had a discussion with a customer about cleaning up after doing a boiler inspection. I suggested that his counter girl was paid one-fourth of what I was billing, and asked if he wanted her to sweep up when I was done. He said no. I made the mess, so I needed to clean it up.

We have done that ever since. It costs you a little more to have us sweep up, but no one ever complains. We won’t sweep out your whole boiler room, but we will clean up any mess that we have made.

How can you go the extra mile for your customers? Do you wash the courtesy bags that they bring their garments in, so they are as clean as the clothes that are returning on hangers? Think of other ideas.


A lot of customers look to us for information. We may or may not have the info you are looking for, but if we don’t have an answer, we have a network of experts that we can turn to who will. The questions we get may not have anything to do with equipment, but we see a lot of things in various plants and in studying the industry, and can often help direct you to the answer you need. It takes time and it doesn’t produce income, but if we can help you succeed then we all win.

Just do it

There is a cost involved in all of these things. But by doing them, we can make things easier for our customers. We exist to solve problems – not to do what is easy. When you apply the concept to your business, you will do a little more work, but you may end up with customers for life.

Add a Comment

Before you go...

Give us your email and we will notify you
each week when we post fresh content.
We don't want you to miss a thing!