Running Service Step Seven: The Setup

April 1, 2010
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. Here is installment number 7.

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. Here is installment number 7.

At this point, you’ve completed your inspection and gone out to your truck, decided what services you’re going to recommend, written up your "Paper Towel Close" (as described in detail in the last two installments of this series), and thought about the best way to present your recommendations.

When you return to the house, carry a trip's worth of tools, parts, mats, drop lights, rags, vacuum cleaner, hose, and/or chemicals; anything and everything you'll need in order to do the job, before quoting the price and getting permission to proceed.

Is This Pushy?
You’re not doing this to be pushy. Often, it's expected. Here's what I mean: Have you ever shown up on a call, scoped out the situation, excused yourself to price up the job, and then, when you go to present the price, had the customer ask you, "Is it fixed already?"

This is "old-timey." That’s the way "furnace men" used to work. When I was a kid, the furnace man would come out, and talk very little, if any, about money. He'd fix it and then send a bill.

Occasionally, as you're setting up, customers will inquire, "How much is this going to cost?" When that occurs, stop setting up and do your presentation.

Don’t skip this step when you're certain they're not going to buy. This is not a risk on your part. Being ready to work once you get the go-ahead greatly improves your odds of getting the job. People are reluctant to send you on your way when you're already set up to make the repair. I know that I've made a number of sales in which customers have strongly objected to the price, solely because I was all set up and ready to go.

Tangibles vs. Intangibles
Bring whatever you’re going to sell the customer, be it an electrical component, a motor, a filter, whatever, into the house with you. This converts the sale from an intangible product to a tangible product. In sales, there are two kinds of products -- tangibles and intangibles. Intangible products are things like insurance and investments, and are a more difficult sale than tangible products, such as fan motors. So, make things easy on yourself and show them the product.

You'll be surprised how interested your customers will find some of the most boring, mundane little products that you carry in your truck, so develop a little 10 to 15 second speech on each product.

Location, location, location
Whenever you talk to customers about their equipment, talk about the equipment in front of the equipment. Don’t try to sell cleaning the equipment to a woman at the kitchen sink while she washes her dishes, or to a man while you’re walking alongside him as he mows his lawn.

Calling customers them down to the equipment ensures you have control of the call. Also, the visual aid will help your customers understand what you're talking about. A coil cleaning is an intangible unless it's sold while standing in front of dirty equipment.

If you feel the blower needs cleaning, pull it out and have it sitting next to the furnace or air handler. When a dirty blower is sitting out, as you approach the equipment with them, they'll often ask, "Are you going to clean that?" This takes the "selling" aspect of things completely out of the picture.

No Fear
Don't act like a salesman when quoting the price. Be very matter-of-fact, confident and self-assured (without appearing conceited or arrogant).

Here's an example of how you should act: You know those counter guys at the large auto repair shops owned by the chains? What do they do? They take your information, have a mechanic look your car over, draw up a list of problems, solutions and prices, take you into the garage to show you the problems, and explain why they require attention and the necessity of having it done now, then take you back to the counter and present the price. You usually buy.

My question is, where's the fear? Where's the worry that you're not going to buy? It's as if those issues never entered into their minds.

Did you know that those counter guys are usually salesmen working on straight commission? You'd never know it by how they act, would you? They're not really "selling," or are they? That's how you should act.

Don't question whether or not they're going to buy and don't be timid about things. You didn't cause the problem and you're not getting rich off their misfortune. You can feel sorry for them, but don't be apologetic. There really is nothing you can do for them but solve their problem by fixing their equipment, and you're going to have to charge for it. It costs money to own a house and it costs money to own a furnace, boiler, or air conditioner. It also costs money to run a service company. You've got your problems and they've got theirs. Your money problems are not their money problems and their money problems are not yours. Their money problems (as well as yours) are the result of the decisions they've made to date, and are irrelevant.

Don't forget, you're "The Man." They've got a problem, you've got the solution, and what's more, you're ready to go.

In my next article, I'll tell you what to actually say when presenting the price.

Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," and "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." For information on Charlie's products, visit his website at or call 800/963-HVAC (4822). E-mail Charlie at [email protected].