Editor's Note: The is the final installment of a year-long primer designed to teach you what to do when running service calls, and how to maximize each call in an honest and professional manner. Charlie says, "I'll tell you everything I do; from the moment the call is dispatched, to the greeting at the front door, to closing, down to what I do to prevent 'buyerâ€™s remorse.'"
All good things must come to an end, and that includes this service call. You did your complete inspection, went over prices and options, got the order, got the signature agreeing to the work and the pricing, and completed the repairs in a neat and professional manner. You cleaned up when you were done and delivered over-the-top service and value.
You established a legitimate need for a few things that went beyond the bare minimum required to get the system running. The customer purchased some of them and bought a service agreement to save money. Things are going well.
That evening, the customer's spouse comes home from work, reads your invoice, goes through the overhead, calls the office wanting to cancel the service agreement, and says you over-charged them. Bummer.
Of course, the complainer doesn't always have to be the spouse that wasn't present at the time of service. The trouble-maker can also be an in-law or a nosey friend or neighbor.
This scenario is exactly what makes technicians nervous about selling service agreements and "add-ons." How can this situation be avoided?
Preventing 'buyerâ€™s remorse' begins with proper invoice preparation.
Don't just list one item on a single line because it doesn't look good. As corny as this is, the more you write on the invoice, the more satisfied the customer will feel with the amount of money spent. Write a lot on the invoice and tell the story of the call.
A Sample 'No Cooling' Call
Answered complaint of not cooling. Ran a complete diagnostic. Found bad (describe the repair) and unit in need of cleaning. Had partially blocked indoor and outdoor coils, which are the primary cause of compressor failure. Blocked coils were a result of inadequate filtration and a lack of system sterilizers. System also lacked compressor saver and surge protection.
Consulted with customer on options and prices. Obtained authorization to make repairs as noted.
Note: Furnace definitely needs cleaning prior to the onset of the heating season.
Made a maintenance agreement customer to give lowest rate. Service agreement discounts = $___.
Will return during the off-season to do precision tune-up on furnace at no additional charge.
If you don't have enough room on your invoice to write all this, make room for it. If you can'â€™t make room for it, write it on a second invoice.
After I began preparing my invoices like this, those after-the-fact inquiries and complaints by anyone who wasn't present at the time of the service call, dropped to next to none.
Note how the invoice establishes the need for every product or service. Unless the invoice establishes the need, anyone who wasn't present when you were there will question the necessity of everything you did that went beyond the bare minimum. That's one reason why it'â€™s becoming very popular to take digital photographs of the equipment and keep them on record for awhile.
Put both the standard price and the service agreement price on the invoice, so it's obvious why buying the service agreement was the cheapest way to go. If the invoice doesn't already have this statement printed on it, write, "Discount pricing is for service agreement customers only."
When you take the trouble to write your invoices up in this manner, you cannot be accused of selling someone something without them knowing about it, or proceeding with the work without full authorization.
Write neatly. Lots of techs say they don't have good penmanship and can't help it. Yes, you can! How does one learn to write neatly? Practice! That's all there is to it. Neat penmanship is a result of putting for the effort. Poor penmanship shows a lack of effort. Prior to the popularity of typewriters (now itâ€™s word processing), even the uneducated had attractive penmanship. The reason for that is because people judge you buy your penmanship. People just don't take pride in their penmanship and practice it like they used to.
Want to improve your penmanship? It's all about control. You can improve your control with this simple exercise: Start drawing a horizontal spiral between two lines, sort of like drawing a spring across the paper. Try to make the top and the bottom of the spiral hit the lines precisely. Keep the spiral tight. Do that once across a sheet of paper every day for a couple of weeks and you'll see your penmanship improve rapidly.
After you've written up the invoice and any other paperwork required to complete the call, contact dispatch and inform them you're wrapping up your call and will be ready for another one shortly. This keeps the wait time between calls to a minimum and will help you get home earlier.
Go inside and do a final walk-through with the customer. Show them the clean blower, furnace, and/or air conditioner. Tell them how much better the equipment will run now. Point out your company stickers and show them where you signed your work.
Your goal right now is to make absolutely certain your customers know everything you did, why you did it, how much better things will be now that youâ€™ve done it, and feel good about it.
What To Say
Make sure your customers have read their paperwork and understand it by reading to them exactly what you wrote on the invoice. Not much more and not much less.
Do your best to make certain they know exactly what they bought, why they bought it, why they made the right decision, and what a good deal you gave them. This provides your customers with the "sales training" they're going to need when their "better half" gets home and asks why they spent all that money.
Once youâ€™ve gone over the paperwork, ask them if they have any questions. Then say, "All that's required at this point is your signature right there and your payment, and I'll be on my way."
My Final Words
Once they've paid, it's time for you to leave. No more talking. The call is over. Don't do any socializing and don't stand there repeating yourself unnecessarily.
My final words are, "You're a family member now. If you ever need anything, call me and Iâ€™ll come out and take care of it personally, myself."
Time how long it takes you to do your final wrap-up and collect. You'll find itâ€™s around 30 minutes or so. Try to pare it down to 10 minutes.
Once you get into your truck, don't sit in the driveway waiting on dispatch, get out of sight. Now it's time to go make another customer happy with an outstanding service call.
Charlie Greer teaches "Charlie Greer's Sales Survival School." The Fort Myers, Florida, session for HVAC service technicians is October 5-8, 2010; the session for HVAC salespeople is October 12-15, 2010. Check out Charlie's new audio CDâ€™s, "Over-The-Top HVAC Sales," and "Quantifying Quality: How to Get Your Price in HVAC Sales." Complete details are on Charlie's website: www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Call Charlie at 800/963-HVAC (4822). E-mail Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org.