Successful Companies Condone Catch-and-release Contracting
I want to talk again about maintenance agreements (MAs). Regular readers of this space know I have often spoken about the advantages maintenance agreements afford HVAC contractors. However, today I want to begin my pitch for maintenance agreements from a somewhat different perspective. We have always known homeowners who opt for regular maintenance experience numerous benefits. Through the years, as homeowners have provided different perspectives regarding how they are going to spend their lives and time, the need for HVAC contractors, and the maintenance they provide, has varied. In times past, when many homeowners enjoyed doing maintenance duties around the house, they would at least attempt to do some routine maintenance on their HVAC systems. The level of proficiency of their work is immaterial, because they felt they were doing a good job and wouldn’t think of calling the HVAC guy.
However, two things have occurred in the last few years that have greatly changed that dynamic. The first of these is the fact that everyone seems to be so busy with jobs, family, etc. these days that what little free time they have, they certainly don’t want to spend it inside their furnaces. Many of the new homes being built today have very small yards with products that are as maintenance-free as possible.
The second factor has to do with the fact that furnaces and air conditioners have become much more sophisticated in recent years. There are far more electronic components, units that communicate with the rest of the system and other appliances, and, in general, much more involved in providing routine maintenance on the newer equipment than there was 10-20 years ago.
This provides a wide-open door for intelligent HVAC contractors interested in growing their customer bases. Has your tactic been to advertise and offer an inexpensive diagnostic fee that’s ultimately designed to increase the actual cost of the repair to cover your costs? If this has been your tactic, and you have charged $XX for that diagnostic fee, when your competitor down the street decides to discount his diagnostic fee by $10 from your cost, price buyers that came to you will very likely switch to your competitor’s cheaper price tag. By just making a low-priced, one-time service call, you not only haven’t developed a relationship with those customers, but you’ve taught them how to secure simple, low-price repairs. If you choose to use this tactic to get the first call, then you should convince your service technicians, in the most positive way possible, they must convert those customers into maintenance agreement customers. Then, the next time one of those customers needs a repair, you are the HVAC contractor that receives that call.
Besides the obvious advantage of adding these customers to your real customer base, there is another benefit to you and your employees for pushing MAs. Virtually every contractor, regardless of his location in the country, has periods when his workflow slows down. Maintenance agreements help fill that void by bringing in some revenue, and, perhaps as important, they help keep your service technicians working. Every service technician, regardless of how shy or uninterested in selling he is, has to see the personal and professional advantages a MA offers. Thus, make sure your crew is selling MA options on every call.
It’s up to you, the contractor, to teach technicians the advantages of selling MAs to customers, because any good technician has the welfare of “his” customers as a priority. Then, I recommend offering a spiff for every MAs sold by a technician. With just these two incentives, you will be amazed at how quickly the number of MA grow. If you email me at the address atop this page, I will be happy to send you a copy of the flier we use as a selling tool to explain MAs to customers as well as a copy of our actual MA paperwork. Also, I’m going to send, as a little bonus, a new referral sales card we recently developed and are beginning to distribute on all sales calls and most service calls. I would be interested to learn if you like the look of the piece. You’re welcome to copy it but you may want to change the company name on it. Note: You don’t have to change the name if you wish not to.
With today’s equipment technology and the mindset of today’s customers, we, as contractors, have a golden opportunity to increase our customer base while increasing the service we are providing to our customers – a service they are demanding.
Publication date: 11/28/2016