ACHRNEWS

My Two Cents: Curing the Summer Blues

September 1, 2008
Butch Welsch

As we finish our “non-summer,” I believe it is appropriate for me to again ascend to my soapbox. We are ending one of the coolest spring and summers on record. Contractors have been sending service technicians home early in the day even in the middle of July. We have always found that the amount of calls and leads drops off significantly around Aug. 15. Unfortunately, this year we didn’t have any hot weather after the middle of July and the drop off started much earlier than normal.

While we certainly suffered some of these serious issues, the impact was not as severe on us as it was on many of our competitors because of the strong emphasis we have on maintenance agreements. So yes, I am going to again make a strong pitch to encourage you to have a very extensive maintenance agreement program. I will be happy to send you a copy of our maintenance agreement, along with the brochure we use that explains the advantages of the program, if you will just e-mail me your request.

WHY MAINTENANCE AGREEMENTS?

Why are maintenance agreements more important than ever to you, the contractor? There are several key reasons. They provide steady work in times when typically there are not a lot of breakdown service calls. Normally, we can easily keep our technicians busy the last half of May, June, July, and the first part of August running actual breakdown service calls. Having a large quantity of maintenance agreements allows you to keep your technicians busy during the slower months of March, April, September, and October.

This year, since it has been so cool throughout the summer (except for a brief two-week period), we have used the opportunity to market to our large customer base and have worked to add more maintenance agreement customers. Our technicians and service department office staff are used to selling these agreements. They all realize that with the weather we have experienced, it is in all of our best interests to increase our number of those customers. As a result, we sold and performed new maintenance agreements throughout the month of July.

Another reason that maintenance agreement customers are so important to you is the fact that the customer considers you “their contractor.” The more of those customers you have out there that consider you their contractor, the more likely they will call you when they have a breakdown and possibly need new equipment.

With cooler weather, we know there are going to be less breakdown service calls. And because it’s cooler, the customer can take more time shopping for a contractor. But the more maintenance agreement customers you have, the larger the number of those service calls you will receive. So even though the pie may not be as big, hopefully you will get more pieces.

ARRANGING THE SCHEDULE

If you have worked hard to sell maintenance agreements to groups of customers within particular subdivisions or areas, you can obtain an additional benefit. We all know the negative effect that the high price of gasoline has had on our businesses. When you have many maintenance agreement customers within close proximity of each other, you can arrange days when you will be in that area and perform several of those maintenance calls on the same day.

This can greatly reduce your drive time and gas guzzling mileage. And we all know that gas is taking a bigger chunk out of our bottom line. Routing your calls requires some advanced planning, but it is definitely worth the time and effort.

So the moral of this whole story is to not sit around and complain about the weather and the lack of service calls. Spend the time going through your files and contacting your previous customers and work hard to sell them a maintenance agreement. Besides giving your technicians a call to go on, you will be making that customer “your customer” in the future.

Publication date: 09/01/2008