New research into attitudes towards tradespeople has revealed that the public places more trust in hairdressers than many other trades. The research found that car salespeople are trusted least.

Undertaken by ICM on behalf of internet services provider Gradwell, the survey asked 2,000 members of the public to identify the tradespeople they trust most and least.

26 per cent named hairdressers as the most trusted, just ahead of driving instructors (18 per cent). 42 per cent trusted car salespeople least, ahead of builders & roofers (21 per cent).

When questioned about the influences on their perceptions of tradespeople, 71 per cent said they would be more likely to trust a tradesperson who had a dedicated business landline rather than a mobile phone. 51 per cent said they would place more trust in someone with a business email address rather than a ‘freemail’ email address.

The majority (63 per cent) also said they would be more likely to trust a member of a professional body or association, and more likely (61 per cent) to trust somebody who could provide a reference.

Commenting on the findings, occupational psychologist Dr Chris Lewis said:
Trust plays a major part in our decision to hire a tradesperson. Trust is a powerful and complex driver in ‘why’ and ‘who’ we choose. Scientists even believe that it has a chemical basis (the hormone ‘oxytocin’). The closer our contact or relationship is with someone, the more important trust becomes. Because we are in close physical contact with hairdressers and driving instructors for example, we pay special attention in their selection. Psychologically however, there are a number of factors that underpin why people trust other people in general.

The survey shows three fairly distinct ‘bands’ of things traders do that relate to trust. The highest relates to ‘potential for professional and other verification of service’ (professional membership and references), the next is ‘reliable contactability’ (dedicated landline and premises) and the third is ‘branding and advertising’ (vehicle, website and business email address). Allowing oneself to be accessible, traceable and contactable is however arguably the strongest of all these trust factors.

Ultimately, feeling good about a tradesperson is key for a customer. Having all the image gadgetry will not compensate for lack of skill and customers are aware of that. However, not having it will lessen trust and damage your business.

Peter Gradwell, managing director of Gradwell, added:
I’m not at all surprised that the public places more trust in those with a business phone number. Many small businesses recognise this; in fact we’ve seen a steady rise in the number of sole traders coming to us to help them set up their communications systems.

No matter what size a business is, it’s simple and inexpensive to create a professional image. By using an internet-based phone system for example, we can allow users to receive calls on their mobile phone despite the caller ringing a business landline. We can also easily create a business email address, avoiding the need to use freemail.


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