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Think Maintenance Agreements in 2011

February 7, 2011
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Butch Welsch

So now it’s 2011. How are you planning for this New Year? In some ways, it’s going to be different than 2010. The tax credit has been cut one-third and doesn’t sound near as inviting as the previous $1,500. And we can’t count on 100 degree weather in July and August, although naturally that would be welcome.

Unfortunately, from what we can tell, the new residential market is going to have a very slow recovery and will likely be only slightly better than last year, if that. And even worse is the commercial market where our friends in that business tell us it may not even hit bottom until the end of this year. It sounds as if we all had better get to work and do some things to make sure we will have a successful year.

For our company, we plan to get back to basics. We feel that the emphasis this year is going to have to be on customer retention. By this I mean not only retaining customers who have been past customers, but also making sure that we retain new customers as our customers. Our main focus will be to emphasize selling and retaining maintenance agreements. We have found the best way for us to retain customers is to have them on our maintenance agreement program. If you don’t have a strong program, now is the time to put one into place. To help you start, I will be happy to send you our maintenance agreement itself, as well as the promotional piece we use to explain the benefits to our customers if you will just send me an e-mail.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

The most important thing in starting to sell maintenance agreements is to show your employees the benefits of those agreements to the customers, as well as to them and the company. The service technicians need to understand that when they sign up a maintenance agreement customer they are not only ensuring the company of an additional maintenance call, but if they are diligent and sell themselves as well, the customer is very likely to request them for that next call.

In addition, in the event the customer needs emergency service, they are not only going to call your company, but in many cases will request that specific service technician. What better form of job security can there be? We provide even more incentive to the service technicians to sell the maintenance agreements by providing them a selling spiff on each one they sell. These monies are recorded and given to them in a single check the first week in December each year. By the way, we do it this way at the request of the technicians.

The benefits to the customer for you providing the maintenance are well documented. Very few homeowners will properly clean condensing coils on outdoor units and probably fewer will clean the burner area of their furnace. In addition, the routine checking of vents and flues is a major safety benefit. Our sales information brochure outlines all of the customer benefits.

The importance of maintenance agreements to the company cannot be overlooked. On top of that list is the fact that it provides work for your service technicians in the normally slow seasons. Next, in order of importance is the fact that it makes the customer, your customer. That is when you have a maintenance agreement with a customer; they feel you are their contractor. Typically then, if they are in need of service or even replacement, at least you are the first one they contact. While you may not be the only one contacted for a replacement, if you have a done a good job of providing quality service in the past, you certainly should have the best opportunity.

With new construction improvement - both residential and commercial - unlikely, and with 100 degree weather unpredictable, don’t sit around and wait. Get that maintenance agreement program going strong right now.

Publication date: 02/07/2011
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