A contractor friend from the Sacramento area recently sent me an article that appeared in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, an area that is apparently in the midst of a significant heat spell.
“If your air conditioner just died, you’ll likely have to wait more than a week to get it fixed. HVAC repair services in Sacramento have been inundated with hundreds of calls every day during this week’s record-breaking heat wave. One contractor in midtown received more than 400 calls in one day. They’re booked for over a week out and according to their manager, are no longer accepting any new customers. Another contractor wakes up to dozens of messages every morning. ‘Calls are coming in until 11 p.m.,’ he said. ‘People just want it to get fixed now. It’s crazy.’ The same is true for at least four other HVAC repair services we contacted in Sacramento.”
The interesting thing about the article is not one of the contractors indicated that they offered maintenance agreements. It was very discouraging to read this article, which is why my friend sent it to me. I have written in these pages very often about the benefits of maintenance agreements for both the consumer and the contractor. One of the major takeaways from the article is that it is apparent that many of these homeowners had not been encouraged to have maintenance performed on their air conditioning systems. As a result, they were calling a contractor, or probably several contractors, to obtain service as quickly as possible. I’m sure that nearly every one of those customers said something to the effect: “I don’t understand why it is that my air conditioner breaks on the hottest day of the year.”
We’ve all heard it before. At this point, instead of saying what we would really like to say, we explain that when the temperatures are the hottest, HVAC units have to work the most, don’t have time to cool down, etc.
It is certainly likely that a number of these consumers may not have even had to call for service in this hot weather if they had had their unit maintained. Here is the perfect opportunity for a knowledgeable service technician to explain why customers should have had maintenance agreements and sell them one right then. You need to explain to customers that the problem with their units is that the condensing coil is completely blocked with dirt, which is causing high pressures that will eventually shut off the unit. Stress to them that if they had the unit maintained and cleaned, they likely would have avoided being without cooling and the expensive overtime service call. If there is a part needed, you may throw in the 10 percent you would have given them off the cost of the part if they sign up today. Also, explain to them that your company provides priority service to maintenance agreement customers. An approach such as this is a great way to get your maintenance agreement program started. If you would like a copy of our maintenance agreement form and explanation piece just email me at the address shown atop this page, and I will be happy to forward it to you.
What I’ve explained so far are the benefits of the maintenance agreement program to your customers. However, there are a number of significant benefits to you, the contractor, as well. For those of us in areas where the weather is not extreme all of the time, a maintenance agreement program provides work for your technicians in those slower times.
For contractors in Sacramento, maintenance agreements would have allowed them to add new customers because they would have had fewer calls from their regular customers with maintained units. That benefit to the technicians should not be overlooked. Our technicians work hard to sell maintenance agreements for all of the above reasons, but also because they want customers to request them so they stay busy in the off season. A good maintenance agreement program can be a benefit cash-flow wise, as well. The customer should pay for the total years of the maintenance agreement before (or at the latest) during the first visit. This gives you 50 percent of the money to have available to use as capital. Another advantage for a contractor is that the customer thinks of you as his contractor. When a unit breaks down you will be the one to get the call. This will lead to a repair and potentially a future replacement call.
A good maintenance agreement program is a must for any HVACR contractor looking to grow. And for all of the reasons that are causing the problems for those Sacramento contractors, now is the as good a time as ever to start your maintenance agreement program.
Publication date: 7/17/2017