In my last article (Your New Spring Promotion), I suggested that your spring 2009 promotion be a low-cost air conditioning “inspection,” as opposed to a “tune-up.”

Doing inspections versus tune-ups sets a more honest, upfront, and realistic level of expectation about the service you're there to perform. Most non-service agreement customers — especially first-time customers — know they've got problems. Their equipment runs, but not very well. The problems are usually caused by a build-up of dirt and biological growth. They know their system requires cleaning. That's why they called you.

When you're just there to do an inspection, customers don't expect anything to be done as part of the package. They anticipate your finding problems and informing them of what those problems are. They know there will be a charge to remedy them. The same doesn't hold true for tune-up customers, however. When you're performing a tune-up, you may come across issues that will require an additional charge. Suddenly, customers become suspicious. They say, “I would have thought that would have been part of the tune-up.”

Avoid this dilemma by performing inspections instead.

At the front door, once you get the initial introductions out of the way, say, “As a point of clarification, I'm here to do a $___ inspection on your air conditioning system. I'll be going over it with a fine-tooth comb, then I'll write you up a full report. If I find anything that requires attention, — and I'm not saying I will — I'll put the price on the report as well.”

So far, that little speech has netted me 100% positive reception.

Don't Blow It

Be sure that inspection includes the blower-wheel. Two out of three of my service calls — inspections, tune-ups, or breakdowns — include a blower wheel pull-and-clean. If your technicians aren't doing a blower pull-and-clean on at least two out of three calls they run on non-service agreement customers, they're not being thorough, are doing your customers a major disservice, and are losing major profit producing opportunities.

When I see a blower wheel that needs cleaning, I pull it out, set it next to the equipment, and continue with the rest of my inspection.

When I pull the blower out and they can get a good look at it (and usually smell it), money becomes less of an issue; they're going to want me to clean it. Once you pull the blower, on most units you'll be able to get a good look at the evaporator coil. As a rule, whatever gunk is on the blower wheel is also on the indoor coil, and it has to come off.

Dirty indoor coils cause premature compressor failure, premature heat exchanger failure, health issues, and shorten the life of every component in the furnace. They also cause comfort problems and overpayment on utility bills. But why stop with the blower and coil? As a rule, I get an average of about $900 to $1,000 to thoroughly clean the entire system and put a customer on a service agreement.

When customers are dejected about having to spend all that money, I say, “Before I start, we need to have an understanding. The same conditions that caused this expense are still in place. That means I'll have to do this again in a few years. If there were a way that you could prevent this from occurring in the first place, have cleaner, fresher air, reduce your maintenance expenses in the future, and make your air conditioner and furnace last longer, would you want to know more about it?” That's when I talk to them about UV lights and filtration.

Be a Radical

Be a radical about never leaving equipment dirty. Give every customer the option of taking better care of their equipment. When you look at the profit potential, you'll see why: one tech has the potential of generating a good $180,000 in net profit per year (Figure 1). In my example, I anticipate a 20% net profit. When you do this much work per call, your non-billable time drops dramatically, your efficiency skyrockets, and your customers are much happier. Next month, I'll show you how you quote the work and close on this type of call.

Charlie Greer is the HVAC Consultant of the Year, and the creator of “Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD” and “Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD.” The spring, 2009 dates are set for “Charlie Greer's 4-Day Sales Survival Schools,” with separate classes for HVAC technicians and salespeople (see p. 8). To talk to Charlie, order a free catalog, or check his training schedule, call 800.963.HVAC (4822), or visit hvacprofitboosters.com. Email Charlie at charlie@charliegreer.com.

Figure 1. Profit Potential from Blower Cleaning, Coil Cleaning, UV Lights & Filters.

600 calls per year

400 blower pull-and-cleans (2 out of 3 calls) @ $125 = $50,000

400 indoor coil cleanings (2 out of 3 calls) @ $400 = $160,000

600 UV lights @ $900 = $540,000

300 filtration upgrades @ $500 = $150,000

Total Gross Sales = $900,000

Net Profit @ 20% = $180,000