It’s pre-season air conditioning system tune-up time again. This time of year, your servcie technicians will occupy most of their days running either pre-paid service agreement tune-ups or cut-rate pre-season tune-up specials. If your techs run just these calls in a routine manner and don’t sell any additional work, these calls can lose money. Or, they can be run in a way that makes them your most profitable calls.

The extra money in this business is in component cleaning and indoor air quality. People who are interested in keeping their equipment clean and running well are people who know they have to spend money on their air conditioners to save on their overall cost of ownership. Additionally, people who are interested in keeping their air conditioner clean also tend to want to keep their indoor air clean.

The Presentation

When a customer answers the front door, say, “Hello. I’m here to perform the routine maintenance on your air conditioner. That means I’ll be going over it with a fine-tooth comb, and I’ll give you a full report on its condition when I’m done.”

Before heading off to start your tune-up and inspection say, “Should I find any deficiencies in your system, and I’m not saying I will, would you like me to call them to your attention?”

After completing your inspection, write down a list of deficiencies, along with their respective prices, in order of priority, on a piece of paper. Approach the customer and ask, “Do you remember when I asked you if I find any deficiencies in your system, do you want me to call them to your attention?” When you get a yes, say, “I did find some deficiencies. Do you want to know what they are?”

After another yes, ask, “While we’re at it, would you like to know what is required to return your air conditioning and heating system as close as possible to its original, factory-fresh condition?” It’s unusual for anyone to not at least be curious, so you’ll get a yes on that as well. You’ve just been given permission to quote as many things as you want.

Say, “I’ve compiled a list for you. There are three categories on this list. There are some things on this list that are mandatory, there are some things that can be put off until later, and there are some system enhancements that would just be nice to have and could save you money in your overall cost of ownership.”

Common Add-on Sales

Blower pull and clean.  When I was running service, two out of every three calls that I ran resulted in a blower pull and clean. Therefore, I believe that any tech who is not doing that many blower pull and cleans is not doing a thorough inspection. This service sells itself when you allow it to. Don’t try to sell it by talking to customers about their blowers in the kitchen. Holding a mirror next to a dirty blower, or even taking a digital picture of it, don’t make it a definite sale. The way to sell blower pull and cleans is to pull the blower out and having it sitting next to the equipment. It’s only two or four screws, and the more often you do it, the quicker you get at it.

Techs have told me they don’t want to pull the blower if they customer’s not going to have them clean it. My point is that when the blower is pulled out so customers can see it, they’re going to want it cleaned and it’s an easy sale. Leave it in the cabinet and only talk about it, and it’s a difficult sale.

The sense of smell can sell the job for you. When our top man would get a decline on a blower pull and clean, he’d wipe his finger across one of the impellers, hold up near the customer’s nose and say, “Smell that.” It works

The gunk you find on indoor blowers is primarily dead skin cells. We shed up to 30,000 of them per hour. So when the equipment is five years old, and the person you’re talking to has owned the home for two years, there are three years’ worth of other people’s dead skin cells in their system!

Indoor coil cleaning. Frequently, once you’ve removed the blower, you can get a look at the indoor coil. As a rule, whatever is on the blower is also on the coil, so that will require cleaning as well.

Duct sanitizing. This is one of your easiest services to sell and install. We use a hospital-grade, EPA-approved sanitizing liquid in a tri-jet fogger. Just turn the fogger on and place it in front of a return vent with the indoor blower running. It’s a quick process and a $200 to 300 add-on. If a customer balks at all, have them stick their head into an air return and take a whiff.  The smell does the selling for you. Call or email me and I’ll provide you with the exact sanitizing agent and fogger we use.

Once we get customers’ systems cleaned up, they’re given the option of doing a few things to prevent this filth from entering their system again.

Upgraded filtration system.  We sell a high quality, custom-made, boxed, pleated air filter that can be up to 5-in. thick and still fits in a return-air filter grille. While other contractors, who don’t know about this filter, may have told them that they have to spend upwards of $2,000 to have a duct mounted filter, we can install a high-efficiency, high-capacity air filter for only a couple of hundred dollars. This is good news to anyone who’s wanted better filtration, but didn’t want to spend the money. This also provides us with a recurring source of income, as these filters require changing two or three times per year. Again, call or email me for details.

UV lights.  Whenever possible, every system should have at least one UV light shining on the blower and another shining on the coil. There should also be another UV light in the air stream to clean and sanitize the air once it has passed through the equipment.

Answers to Customers’ Tough Questions

While most techs tend to agree that the things I mentioned above are required on just about every call they run, they don’t bring them up very often because they’re afraid of two questions customers ask:

1. Why isn’t cleaning every single component included in the price of your tune-up or service agreement?

Here is the proper response to that question: “When we put the price of the tune-ups (or maintenance agreements) together, we priced them to include absolutely everything that needs to be done to a furnace and air conditioner on a routine basis every single year. We did not include things that are non-routine in nature; things only need to be done occasionally, if at all. For instance, I will never have to pull and clean the blower or the indoor coil in my equipment, or sanitize my ductwork. That’s because I have the upgraded filtration system and the UV lights. We have many customers who’ve opted for the upgraded filtration system and the UV light protection, and we’ll never have to do this extensive cleaning for them, either. Once I get your system completely cleaned, if you’re religious on your filter changes and change your filter on the first day of every month, this won’t have to be done again for years, if at all. Improve your filtration and install UV lights, and it will probably never have to be done again.

“So the bottom line is that, when we put together the pricing for the tune-ups (or service agreements) we had to decide whether we wanted to keep the price as low as possible by only doing everything that has to be done to a heating and cooling system every single year, and charge separately for things that are non-routine in nature, or raise the price so that everyone, including you and people who don’t even need the additional cleaning themselves, could subsidize the cleaning of everyone else who needs it. Once I get your equipment clean, and you’re religious about changing your filter, this will keep your cost of maintenance down.”

Don’t expect customers to respond by throwing their arms around you and saying, “Bless ya, boy! How can ya do it so darn cheap?” but it has worked for me.

2. Why hasn’t anyone brought this up to me before?

Response #1: “If you want, you can just always request me.” That’s usually all I have to say.

Response #2: “Central air conditioning and heating haven’t really been around all that long and the entire industry is learning more about it every day. We’ve always done superior inspections and maintenance, but we’ve recently gotten some additional training and made the commitment to do even more thorough inspections than we’d been doing and, when we find deficiencies like this, give our customer every opportunity to do something about it. Would you agree that this needs to be done?”

Response #3: “We’ve always done superior inspections and maintenance, but we’ve recently decided that, instead of just doing the routine maintenance, we’d also give our customers the opportunity to return their equipment as close as possible to its original factory condition.”

Charlie Greer is the current Tom McCart HVAC Consultant of the Year. Charlie can train your techs to do a more thorough inspection, make more recommendations, and increase the dollar amount of their service invoices in-person over the computer using Skype. For more information, visit Charlie on the web at www.hvacprofitboosters.com, call him at 800/963-HVAC (4822), or email him at charlie@charliegreer.com. Become a Facebook friend at www.facebook.com/the.real.charlie.greer.