Service Companies Can’t Survive Without This

December 7, 2021 | blog | By Julie Ondrusek

There’s an old adage in comedy that if you have to tell people you’re funny, you’re probably not. In marketing, the adage is about trust. If you have to tell me to trust you, I probably don’t. That can be a real problem for services companies trying to compete post-pandemic. Not for some of them. For all of them. Whether we’re talking about pest control, glass repair, doing taxes or giving massages, consumers’ relationships with services companies are inextricably linked to how much they trust them and building trust takes time. Unfortunately, for most services companies, and especially those in a challenger brand position fighting the category leaders, time is a luxury they simply don’t have.

Every Relationship Starts Here.

Split services companies into those that are successful and those that are unsuccessful, and one commonality is likely to be present: successful services companies think of their customers as relationships. Unsuccessful services companies see their customers as transactions. Relationships built on trust are lasting and often weather less than perfect conditions. Transactions are fleeting, with limited loyalty and built on whim. Which would you rather be?

In his book, “Becoming A Category Of One,” author Joe Calloway describes the difference this way: “your brand is what people think it’s like to do business with you.” What is it like to do business with you? Think for a second about your personal relationships. What is it that makes some of them last and grow stronger, while others either never quite take, or simply wither away? Every answer is grounded in trust. Whether you’re building a relationship with a friend, or a brand, the questions are the same:

  • Are you who you say you are?
  • Will you keep the promises you make?
  • Are you consistent and honest?
  • Are you helpful and authentic?
  • Do you do what is right and admit your mistakes?

For services companies – for challenger brands – lasting success starts with building relationships and that action is predicated on trust.

The Clock Is Ticking

As we mentioned above, building relationships takes consistency over time. But what if you’re a brand that simply can’t wait years to foster trust? As of this summer, a Harvard Economic Tracker showed there were “37.5% fewer small businesses open nationwide compared with January 2020, two months before the pandemic hit the United States.” Time is clearly of the essence. Fortunately, there is something services companies can do to speed up the process and strengthen the traction they need from their customers.

Whether you’re selling your services online or working out of a brick-and-mortar storefront, your future success, and the trust you’re able to build with your customers, depends on the company culture you’re building now.

Culture Is The Lasting Accelerator.

How you show up with your staff and your customers matters. The way you do business matters. The company culture you build and foster matters. Like trust, building a company culture takes time. But by starting with the right foundational pillars in mind, you can accelerate the process and build a stronger organization and brand as you go.

For services companies in any field, there are seven fundamental elements required to build a great company culture: safety, vulnerability, purpose, belonging, creativity, connection, and North Star leadership. Admittedly, building a culture on those seven elements is somewhat inward facing. But when you look at how those same seven elements affect your customers and their perception of your brand, it’s not hard to understand the unmistakable way they influence whether you’re building trust or losing it.


When we started LOOMIS 37 years ago, one of our first clients was a local carpet cleaning company. Years later, we had the pleasure of working with the country’s leading carpet cleaner. And while you might assume the quality of the service was top of mind for people who called to have their carpet cleaned, it wasn’t. It was safety.

When customers hire a services company, they don’t want to worry about who they are inviting into their home. Our national brand carpet cleaner background checked, drug-tested, and trained all of their employees. The local company didn’t. On the day of the job, the techs for the national carpet cleaner showed up in branded shirts and branded vans. The local operation subcontracted the work to anyone with a cleaning machine and a van.

For services companies, safety is a crucial cue both for employees and for customers. If you can’t make potential customers feel safe, how in the world will they ever be able to trust you?


To your employees, vulnerability takes the shape of leaders who will listen. It looks like managers who admit they don’t know everything and value the opinions of those working under them. Internally, vulnerability means admitting when you make a mistake and working to make good on the hurt that mistake may have caused. For your customers, the same things are true. Being vulnerable enough to admit a mistake or apologize for a wrong sends a message that “we’re all in this together.” When brands set their power aside and do the right thing, even when it’s hard, or embarrassing, or costly, that action cements the trust people have in them.


