Last month, we discussed opening the conversation when people call to inquire about service (How to Sell Service Appointments — Part 1, CB, Feb. 2012, p. 38, http://bit.ly/sellappointments1). This month, I’ll cover the most important parts of selling service appointments over the phone.
Explain How Much You Charge
When a caller asks about the price of a service call, say, “For $X a service technician in a well-stocked service vehicle will come to your home and take a look at your entire system, then provide you with firm prices and options. Once he gets your approval he can usually fix your system right on the spot.”
If you’re a company that waives the service call fee when a customer buys at least one thing from you, say, “There’s no charge as long as we do the work for you while our technician is there. We’ve been in business for X years and we do service repairs for thousands of people every year, so you know our prices are very reasonable. If, in the unlikely event you elect not to have us fix it for you on the spot, there’s a minimal service fee of $X to pay to get the vehicle to your home and for the technician’s time. But don’t worry about that, you’re going to get the work done anyway, aren’t you?”
When you get a positive response, say, “Your address, please?”
Land the Complete Inspection
The key to a higher average service call is to look the entire system over on every call. Sometimes techs don’t want to do it; sometimes customers don’t want it done. The appointment seller can put the tech in a position where he must do the inspection, and can make it easier for techs who want to do the inspection, by saying, “One of our trademarks is that our technicians perform an inspection of the mechanical components of your system, both inside and outside, and provide you with a report on its condition. Just so we can plan out our time better and stay on schedule, should I tell the technician to expect to perform the complete inspection?”
Make the Call C.O.D.
Make the call cash-on-delivery by saying, “Our service technicians are required to collect at the conclusion of each call. Should I tell him to expect cash, check, or credit card?”
The concept of landing your customers on paying when service is rendered has evolved over time. When I was a kid, the “furnace man” came out and fixed or replaced your heating system and sent you a bill. Money was never discussed.
When I entered the business in 1985, we were just starting to provide firm quotes up front and were providing an accurate invoice at the end of each job, but still weren’t collecting much on the spot.
Nowadays, people expect to have to pay for services when they’re rendered.
The point is that, many contractors for whom collections are not a problem are getting away from landing customers on paying when the call is completed. The reason is that a conversation with a customer can be going very smoothly until the topic of payment is brought up by the appointment seller. Sometimes it seems to raise pricing questions and can create a price objection that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.
So, if collecting at the end of the call has not been a problem for you company, you can experiment with skipping this step.
Regardless of whether or not you cover collections with customers, make sure they know if there is a service call fee or minimum charge prior to getting off the phone.
While dispatching the call, inform the tech of any prior customer history and, if they have an agreement with your company, its expiration date and any maintenance that has already been performed. Inform your technician, “This customer expects to hear about the maintenance agreement, expects the complete inspection and report, and will be paying by _____.”
Get Their Email Address
Have a page on your company’s website that has a photo and a brief bio of each tech. The bio doesn’t have to be any more than a sentence of two. Include a quote from each tech such as, “Coming to work at this company has given me the opportunity to provide the level of service I became a service technician do. I can’t image being happy working anyplace else.”
After the call is booked, say, “If you’ll give me your email address I can send you a link with the technician’s photo a little information on him. Your email address is safe with us. We don’t sell, loan or lease our customer information to anyone, and we don’t spam.”
Now the customer expects a complete inspection, to hear about the service agreement, and to pay when the work is completed.
Next month, I’ll tell you how to handle the calls that are more difficult to book.
Charlie Greer is the creator of “Who Answers the Phone?” an audio CD course that teaches how to get more service calls that are of a higher quality. You can call Charlie with questions about this article at 800/963-HVAC (4822) or email him at email@example.com. Visit his newly redesigned website at www.hvacprofitboosters.com.