So you showed up, met the lady of the house, did your complete diagnostic, got the order, completed the repairs, and even sold a service agreement. Things are going well.

That evening, her husband comes home from work, reads your invoice, goes through the overhead, and calls the office demanding to know what you sold his wife and wanting to cancel the service agreement. Bummer.

This scenario is exactly what makes a lot of techs nervous about selling service agreements and “add-ons.” How can this situation be avoided?


It begins with the way you fill out the invoice.

Don’t just put one item on a single line. It doesn’t look good. I know this is a little on the corny side, but the fact is, the more you write on the invoice, the more they feel they got for their money. Write a lot on the invoice and tell the story of the call.

Here’s an example of what I’d write on the invoice of a “no cooling” call.

  • Answered complaint: equipment not cooling. Ran complete diagnostic. Found bad (describe the repair) and unit in need of cleaning, which is the primary cause of compressor failure. Consulted with customer on options and prices. Obtained authorization to proceed with work. Replaced (list the parts) and performed complete precision tuneup on air conditioner. Cleaned outdoor coil. Oiled motor. Changed filter. Checked pressures, temperatures, volts, amps, wiring, safeties, and overall operation. Everything operating normally at this time.

  • Note: Furnace definitely needs cleaning.

  • Set up a maintenance agreement to give customer the lowest rate.

  • Will return during the off-season to do precision tuneup on furnace at no additional charge.

    Put both the standard price and the service agreement price on the invoice, so it’s obvious why buying the service agreement was the cheapest way to go. If the invoice doesn’t already have this printed on it, write something like, “Discount pricing is for service agreement customers only.”

    Now, when the spouse comes home, she or he will have the complete story, and there’s virtually no reason to call the office. There’s also no chance that you can be accused of selling someone something without them knowing about it or proceeding with the work without full authorization.

    I began preparing my invoices like this exclusively to reduce the number of inquiries made to the office by the spouse, nosy friend, or family member who was not present at the time of the service call. Since then, those “after-the-fact” inquiries and complaints have gone from a considerable number to next to none.

    Also, write neatly and press hard. Lots of techs say they don’t have good penmanship and can’t help it. Yes, you can! How does one learn to write neatly? Practice! That’s all there is to it.

    Want to improve your penmanship? On a piece of lined paper, start drawing a horizontal spiral between two lines, sort of like drawing a spring across the paper. Try to make the top and the bottom of the spiral hit the lines precisely. Keep the spiral tight. Do that once across a sheet of paper every day or so and you’ll see your penmanship improve rapidly.

    By the way, a side benefit to pressing harder on the invoice and improving your penmanship is that the office personnel will like you more, and that can’t hurt.


    Another step most techs miss is reassuring the customer a few times during the call that they’ve made the right decision.

    Show them the clean blower, furnace, and/or air conditioner. Show them the part after you’ve taken it out and let them see how burned up it is. Tell them how much better the equipment will run now.

    Provide the spouse with the weapons and sales training they’re going to need when their better half gets home.

    Do your best to make certain they know exactly what they bought, why they bought it, why it was a good decision, and what a good deal you gave them. They’ll stay sold long after you’ve left.

    Greer is the owner of HVAC Profit Boosters, Inc., and the instructor of the “Sales Survival School,” in Ft. Myers, FL. For more information, call 800-963-4822 or visit (website).

    Sidebar: Charlie Greer’s ‘Sales Survival School’

    Upcoming Dates: Sept. 10-13, Oct. 22-25, and Nov. 12-15.

    All schools are held at HVAC Profit Boosters, Inc., in Ft. Myers, FL. For more information, contact Greer at 800-963-4822.

    Publication date: 06/03/2002