Simon Sinek said it best. “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” It’s really as simple as that. Successful glass replacement services companies don’t replace windshields. They make sure you can see the world more clearly. Successful pet services companies don’t sell dog food, cat treats, and birdseed. They give you healthier, happier years with your loyal companions. Employees want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and so do your customers. Give them something to believe in and you give them something they’ll want to trust.


From marketing’s earliest days, and for services companies in particular, word of mouth advertising has been the Holy Grail brands have been chasing. Friend to friend endorsement trades on the built-in trust that exists between people in close relationships and inherent to that interaction is a sense of belonging. A desire to be in the know and to share the things, the brands, the discoveries we’ve found with those we’re closest to. The unlocking move for services companies is making yourself one of those brands that delivers an experience so good people can’t wait to share it. Be true to your word. Underpromise and overdeliver. Think through how to be meaningful at every step of the customer journey. In a world where thousands of brands consistently falter on these basics, the brands that deliver them day in and day out are the ones that stand out and get ahead.


Today’s consumers don’t just WANT brands to interact with them where they want them to be. They expect it in everything from fitness and health care to restaurants and packaged goods to home and personal services. Being where consumers want you to be isn’t easy for every brand. But it’s where creativity can be a game changer.

Almost more than any other category, advertising for services companies often looks and feels extremely similar. The result for consumers is a “sea of sameness” where all the service explanations and brand promises run together to the extent no one brand stands out from another.

Creativity changes that. To trust you, people have to like you. Tell them a story. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Whatever you do, give them something emotional and interesting and creative to connect with.


There are two ways services companies can connect with people. There is the emotional – “I like and feel connected to the brand” – kind of connection. And there’s the physical – “I’m trying to connect with someone” – kind of connection. The first is important. The second is critical. Recently, one of my colleagues was on her way to work when a flying rock left a baseball-sized crack in her windshield. Remembering the jingle of a glass repair service she’d heard so many times she couldn’t forget it, she called to see if they could help her. She was greeted by a recorded voice and a long list of options to sift through. After way too long stuck in the phone tree, another prerecorded voice directed her to the company website to begin the estimate process.

Remember the Calloway quote from earlier? “Your brand is what people think it’s like to do business with you.” What does it say if you can’t be bothered to pick up the phone, or return a call to someone wanting to hand you their business? Connection is personal.


Building and maintaining an exemplary culture starts at the top. That’s the difference between leaders and managers. How you treat your employees informs the way they will treat your customers. Services companies are, by definition, committed to service and yet many are sorely lacking when it comes to taking care of their customers. There are plenty of reasons why that might be the case. But if you’re looking for the true culprit, an internal culture that’s lacking is a good place to start. Here’s a quick quiz to gauge where you are:

  • Do the people on your front lines make your customers feel safer?
  • Do you listen first, admit your mistakes, and make things right when you should?
  • Are you giving your customers something important to believe in?
  • Is your brand one people are clamoring to be a part of and share with other people?
  • Are you creative with your communication, your brand delivery, and your advertising?
  • Do you make it easy for your customers to connect with a real person?
  • Are you as a leader fully committed to doing, creating, and spending what’s necessary to build trust between your brand and your customer?

It’s All About Trust.

Building customer trust is a process. But if you work that process thoughtfully and intentionally with a great company culture at the foundation, it’s a process that will set your brand apart from your competitors and not just in the short term. Great brands are built like great relationships.

  • The more time we spend together, the better I know you.
  • The better I know you, the more I like you.
  • And the more I like you, the more I trust you.
  • The more I trust you, the more I love you.
  • The more I love you, the more I want to introduce you to everyone I know.

And that starts the cycle all over again.

JULIE ONDRUSEK is COO and Director of Client Service at  LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

For more about LOOMIS, or to discuss how we can help your company succeed, CLICK HERE

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Julie Ondrusek

at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.