Maximize Your Company's Customer Relationships: Coffee Break With Tom Degnan, Leviton Manufacturing Co.

Every electrical contractor will tell you their business is relationship-based. They owe their success to strong customer relationships. We agree. We also think most ECs could get much more out these relationships.

We tested that proposition with Tom Degnan, contractor channel manager at Leviton Manufacturing. Degnan dedicates his time to multiple marketing initiatives at Leviton, all with the common goal of benefiting ECs in their pursuit of new business opportunities. He is known across the United States for his fast-paced presentation style in live seminars on wide-ranging topics aimed at helping contractors continually up their game.

His career in the industry has granted him a global perspective developed over many years in his travels from coast to coast. We knew we could count on him for some great insights.

Typical size ECs are in the enviable position of being able to engage everyone in their company—yes, every person, not just those who normally interface with customers—in an active role in customer relations.

And they can! For example, there’s no telling when an incoming phone call might land on the wrong desk in the office or when a customer might pose a question to the most junior—and unprepared—person on a job site. Everyone has to be ready for that. Everyone is busy and focused on getting their job done, and sometimes, we get caught off-guard and lose sight of the most important part of our business—the customer. No matter how busy anyone on the team is, they must take the time to listen and ensure customer satisfaction. It’s as simple as listening and letting them know you are there to help. If they hang up knowing and trusting you are going to take care of them, you have initiated a positive customer experience before the service call has even taken place.

That said, shouldn’t service-oriented ECs adopt a “scorekeeping” system to track the many performance measurements that differentiate service work from construction projects?

There are metrics that are more important to the future of the business than traditional financial figures. What are the key statistics about customer base growth (net of pluses and minuses)? How are customer satisfaction ratings trending? Do you know what percentage of referral business you’re winning? Or repeat business?

Service electricians are out in the field, on customers’ premises, on the front lines every day. They’re in a great position to seize on opportunities for additional work.

The days of going on a service call and not offering advice are over. Today, customers are more connected than ever before. Often, when they have a chance to interact with an electrical installer, they have prepared questions. They view that electrician as a consultant. They are receptive to input on how to make their home or business current with all of today’s available techie and convenience products. So as a contractor, you must ask yourself, are you and your team leveraging this to position your company as a resource for customers? Once you do, incremental sales and profits will follow, and on the heels of that will come referrals to friends or relatives that are doing work on their homes.

In other industries, corporate executives often adjust their business strategy based on field intelligence that reveals changing trends. But contractors aren’t always quick to do that or embrace the latest technologies and electrical products.

But today’s consumer does! Young people today can’t take their eyes off their smartphone or electronic device. These are your future customers who will have no problem spending big money to enhance their tech and convenience lifestyle. The good news is technology can often make your job easier. Things as simple as programming electrical apparatus through an app enable you to work faster and with better results. Luckily, electrical contractors can easily reach out to manufacturers’ and distributors’ personnel for guidance. Often, just a few minor adjustments to the way you do business can pay off handsomely in profitable new growth.

About the Author

Andrew McCoy

Service and Maintenance Contributor

Andrew McCoy is the Preston and Catharine White Fellow and Department Head of the Department of Building Construction in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. Contact him at

About the Author

Fred Sargent

Service and Maintenance Contributor

Fred Sargent is an electrical industry consultant focusing on service expertise. He can be reached at

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