Free Stuff from the Contracting Business Website—Part IV

This is the fourth part of a continuing series that highlights the free Service Roundtable downloads available from Contracting Business Magazine. Each month Contracting Business Magazine presents a free business tool prepared by the Service Roundtable that anyone can download from the magazine’s website. Below you will find another half a dozen you might have missed from past issues. Read the description and click the links to any you want to download.

Field Service Reminder Sticker

On any repair, there's a broken product and a broken customer. Use this sticker to remind your field service personnel about the need for human relations skills. Place the sticker on the inside of the lid of a mechanic's toolbox. The reminders on the sticker are:

• You are a guest in the customer's house. Act like one.

• Half the communication battle is standing up straight, making eye contact, smiling, and listening with interest.

• On every service call, there's a broken product and a broken customer. Fix both.

• Don't assume you know what the customer wants without asking. Present the options - all the options, and let the customer pick what he wants.

• The customer is counting on you. Don't disappoint him.

The stickers are designed for Avery 6878 color laser labels. If a local office supply store doesn't carry these labels, they can be ordered from Avery.com for less than $16.

It is saved as an Adobe Portable Document File (pdf). Members of the Service Roundtable have versions they can edit and customize to emphasize their service points. Click the link below to download the file:

http://contractingbusiness.com/images/fieldservicereminder.pdf

Hourly Rate Comparison Calculator

Do your people question your pricing? This simple Hourly Rate Comparison Calculator from the Service Roundtable will help them understand your charges are in line with other service providers charge for labor (and quite possibly, far less than other service providers charge). It also helps people understand why most businesses charge flat rate prices and why you should too.

Today, few industries rely on hourly rates for pricing. The reason is hourly rate comparisons are silly. First, people care about the total price, not the component prices. Second, no one wants to go to the trouble of calculating the price to figure out the actual price. Third, people don't want the price to vary based on the time.

What if everyone charged by the hour? People would be shocked at the hourly rates they pay, every day, without a second thought. Use this calculator to estimate the hourly rate for a haircut, oil change, and cup of coffee. Use retail prices for material (i.e., the prices the consumer pays, not the prices the seller pays).

The file was prepared as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Click the link below to download the file:

http://contractingbusiness.com/images/hourlyrates.xls

Vehicle Inspection Checklist

Some mechanics are neat, clean, and fastidious in all that they do. Their trucks are always clean, always organized. Nothing is ever out of place. Others look like a whirlwind blew through the vehicle. Even if this mechanic wanted to hand the homeowner a brochure or place a few door hangers, he couldn't find them. His vehicle organization hampers his effectiveness and its appearance detracts from your image. Yet, he's a good mechanic.

Use this vehicle inspection checklist to highlight the items of importance for the appearance, maintenance, safety, and organization of the vehicle. The checklist contains 20 items.

After passing the checklist out and reviewing in a service meeting, conduct surprise inspections. Hand the driver 20 dollar bills. Each time an item fails the inspection, he has to hand you a dollar. What he has at the end of the inspection, he gets to keep.

By handing your employee a stack of bills at the start of the inspection, you've removed the negative from a punitive inspection. Yet, by requiring him to return dollars for unacceptable performance, you've created a degree of psychological turmoil. It hurts to hand back those dollar bills.

Conduct the inspections following a service meeting to make it more of an event and fun for everyone. Let your other mechanics judge whether he passes each item.

The file was prepared as an Adobe Portable Document File (pdf). Service Roundtable members have a fully customizable version. Click the link below to download the file:

http://contractingbusiness.com/images/vehicleinspectionsheet.pdf

Exit Strategy Calculator

Are you planning on selling your company one day? If so, how big will your company need to be to support your desired lifestyle? This simple calculator uses your projected income stream, the market return on investments, and your projected net profit to estimate the size of company you will need (note the impact of small changes in net profit on the value of the company. This calculator is based on a multiple of four times EBITDA. This is higher than the valuation most specialty trade contractors can expect. However, it is possible to earn a higher multiple, especially if your company has implemented well documented procedures and systems.

The calculator was prepared as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Click the link below to download the file:

http://contractingbusiness.com/images/retirementcalculator.xls

Gift Certificate

What's the difference between a gift certificate and a coupon? Not much. Usually, gift certificates are purchased where coupons are discounts. For this reason, people tend to keep gift certificates until needed, while they discard coupons unless there is an immediate need. The gift certificate has intrinsic value to the holder, while the coupon has none.

You can give gift certificates to your customers in lieu of coupons. Send out small gift certificates with thank you cards. Use the gift certificate as a bounce back following service to entice the homeowner to call your company again. Give them to members of your service clubs. Give them to your employees to give to their family and friends. Gift certificates, when used in this manner, are coupons that get saved.

Gift certificates are also nice to send to disgruntled customers. It's an enticement to get them to try you again even though their last experience might not have been the most pleasant for them.

Each week, you might also mail a handful of $5 or $10 gift certificates to customers at random with a note thanking them for their business. This is noteworthy. Try it and see what happens.

These gift certificates are designed to be appropriate for an air conditioning company. When issuing the gift certificates, write the recipient's name, the giver's name (your company in most cases), and the individual who is issuing the gift certificate in the appropriate blanks.

The gift certificate was prepared as a Jpeg graphic. Service Roundtable members have versions they can customize with their company name, logo, contact information and face value. Click the link below to download the file:

http://contractingbusiness.com/images/srgiftcertificate.jpg

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable. Each business tool discussed above, first appeared on the Service Roundtable, where new sales, marketing, training, and management tools are introduced every week. Give the Service Roundtable at try at www.ServiceRoundtable.com. Membership is only $50 a month, includes access to millions of dollars worth of downloadable, customizable business tools, free membership in the Roundtable Rewards buying group that includes thousands of dollars of rebates (e.g., up to 3% of parts purchases, 5% on major manufacturer equipment purchases, etc.), and access to the HVAC Roundtable where you can tap into tens of thousands of years of contractor and consultant business experience with the click of a mouse. Try it for a month. If you don’t like it, quit. There’s no obligation to stay.

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