Running Service Step 4: Never Quote the Bare Minimum

Jan. 1, 2010
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

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 4.

Quoting more than the “bare minimum” on a service call can actually make the job easier to sell. Here's why:

  1. Quoting more than the bare minimum makes the primary repair or recommendation seem like less money

    This is the answer to the age old question, “How do you make $579 to do one simple task 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 $579 instead of $1,600 and feel they got off cheap. Consequently, you've made the sale and kept the customer.

  2. It gives the customer something to say “no” to, and still allows you to conduct business with them

    People need and want options. They want to feel in control of the situation. When you quote the bare minimum, customers have no choice outside of “yes” or “no.” They feel trapped.

    Quoting more than the bare minimum provides them with options. Instead of feeling bad about all the money they're spending, they have an opportunity to turn down a few things and wind up feeling good about not spending it all.

  3. You can use the “add-on” sale as a point of negotiation

    Some techs have a little negotiating authority, others don't. If you've recommended something small that you can tell they'd really like to have, but just can't convince themselves to spend the extra money on, you can occasionally give them a “deal.” You can offer either a reduced price on the “extra” item or, on larger jobs, “throw it in,” if they're willing to make a decision on the spot.

  4. It differentiates your quote

    There's no point in competing with the “bottom feeders.” You can't beat them in price, so beat them in the quality of your offer.

  5. Recommending the “extras” establishes you as someone who's more interested in doing what's in the customer's best interest than in shooting a low-ball price

    Everyone knows you have to “differentiate yourself.” Part of demonstrating your expertise and superior service is by recommending products and services that go beyond the bare minimum.

    You have an obligation to educate customers about their options. Have you ever installed a low-end system, and then had customers complain after the fact that they wish they'd known there were better options available?

  6. “Extras” don't cost extra money

    Extras save people money. Isn't it cheaper to get everything done all at once than it is to have it done on over a period of time over multiple service calls and installations?

    When you explain to the customer that the more you do while you're there, the cheaper everything gets, they'll 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.

  7. Chances are, you'll sell more work on one job

    If you're a service technician who's paid on what's commonly referred to as “billable efficiency,” getting the add-on tasks is where it's at. In fact, the only way to get your pay up to the bonus level is to sell more add-on tasks.

    The more products and services you quote, the more you'll sell. If you never quote them, you'll never sell them.

  8. Happier customers

    A little pattern I've noticed is that the more money customers spend, the happier they tend to be. If all I do is go out there and replace a contactor, the unit still isn't running any better than it did the day before.

    If I also pull and clean their indoor coil and blower, and clean their outdoor coil, they're going to spend more money, but they're going to get much cooler, cleaner, healthier air, and better dehumidification.

    The beauty is, that “extra” cleaning didn't cost them a dime. Sure, they spent a little more money today than they'd planned on spending, but I've also saved their equipment from a premature death and lowered their utility bills. Let's also remember a little detail that is often overlooked in this industry: comfort. In a manner of speaking, they were paying for that extra cleaning (which may have cost $1,000 or so) whether they bought it or not.

    This is a condensed version of this article. For the expanded version, go to

Charlie Greer is an HVAC service technician and the creator of “Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” the video series that provides contractors with a year's worth of short, pre-planned weekly video sales training sessions for their technicians. For more info call 800/963-HVAC (4822) or visit Email Charlie at [email protected].