HVACR contractors can take multiple approaches when looking to price out their services. The time and materials (T&M) approach typically involves charging for materials and equipment used on a job site, markups for overhead, hourly labor fees, and occasional fuel surcharges.
Another approach gaining momentum in recent years is flat rate pricing, where customers know the price of everything before making a purchase, thus eliminating labor and material cost calculations.
Both methods have their pros and cons, but The New Flat Rate (TNFR), a company boasting menu-based pricing tools for HVAC contractors, is hoping its training center and headquarters in Georgia will help convince both curious and skeptical contractors to take the plunge and adopt flat rate pricing.
TIME TO TRAIN
TNFR moved into its new facility in Dalton, Georgia, in mid-August 2015 and launched the training center on Aug. 24, 2015. TNFR’s vice president and senior trainer, Matt Koop, is spearheading the company’s training efforts.
“Because I and our other trainers are technicians and business owners alike, we relate to attendees on a personal level. The content we share is accepted and imprinted very quickly,” said Koop. “The low-pressure communication styles we teach help to improve outcomes across the board. Technicians who hate to sell are able to get high-end results without feeling like salesmen.”
TNFR’s inaugural training sessions in late August featured attendees from states across the country, including Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia.
“We offer different types of training, and each is very personalized,” said Koop. “Our primary class is a two-day program centered on the essentials of flat rate pricing. We’re offering a new, easy way to implement good business practices for your personnel. It’s a customer retention/sales program every month and sometimes twice a month.”
TNFR also offers customer service office management training to help improve over-the-phone and peer-to-peer communication. Koop said it focuses on setting and respecting boundaries with prospective customers.
“We focus on establishing a true wow factor with a customer,” he said. “We train on practices and things they can change in their companies to get better. Our training focuses on helping contractors earn more money as well as offering a higher-quality product.”
Jared Leisek, business partner at Einstein Plumbing and Heating in Bend, Oregon, said his participation in the Customer Retention/Service program at TNFR allowed him the ability to rebuild a company from the ground up and have a strategic ABC plan from call scripts to answering phones and talking with customers.
“We are no longer doing block scheduling,” he said. “We are direct and give set times for appointments. We are able to better pitch shorter windows because of this training. It is really great for beginners and allowed me to understand the industry. The way Matt [Koop] and Danielle Putnam [TNFR president] structured everything has taken away objections from customers and allowed them to control the conversation and make a great decision.”
Byron Hubbard, service manager for Thomas HVAC in Hunstville, Alabama, was looking for new dispatching software when he first came across TNFR, and it gave him the opportunity to be a part of something new.
“It was very different from what I was accustomed to, for sure,” he said. “The class I attended was only a one-day training session. I didn’t get any one-on-one time, but my service techs had some one-on-one sessions in the two-day training sessions. We learned to always follow the process on every service call. It’s important to do things the same way every time, regardless of the outcome, because the process works.”
Koop himself has been an HVAC service technician, which he believes helped prepare him for his current role.
“I started out as a service tech, and public speaking wasn’t my strong suit, and it was really upon request that I started in this role because of my service background,” he said. “When we started these sessions, it was me walking in and saying, ‘This is how I use [TNFR], and this is how it works.’ The great thing now is we are constantly evolving based on feedback from members and are always tweaking and changing how it works.”
Simply put, flat rate pricing is a fit for Leisek and the team at Einstein. “It just seems a lot easier than coming up with some price, not sure if that’s even the final price, and then shoving it down a consumer’s throat,” he said.
The training and approach techniques that Leisek learned have been valuable to this point, and he said the results have been great.
“I’ve recently been training one of our new technicians on flat rate pricing, showing him how to do it properly and why it’s important. So, a few days ago, on our last call of the day, we both sensed the customer wanted a replacement option for a water heater without outright saying it. We gave him a replacement or fix option and allowed him to make the decision as to what he wanted, without telling him what he wanted. It’s a big difference, and the technician understood that.”
Hubbard has also seen results come from his time at the TNFR training center. “Our ticket prices have increased, and we now have something to offer every customer without trying to be salesmen,” he said. “There’s no pressure, and customers choose how much money they want to spend.”
Koop said most classes have 15 or fewer people, which makes it easier to interact with each attendee on a personal level. “We do host some large classes with 30 people, but we try to keep most of them small,” he said. “We find smaller groups are willing to get more hands-on, and we are able to interact on, a one-on-one basis. We also take questions at the end of each session and feed off of their feedback. The classes can go from all HVAC guys to all plumbing guys to mostly electrical contractors.”
TNFR also follows up with trainees after they leave the facility in Georgia to ensure the implementation process is going well.
“Everyone who goes through the class gets direct technical support from us,” Koop said. “All of the companies that go through our training purchase a specific package, and most of them include online Skype reviews. Typically, I’ll meet with a company every other week for eight weeks after training.”
TNFR’s training efforts have also expanded beyond the training facility in Dalton, with classes taking place in Los Angeles and in Texas. Koop said taking TNFR on the road for classes will continue to expand and be important for the company moving forward.
Interested in learning more about The New Rate, visit www.thenewflatrate.com.
Publication date: 6/6/2016