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Running Service Step 3: The Complete Inspection

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 three.

Some service technicians are trained to walk into a customer's home, price book in hand, do a cursory diagnosis, whip out the price book, point to the price, and try to close the deal. Then they wonder why they're getting the “price objection.”

The quicker the price comes out, the quicker the “price objection” comes out. Don't present the price until you've earned the right to their business!

When I first arrive on the scene, I leave all sales materials in the truck and only carry in a few light hand tools: a small channelocks, small crescent wrench, a six-in-one tool, a flashlight, a telescoping inspection mirror, a thermometer, and a multi-tool. On air conditioning calls, I also usually have a set of gauges slung over my shoulder.

I go to the immediate problem that prompted the service call and check it out. As soon as I'm certain that I have the ability to remedy the situation, I say, “Okay. I can fix that. That won't be a problem,” thereby putting the customer's mind at ease as soon as possible.

Check both the indoor and the outdoor equipment. When it's a cooling call, it's only normal to check the furnace or air handler. When it's a furnace or boiler call, it may seem a little unusual to check the air conditioner in the middle of the winter.

Say: “I'm going to step out to your air conditioner and make a record of the make, model and serial number. This way, when you call for service on it we'll know what we're coming out to work on.”


  • Do observe the condition of components that have not failed yet and do not require replacement to get the equipment running, but are in poor condition and will, in your professional opinion, fail at some point during the next year or so.

  • Do make every effort to inspect the indoor blower, the indoor coil and the heat exchanger.


  • Don't quickly blurt out the first problem you see, or they may want you to stop your inspection. Keep your opinions to yourself until you've looked everything over.

  • Don't humbly beg for permission to do the inspection. This is a courtesy on your part, it's free and there should be some appreciation on the part of the customer.

  • Don't go into detail on what you're going to do and what you're going to look for, or they'll tell you they don't need it.

  • Don't expect it to do much good if you ask them if they have any other problems they want you to look at. Most of the time, they'll say “no,” despite having an average of three other things that require attention that they've either forgotten about or are unaware of.

  • Don't talk too much.

  • Don't talk to the equipment, your tools, or yourself.

  • Don't force your opinions on the customer. Instead, when you see something wrong, ask: “Are you happy with the way this operates?” or “Does the way this operates bother you?”

  • Don't be “intrusive”.

  • Don't move around too quickly, it makes people nervous.

  • Don't appear anxious to find problems and glad when you do.

  • Don't bring up “code violations” that have been there for years, haven't hurt a thing, and pose no danger. There's nothing wrong with bringing up code violations, in fact, there's everything right about it. Just don't make the fact that it's a “code violation” your whole pitch. People buy benefits; so bring up the benefits of fixing the code violation. Also, you don't want transform from being the wonderful person who is there to resolve their problems to being seen as the “code police”.

  • Don't take all day, but don't worry about time either. This is where you establish credibility and rapport, and discover other needs. The longer your inspection, the higher your likelihood of success.

  • Don't do little “mini-sales pitches” as you go along or they'll hear the cash register ringing in the background and make you stop before you complete your inspection.

  • Don't quote prices as you go along or even bring up the topic of money.

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 E-mail Charlie at [email protected].

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