There’s nothing worse than finishing an install with a new client only to have them turn down a routine service plan. As techs, we know the importance of preventative work and regular maintenance. For customers, it’s not always so obvious. Many people only see the front-end dollars and cents. They think, “Hey, it’s brand-new. It’s working. What is there to worry about?” As a pro, you can probably rattle off every possible answer to that question in just a few minutes. This article is an opportunity to look at how to prove the long-term value of service plans — even to clients who don’t see the point.

So, why do people turn down service plans? Well, there are plenty of reasons, and, from the customer’s perspective, they’re all pretty valid. The key is to understand where the clients are coming from and be able to address the root of their concern. Here’s the thoughts of some imaginary people to use as an example.

(You know the drill: Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental).

James L: “I just spent all this money getting a brand-new system put in. It’s in top shape, I don’t expect it to break down any time soon. Plus, it’s under warranty, right? That should take care of it.”

What James said is probably one of the most common reasons I hear for turning down a preventative maintenance plan. It’s a short-sighted perspective, but in the customer’s mind, brand-new equipment shouldn’t need to get fixed. The real concern is that they’ll pay your regular maintenance fee but not use any of the services. Usually the warranty is their idea of a fail-safe if something should go wrong.

John S: “Sorry, I already spent so much getting the unit installed. I’m not sure there’s room in the budget for a service plan.”

John’s concerns aren’t so different from James’ concerns. John is probably not just concerned about the upfront costs. He’s also concerned about putting the money down and seeing no benefits. For John, the concern is with the value of the service plan rather than the cost.

Robert B: “I don’t need that. If it breaks, I’ll get it fixed, I’m sure the cost will be comparable either way. And, worst case scenario, I’ll fix it myself.”

This one is always the most frustrating for me. Luckily, it’s also the easiest to present a convincing case against. Robert’s concerns are a result of a general lack of foresight — something I find all too common.

What can we do to show these kind folks the error of their ways? Let’s look at James, John, and Robert again.

For someone like James, I find the best thing to do is to assure them of the benefits of the plan. When I break it down, I find it important to focus on the immediate, short-term benefits. Usually, I emphasize things like keeping systems running efficiently or  catching issues that would otherwise go unnoticed and cause further damage to the system. These elements save energy, time, and money in the long run.

For people like James, a reminder that the routine maintenance fee covers regular inspections of the entire system often closes the sale. I break down exactly what that entails, how much it would cost if they didn’t have the maintenance plan, and provide some examples of times when routine maintenance helped other clients of mine. I’ll even seal the deal by offering to schedule a date for their first maintenance check on the spot. This assures them that there’s no chance the money they invest will go unused.

Then, there’s the warranty issue. I find it’s helpful to let clients know that many manufacturer warranties are void if there isn’t a regular maintenance plan.

John’s concern was about fitting the cost in the budget. Highlight ways in which routine maintenance can help keep costs down in the long run. This usually means emphasizing the importance of keeping the system running at optimum capacity. That requires a tech to keep it tuned up as often as necessary. It can also help to drive the point home by showing how even small issues in the system can lead to catastrophic failure. Routine inspections help avoid hefty, expensive, and unexpected repairs.

And last, but certainly not least, our friend Robert. The data always supports getting the maintenance plan rather than no plan at all. A simple breakdown of costs under the plan versus without the plan can usually sway them. And, as a professional, it shouldn’t be too hard to dissuade someone from trying to do their own repairs.

In my experience, discussing the service plan with clients has proven effective in swaying people toward purchasing it. That’s not to say it always works — remember you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. Not everyone is going to take you up on the service plan. But, by trying to identify and address their concerns, you’re helping them out in the long run.   

Publication date: 12/4/2017

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