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Preventing "Buyer's Remorse"

Okay, you showed up, did your complete diagnostic, got the order, completed the repairs and even sold a service agreement. Things are going well.

That evening, the customer’s spouse comes home from work, reads your invoice, goes through the overhead and calls the office wanting to cancel the service agreement. Bummer.

This scenario is exactly what makes technicians nervous about selling service agreements and "add-ons." How can this situation be avoided?

It begins with proper invoice preparation.

Don't just list one item on a single line because it doesn't look good. I know this is a little on the corny side, but the fact is, the more you write on the invoice, the more satisfied the customer will feel with the amount of money spent. Write a lot on the invoice and tell the story of the call.

Here's an example of what I'd write on the invoice of a "no cooling" call:

"Answered complaint of not cooling. Ran a complete diagnostic. Found bad (describe the repair) and unit in need of cleaning. Has a partially blocked coil, which is the primary cause of compressor failure.

"Consulted with customer on options and prices. Obtained authorization to make repairs as noted.

"Performed complete precision tune-up on air conditioner. Cleaned outdoor coil. Oiled motor. Changed filter. Checked pressures, temperatures, volts, amps, wiring, safeties and overall operation. Everything operating normally at this time.

"Note: Furnace definitely needs cleaning.

"Made a maintenance agreement customer to give lowest rate. Service agreement discounts = $___.

"Will return during the off-season to do precision tune-up on furnace at no additional charge."

Put both the standard price and the service agreement price on the invoice, so it's obvious why buying the service agreement was the cheapest way to go. If the invoice doesn't already have this statement printed on it, write, "Discount pricing is for service agreement customers only."

Now, when the spouse comes home, she or he's got the complete story, and there's no reason to call the office. There's also no chance that you can be accused of selling someone something without them knowing about it, or proceeding with the work without full authorization.

I prepare my invoices like this to reduce the number of inquiries made to the office by the spouse, or a family member who wasn’t present at the time of the service call. Since then, those "after the fact" inquiries and complaints have gone from a considerable number to next to none.

Be sure to write neatly on the invoice. Lots of techs say they don't have good penmanship and can't help it. Yes, you can! How does one learn to write neatly? Practice! That's all there is to it. Everyone knows that people used to have a lot better penmanship in the old days, and the reason for that is people don't take pride in their penmanship and practice it like they used to.

Want to improve your penmanship? Here's a simple exercise: Start drawing a horizontal spiral between two lines, sort of like drawing a spring across the paper. Try to make the top and the bottom of the spiral hit the lines precisely. Keep the spiral tight. Do that once across a sheet of paper every day or so and you'll see your penmanship improve rapidly.

Another step most techs miss is the final walk-through. Show customers the clean blower, furnace, or air conditioner. Tell them how much better the equipment will run now.

After the walk-through, I go over the paperwork simply by reading to the customer exactly what I wrote on the invoice.

Once they've paid me, it's time to leave. My final words are, "You're a family member now. So, whenever you've got a problem, you call me, and I'll come out and take care of it personally, myself."

Provide the spouse with the weapons and sales training they're going to need when their "better half" gets home and asks why they purchased a service agreement. Do your best to make certain they know exactly what they bought, why they bought it, why it was a good decision to make and what a good deal you gave them; and they'll stay sold long after you're gone.

CHARLIE GREER writes a monthly column in Contracting Business, is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," and "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." He's also the instructor of "Charlie Greer's 4-Day Sales Survival School," held every spring and fall in Ft. Myers, FL. For more information on Charlie's products, schools and speaking schedule, or to request his free catalog, visit him on the web at or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822).

This concludes our series with Charlie Greer. If you have comments or would like to see more articles by Charlie, please email us at [email protected].

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