Presenting the Price on Service Calls
Using the Standardized Price Manual and Getting the Service Agreement
By Charlie Greer
At this point, I've run my complete diagnostic and inspection, created a Paper Towel Close and set up to do the work by carrying in most, if not all, the necessary tools, parts and other things I'll need in order to complete the job. I've set my standardized price book and my clipboard, with the PTC clearly visible and a service invoice directly underneath it, in a convenient spot near my work station, which is usually near the equipment I'm going to work on.
Now, I'm going to get the repair(s) and a service agreement. I'm also looking for a "thank you." Here's how I close the sale.
To set the stage, this will be an example of a "no cool" call. I'll say that the equipment is dirty.
This entire conversation is going to revolve around two points:
It's in the customer's best interest to start maintaining their equipment
I'm giving them a break and charging them the least amount of money possible.
Maintenance is "mandatory"
Most of the repair calls I run are on dirty equipment. I've run very few repair calls on clean equipment. In fact, about the only repair calls I've ever run on clean equipment were warranty calls on new equipment. My observation has been that, once you get any original manufacturer's defects out of the way, well maintained heating and cooling equipment tends to break down very little.
I've done little mini studies at shops that have proven to me that over 90% of the breakdowns we repair were caused by a lack of maintenance and that over 90% of the repair calls we run are on non-service agreement customers. In other words, the equipment we're maintaining with service agreements isn't breaking down much. It's the equipment that isn't being maintained under service agreement that's breaking down.
Most of the techs I've worked with present the component cleaning and the maintenance agreement as if they're "optional." They're not. The maintenance is a mandatory part of the repair, and the lowest cost way for them to keep their equipment maintained is with a maintenance agreement.
I'll follow five steps:
Establish the need for regular maintenance
Explain what needs to be done
Get a commitment to start maintaining their equipment
Explain my pricing and close
Obtain written authorization to proceed.
I'll go and find the customer and say, "Mrs. (customer's name) , I've completed my diagnostic. Would you like to know what's wrong, what I'll need to do to fix it and what costs are involved?"
They usually say, "That's what we called you our here for."
I'll say, "Mind stepping over to your (name of the piece of equipment in question) with me?" Always talk about the problem in front of the problem.
1. Establish the need for regular maintenance
"Mrs. (customer's name) , has no one ever consulted with you in the required maintenance of your central heating and cooling system?"
They'll usually just say no, and I'll continue with, "The first thing I should point out is that this breakdown and the entire expense of this call is due to a lack of maintenance." I don't belabor the point. I'm just planting a seed.
2. Explain what needs to be done
"At this point it looks like it's going to need (briefly list the repairs) and the whole thing needs to be cleaned up.
When it applies (and it almost always does) I'll say, "Your furnace is going to need to be cleaned up, too.
"I'll take care of your air conditioner today, but I'll have to come back to take care of your furnace because all our trucks are set up for air conditioning only this time of year. There's only so much you can carry in a service van.
3. Get a commitment to start maintaining their equipment
"We've got a whole list of people with the same problems that you've that we go and see every year between the heating and the cooling season every year. Do you want me to put you on the list, and we'll just call you automatically?" (It's unusual for them to say no, even if they're just being agreeable to keep the conversation going.)
"Do you want me to see if I can get you a discount on that service?" (Again, it's unusual for them to say no, even if they're just being agreeable to keep the conversation going. You've established "the need," and who doesn't want a discount? These two questions have set you up for the service agreement sale.)
4. Explain my pricing and close the sale
"As far as the pricing goes, everything comes out of our standardized price manual. This is your assurance that I'm not looking at you and trying to determine how much money you've got, making up the prices as I go along, or charging different prices by the neighborhood. With the exception of our maintenance agreement customers, everyone pays the same rate, regardless of who they are or where they live.
"And as far as I'm concerned, my job is to charge you the least amount of money possible.
"I'll be happy to show you all the prices straight out of the book, but what I normally do is write them down on a sheet of paper to make it easy for you to read.
"As you can see, there are two prices for everything. That's because we do have a maintenance agreement, and maintenance agreement customers get a discount. You pay for the agreement, but the savings offset the price of the agreement.
"As a courtesy, I went ahead and made you a service agreement customer as if you were already one before I got here. That way I can give you all the discounts and keep your bill as low as possible.
"Here are the prices for everything that needs to be done, and here's your bottom line. And that's the way to spend the least amount of money possible."
I usually don't say prices. I just point to the price on my PTC. I don't know why this is, but I'm more successful when I point to prices than I am when I say them.
5. Obtain written authorization to proceed
Once they give me the verbal "go ahead," I pull the service invoice out from under the PTC, and say, "Okay Mr(s). Smith. We always get written authorization before we proceed. So for now, I'm just going to 'bottom-line' it right here (write the price down on the form). I'll fill out the rest later, when I'm done with the work and can give you a full report. For right now, you just sign here stating that you want the work done, you want me to remove the old parts and you're going to pay me when I'm done. Then you'll sign it again when the work is completed."
1. Project confidence. Act like you know what you're doing and you're confident you're going to resolve their problems
2. Project a positive level of expectation. Act like you expect them to cooperate and be receptive to what you're saying
3. Be matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Don't act like you're trying to convince them of anything or that you need some kind of emotional approval. It's okay if they're distraught or even a little irritated or angry
4. Don't be apologetic. You didn't cause the problem. This is their problem, not yours. You're just there providing them with solutions
5. Once you've said your piece, remain silent. Don't repeat yourself unless they ask you to. Then repeat back what you said the exact same way you said it earlier.
CHARLIE GREER is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," and "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." He's also the trainer of "Charlie Greer's Sales Survival School," held every spring and fall in Ft. Myers, FL. For information on Charlie's products and speaking schedule, or to request a catalog, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com www.hvacprofitboosters.com/> . Email Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org.