In the Dec. 4, 2017 issue of The NEWS, I discussed some common obstacles that customers present when offered a preventive maintenance agreement and solutions to overcome them. This week, let’s take a close look at how to design and market your service plans.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE PLAN
When you’re presenting your maintenance plan to the client, here are the items you’ll want to be sure to include. It may not be practical to explain everything under the plan, but know what is most useful for your client. Different customers will have unique concerns or requirements. However, most customers will find value in these areas:
Maintenance visits: Be sure to break down a typical maintenance visit. It should include but not be limited to: parts inspection, checking gas and refrigerant levels, monitoring electronic components, checking pressure and airflow, tightening connections, inspecting igniters, cleaning heat exchanges, cleaning drainage systems, inspecting and servicing any motor parts, and so on.
Demonstrating the useful aspects proves the service plan is worth the investment.
Discounted rates: Be clear about what services you provide at a lower rate for members of your service plan.
Priority service: Show that you put your routine maintenance clients at the top of the pile during scheduling.
Seasonal adjustments: Heating and cooling systems run differently in the summer and winter. Let customers know you’ll do a seasonal inspection and changeover to make sure everything is running properly for the season.
Timing: Emphasize how often you recommend services take place.
Review the issues: Don’t get in and out on your visits. Explain everything that you cleaned, inspected, and fixed. Show the customer what they’re paying for. Help them understand the reason for your visits.
Including these elements, and making them clear to your clients, means you’re selling them a valuable and useful plan. They’ll be less likely to want to skip it.
MARKETING THE PLAN
For so many customers, a service plan is a “set and forget” protection. They don’t think of it unless something goes wrong. The best way to market a plan is to make sure people don’t forget about it. From the get-go, this means selling them the plan in a way that emphasizes its usefulness. Like I already mentioned, set your first inspection date at the time of sale. Give them a booklet that clearly breaks down what services you offer. Even suggest how often you’d recommend the services occur.
Stay in contact with your clients, and make yourself available. If you think a client is overdue for an inspection, or see someone hasn’t used their plan yet this year, give them a call and offer to come in for a yearly inspection. There’s no need to be pushy about it, but a reminder shows you care about your clients and will go a long way toward building trust.
Use social media — post reminders every week or two about services your maintenance plan covers. In October, post something like, “Winter is coming! Your maintenance plan covers seasonal system changeovers — schedule yours today!” Or suggest services people may not know are covered in their plan: for example, “Did you know that your preventive maintenance plan includes cleaning out your ductwork?”
Keep information about your service plan available on your website. Give it a dedicated page with simple but in-depth breakdowns of what the plan covers. This will be good for clients who lost any paperwork you may have given them.
Include maintenance plan information on your invoices. Break down what aspects of the work their service plan covered. Either state the coverage in the description, or do a deduction from the price to show how much they’re saving through the plan.
Always remind customers about renewal. Renewal rates are a good indicator of how effective your marketing and maintenance plans are.
If you’re getting a lot of people coming back for two or three or more years, it means you’re doing something right. But if a lot of people are abandoning the plan after a year or so, it’s important to sit down with those customers and see why they’ve opted out. Then you can continue to improve your offerings.
So, how do you sell your maintenance plan and keep your hard work running for longer? I’d say it comes down to selling the value of your plan to the customer. Assure them that the money spent is not wasted, and demonstrate it in as many ways as possible.
Be open, communicative, and set a concrete plan with your client. Show them that you’re not going to walk off with their money, never to be heard from again. Make your service plan as visible and clear as possible. An effective routine maintenance plan will sell itself. So always be listening to and addressing a client’s needs with your plan.
Publication date: 3/12/2018