In my previous article, I talked about the necessity of doing a complete inspection when running sales and service calls. One of the benefits of doing the complete inspection is that you normally discover additional needs and problems and, consequently, additional tasks to recommend.

Some people are afraid that recommending and quoting “add-on tasks” will either make the price too high or make you seem like you’re just trying to sell something extra to make a buck. Others feel that, when they’ve already spent money on repairs, they will be unwilling to spend any more. My experience has shown that this is not true.

There are several really cool things about finding additional tasks to do.

  • Chances are, you’ll sell more work on a given job. If you’re a service tech who’s paid on what is commonly referred to as “billable efficiency,” getting the add-on tasks is where it’s at. In fact, the only way to get beyond survival on that type of pay scale and reach the bonus level is to sell more add-on tasks. Salespeople working on commission also make more money.

  • Add-on tasks can make the primary repair seem “cheap.” In other words, this is the answer to the age-old question, “How to you make $479 to change an ignitor sound cheap?” The answer: Come up with about $1,600 worth of legitimate recommendations. The best-case scenario is that they buy all of them. A worst-case scenario is that the customer says something like, “Sixteen hundred dollars? No way! Just get it running.” They’ll only spend $479 instead of $1,600 and feel they got off cheap. Consequently, you made the sale and kept the customer.

  • Additional recommendations give the customer something to say no to, as illustrated above, which can be beneficial. You can also use the add-on sale as a point of negotiation.

  • The additional items can differentiate your bid from your competitors’. (I hate the word bid — it’s actually an acronym for “beat the idiot’s deal.”) This can make it difficult for the prospective customer to comparison shop. When the customer doesn’t have a humidifier and/or air cleaner, recommend them. Most people have dirty ductwork and someone living in the home with sinus or allergy problems, so quote them on duct cleaning. Most structures have some sort of comfort or airflow problem, so include solutions to that in your recommendations.

  • Quoting add-ons establishes you as someone more interested in doing what’s in the customer’s best interest than in shooting a low-ball price.

  • Add-ons don’t “cost extra money” — they save people money. Normally, flat-rate books have two prices or more. One price for non-service agreement customers, commonly called the “standard” rate, another for service agreement customers, often called the “value” rate, and two more prices, both standard and value rate, for add-on tasks. The add-on rate for each task is lower than the same task done as a single task. The reason for this is that, since we save the cost of non-billable travel time by doing additional tasks while we’re already on the job, we pass the savings on to the consumer. That’s why people with legitimate needs who are short on cash or maybe even downright cheap often go for add-on tasks — because they save them money.

    The key is to make customers feel that you’re charging them the least amount of money possible and that you’re doing everything in your power to give them a good deal, which is a very important aspect of avoiding the price objection in the first place.

    You’ll find that when you explain to the customer that the more you do while you’re there, the cheaper everything gets, they will, at a bare minimum, appreciate your taking the extra steps to try to save them money, even if they don’t go for any add-ons.

    I’ve concluded conversations on what needs to be done and the pricing structure with, “So, if you’ve got the money, having me do all this now is the cheapest way to go.”

    You don’t sell add-ons based on how much “extra” they cost. You sell add-ons based on the savings!

    Remember, your additional recommendations must be legitimate. Don’t start bringing up add-on tasks just to add them on. When I run calls, I usually find that, although I am normally called out to do one specific thing, there are usually three or four more things that need to be done.

    When I tell people this, I’m often asked, “What if there are no add-on tasks?” Really? Is the equipment clean? How do the blower wheel and indoor coil look? (Most of the time, you can get a good look at the indoor coil after pulling the blower out of the way.) How does the thermocouple or hot surface ignitor look? Are there any components that are working now but seem likely to fail in the near future? Is the ductwork adequately sized? Is the ductwork leaky or dirty? Are there enough air returns? How about humidification and air filtration? Could any of these areas be improved?

    Quote these products and services more often and you’ll definitely sell more of them.

    If you never quote them, you’ll never sell them.

    Greer is the owner of HVAC Profit Boosters, Inc., and the instructor of the “Sales Survival School,” in Ft. Myers, FL. He also does weeklong training sessions, actually running sales and service calls all across the country, demonstrating his techniques in the field. For more information, visit his website at or call 800-963-4822.

    Upcoming Dates For Charlie Greer’s “Survival School”:

    March 5-8, 2002
    April 16-19, 2002

    Publication date: 02/18/2002