Editor's Note: Charlie Greer is in the midst of a year-long primer designed to teach you what to do when running service calls, and how to maximize each call in an honest and professional manner. "I'll tell you everything I do; from the moment the call is dispatched, to the greeting at the front door, to closing and handling objections, down to what I do to prevent 'buyer's remorse,'" Charlie says. Here is installment number 11.
Once you've obtained authorization to proceed, you’ll make the necessary repairs and upgrades to their system.
Prior to starting your work, contact dispatch and inform them of how long you'll be on the job. Things often tend to take longer than they should, and dispatch doesn't like it when you take longer than you say you will, so always over-estimate how long it will take. Remember to take into account the amount of time it takes to clean up, properly store your tools, dispose of trash, do your paperwork and consult with the customer at the end of the job. All of that can take a half-hour or so.
Your tools, and the manner in which you store them and use them, speak volumes about you.
Your tools must be of the highest quality you can obtain. Notice, I didn't say they should be of the highest quality you can afford. You can't afford cheap tools. You can't tell your customers that they should buy "quality" when you're not buying quality yourself. Your customers love it when you use high-end tools, and they will comment on them.
I don't carry every tool I own around with me, and I don't carry a tool bag. Weigh your tool bag. If you’re like most techs, it weighs around forty pounds. It's not healthy to carry a forty-pound object around in one hand. It throws off your entire body's alignment and it's bad for your joints. There are technicians who have told me they got a new lease on life (and their careers) when they stopped lugging a tool bag around.
When I first arrive on a "no heat" call, I carry a 6-in-1 screwdriver, a small crescent wrench, and a small channel lock pliers in my pants pocket. On my belt are a small flashlight and a multi-tool.
In my shirt pocket are a pen light, a thermometer, a telescoping inspection mirror, a felt tip pen, a ball point pen, and a mechanical pencil.
If it’s a "no cool" call, I'll also have the gauges over my shoulder; namely because customers love the sight of those gauges. Now, I can do about 70% of what we do on a daily basis.
Keep your tools neatly arranged in a high quality tool box. I prefer the Kobalt tool boxes that have a lot of low drawers. You can get rubber drawer liners that have a slightly tacky surface that will hold everything in place, even when your truck goes around corners. They also off-gas a chemical that protects your tools from corrosion.
Have place for everything and everything in its place. Customers love it when they see a nicely organized truck, and think poorly of you when you don't; and justifiably so. Your truck and your tools are your life's work and your livelihood. You should take good care of them and treat them almost with a reverence.
Take a small, clean shop cloth and spray a little WD-40 on it. Then, every time you use a tool, run it through that cloth. Customers sit there with their mouths wide open when they see me work like this.
When you keep your tools and your truck neat, you take pride in it and feel real good about what you’re doing.
I carry my parts and tools into the job in a five-gallon bucket with a liner and a lid. Yes, I sit down when I work; every chance I get.
Some people say the bucket doesn't look "professional." Obviously, I beg to differ. It's organized and efficient. It looks as professional as it needs to.
Your Work Area
Set your work area up neatly. Lay out clean mats or drop cloths.
Lay your tools on a small mat. Line them up parallel with each other. Keep tools of the same type together.
Lay your parts out on another small mat. Place the part that goes on first closest to the equipment. Lay the part that goes on second behind the first part, and so on.
Keep a small box or bag nearby in which to put your trash as it accumulates.
If you're going to do any brazing, have a fire extinguisher with you. Lay out everything you’ll need to do your brazing right in front of you, in a very neat line.
How much extra time do you think it takes to work neatly like this?
It does not take extra time to work neatly. Working neatly, and having everything organized and within an arm’s reach saves you time.
Don't be one of these techs who can't work without an audience. You don't need to keep the customer involved while you're there.
Don't talk to the equipment, your tools, or yourself while you’re working.
You don't need to keep a running monologue going while you’re working and you don't need to explain everything you're doing to the customer.
Speak as little as possible. Every word that comes out of your mouth is nothing more than an opportunity to complicate the issue and delay you.
Play the role of the strong, silent type.
Don't run, or even walk very quickly. Make no quick hand movements. All of these things make customers nervous.
If you need to go out to your truck and get something, don't knock on the door or ring the doorbell unless you are accidentally locked out.
Quality of Workmanship
Pace yourself. Don't rush. Always double-check your work.
Measure twice and cut once.
Don't leave tool marks on parts.
Don't leave drip marks or make burn marks on anything when you braze. When I solder or braze, I keep a damp rag in one hand. As soon as I'm certain the joint has "taken," I run that rag over the joint in a "shoe shine" fashion. That makes the filler into a perfectly uniform little band around the joint and it looks like it was done by a machine.
When something is supposed to be level, use a level.
Make everything as perfect as you possibly can.
Sign every part you install with your felt-tip pen. Customers are very impressed when they learn you sign your work. It demonstrates you take great pride in what you've done.
Working in this manner can take a customer who was very critical of you into a huge fan and will definitely get you compliments, which really adds to your overall job satisfaction.
Charlie Greer teaches "Charlie Greer's Sales Survival School." The Fort Myers, Florida, session for HVAC service technicians is October 5-8, 2010; the session for HVAC salespeople is October 12-15, 2010. Charlie also conducts sales training at private companies. Complete details are on Charlie's website: www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Call Charlie at 800-963-HVAC (4822). E-mail Charlie at [email protected].