Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Why training is key to profits in the HVAC and home service industry
What’s the first thing a home service technician should say when he or she arrives on a customer’s doorstep?
“Is my truck parked OK?”
That may seem banal, but that’s just one nuance of a technician’s interaction with a customer that can ultimately boost sales and customer loyalty. Consistent training is key to boosting that positive communication.
One of the most important things for home service companies, like those in the HVAC space, to realize is that they are in the service business. That means they must train their technicians to provide customer service, no matter how subtle. It’s the best investment they can make.
The focus should be on communication and sales over anything else. Technical training should be a minor component of a training regimen. If you have experienced techs, however, that’s easy. The hard part that is not trained on a daily basis is on the sales side: How to communicate with customers; how to give options; and what to look for in a house. That’s the most important piece technicians need help with. They may be expert and fully capable technicians, but if they are going to increase their sales revenue, they need to understand customer communication.
UNDERSTAND WHAT PERFECT LOOKS LIKE
Famed football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
If you just go through the motions — even all day, every day — that doesn’t mean you are increasing your aptitude. Until you understand what perfect looks like, you can’t attempt to practice it perfectly. It’s very important to consistently train your techs on customer-service fundamentals.
All home service companies want to grow, and the way to do that is to create a positive customer experience. Train your techs how to improve the customer experience, even if it seems really basic: This is how we greet the customer, and this is how we walk them through the agenda for the day. Develop scripts and encourage their use for every scenario — from accompanying a customer to broken equipment to providing service or equipment options. All those little nuances are the experience, and that’s what you should be teaching every day. The goal is to put a customer at ease and build familiarity. Customers won’t recommend you to friends or family until a positive experience is replicated multiple times. Remember, your company and technicians are not just being compared to other HVAC companies, they are being compared to Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and every other company in the service space. Make your techs stand out, and you’ll get a lot more business.
EDUCATE THE CUSTOMER
One vital thing to note in communications training is the importance of educating the customer. Teach your techs to have a customer accompany them to equipment that needs service. Education and sales are synonyms. You want customers to look at a heat pump, furnace or other HVAC system and help them understand what the problem is and how to fix it. You never want a tech to simply ask where the broken equipment is, disappear to fix it and then present a customer with an invoice.
Technicians should also offer sincere compliments when coming into a house. Compliment a customer on a car in the driveway or their landscaping or flower garden. But they need to be genuine. Establish rapport, but don’t sound like a drone.
Another key to sales is for techs to not be their own customer, so to speak. Don’t offer a cheaper repair option. Give them a range of options and let the customer make the call.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
The easiest way for your techs to increase their sales is to explain things well. Keep it simple. Don’t get too technical. As the saying goes, “A confused mind always says no.” If they can communicate in basic terms, it means they understand it well. Regular training and team engagement means your company will have better performers across the board. Technicians are money motivated, and their performance is tracked on conversion rates. If your company just tracks key performance indicators, but you are not telling them how to improve their performance, the company is not doing them any justice.
Training should focus on technical material once a month. Training on sales and communication should occur three times a month.
Many owners and managers in the HVAC or other home service sector feel there is not enough time for training, don’t know if it’s worth it, or don’t have time to facilitate it. It comes down to understanding the value of training. If you can Increase conversion rates by 5 percent doing sales training, the boost it gives your revenue is undeniable. Yes, bosses and technicians may have to come in earlier and come directly to the shop, but if you schedule training appropriately, it’s not going to affect the number of runs in a day.
It’s actually easy to impart to techs the importance of training: If you can communicate well with your customers, you’ll make more money. And don’t forget to ask if your truck is parked properly.
Publication date: 9/17/2018