Ron's Ramblings

The Best Way to Rip-Off Your Customers

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Many customers feel braced for contractors or technicians to "rip them off" and sell them products and services they don't need. But the real rip-off would be to undersell.

 

Customers who feel as if you’re trying to “rip them off” present a challenge for residential HVAC contractors and technicians. This is especially true of customers who don’t know you or your company. Customers who have found your website and called you because their furnace or air conditioner isn’t working tend to be on their guard. They don’t know anything about their system or why it’s broken, and they’re afraid of how much the repair (or worse, replacement) will cost. They’re ready to think you’re not being honest with them, or that you’re going to try to sell them things they don’t need.

Of course, Dateline-style “sting” operations fuel this fear: http://bit.ly/HVACsting.

It’s one of the major reasons many technicians hate selling.

In reality, however, the most effective way to rip customers off is to not educate them about all the options available to them to make them safe, healthy, and comfortable in their own homes. Sure, many customers are going to be thinking price first. They want you to: a) tell them their system can be repaired and they don’t need to replace it; b) make the repair quickly and be on your way; and c) not break their budget. They approach you with their “game faces” on, like the customer in this auto dealership ad: http://bit.ly/SpitzerAd. They don’t want to hear any nonsense about indoor air quality, airflow or other mumbo-jumbo (as they perceive it to be).

However, if you’re afraid of the rip-off perception to the point that you don’t even present and discuss all the things that a homeowner might need or at least might want to consider, you’re truly doing them a disservice. Their home comfort system represents a significant investment, and they deserve to know what’s available and what’s possible. They deserve to have the information they need to decide what’s best for them and their home.

So go ahead and talk it out with customers. Let them know you understand their price concerns — after all, you’re a homeowner with a budget, too. Who knows, many customers may still think you’re a slick salesman trying to sell them snake oil. But you’ll know the truth: the real rip-off would be to undersell.

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What's Ron's Ramblings?

Contracting Business Senior Editor Ron Rajecki’s take on the issues facing HVAC contractors today.

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