Every contractor wants their customers to have the same experience, no matter which tech runs the call. The only way to do that is to find out what they're doing on calls, and sharing with your team the things they're doing that work, and the things they're doing that aren't working. The only way to find that out is to actually see what they're doing in the field. That means ride-alongs.
One of the quickest and most effective ways to increase the volume from your service trucks is to ride with each tech, then conduct a service meeting on the following day where you photocopy all of your paperwork from that day, hand out a copy to each service tech, and go over the calls you ran.
If you've got no ride-alongs to talk about that day, you can have a few service techs talk about the calls they ran the previous day.
In those types of meetings the agenda is simply for everyone to file in, turn in the paperwork generated since the last meeting and to sit down while you or their supervisor quickly, and in the presence of everyone, review each service invoice, checking for:
- Sales recommendations
- Amount of time spent on the job
- Customers' complete name
- Address and phone number
- Model and serial numbers.
You then pick out two or three of the calls that look interesting, and have the techs tell you what was said and done during the call, from the greeting at the door, to the final good-bye.
Sixteen improvements you see in your company when you begin holding these types of meetings:
1. They'd all be doing and saying the same thing to every customer, which is good.
2. Neater and more complete paperwork.
3. Fewer math errors.
4. The sales procedure would be followed.
5. Peer pressure would probably help to reduce callbacks.
6. More satisfied customers.
7. They'd feel more a part of a team.
8. They'd know the boss in interested.
9. Improved communications between the office and field personnel.
10. It’s a training device for new employees.
11. More accountability all the way around.
12. There would be less time spent on warranty calls, because they'd know you were watching.
13. They'd start returning warranty parts.
14. There would be more sales follow‑ups.
15. You'd have more input from them.
16. Less employee turnover.
Other than the additional truck expense of driving to the shop and the thirty to ninety minutes per week of non‑billable time, is there any reason why you wouldn't want to see if your representatives out in the field are:
- In uniform
- Filling out paperwork properly
- Following sales procedures
- Able to communicate effectively
- Progressing toward their goals
- Aware that you are interested
- Informed of changes?
1. It is not necessary to comment on each call.
Speak only when you wish to offer praise, ask a question, or make a specific comment or suggestion on a given call
2. Move at a quick pace. Don't belabor any one point.
3. Praise any and all sales efforts you see, whether or not the sale was made.
4. Praise experimentation and innovation. When service technicians first get into sales, they do and say all kinds of things. Some things you'll like and some you won't. Some things might get you into trouble. Encourage your service techs to think for themselves and thank them for going to the trouble and trying to help
5. Do not condemn honest attempts to bring you more business that happen to go awry. The harder your people try and the more sales they make, the more mistakes they'll make. Rather than criticize them or fly off the handle, collect your thoughts and say, “Other than that, what else might we have done in this situation?” Turn it into a training experience
6. Feel free to inquire as to why a particular product wasn't recommended when it seems to you it should have been.
7. Give this meeting priority. Your service technicians are your most important “customers.” Canceling meetings with them and keeping them waiting while you're on the telephone tells them exactly where they stand on your list of priorities and gives them justification to ignore you whenever they feel they can get away with it
8. Start promptly, with or without full attendance. There is no better way to encourage tardiness than to wait on late arrivals
9. End promptly. This meeting will have a specific time limit of thirty minutes. That's why no customer should be able to call you away from the from the meeting to the phone. The meeting will always be over in a few minutes anyway
10. Remember that the focus of the meeting is sales. Whatever percentage of time and effort you want your service techs to devote to sales, you devote that same percentage of your time with them on it.
Planning and conducting 52 well-constructed meetings per year may seem a bit daunting. To help, listed below are a number of excellent topics that will take more than a year to cover.
For a professionally produced meeting, you can purchase (or borrow from your local public library) sales-oriented audio books and videos, and you can also download entire courses, and videos. Simply play a segment and hold a discussion on the topic.
My experience is that people don’t necessarily commit to excelling in sales until they’ve gotten their lives in order and have begun setting some long-range career, financial, and personal goals — hence the large number of non-sales related topics recommended for consideration.
Discussion topics could include:
- What is the purpose of a service technician’s job?
- Defining excellence in service sales
- Overcoming the salesman stigma
- Proper grooming for service technicians
- Why should customers buy from you?
- The best and the worst things to do on calls
- How to handle difficult people and difficult situations
- How to maximize your career as a service technician
- What’s good about this job?
- Career options for service technicians
- The raw truth about owning an HVAC contracting firm
- The benefits of doing neat paperwork
- Goal setting for service technicians
- Planning for your retirement
- Planning for your children’s future
- Getting along with dispatch
- Step-by-step procedure for running calls
- Presenting the product and the price
- Selling over the phone
- Selling to landlords
- Selling service agreements
- Upgrading a repair to a replacement
- Overcoming objections: “Your price is too high!” / “I want to think it over!” / “ I have to talk to my husband.” / “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” / “I want to get other bids.”
It's fairly common for contractors to invest in online sales training, or DVDs, and instruct their technicians to take the training at home in their spare time. That's a pipe dream. Furthermore, when you take sales training in isolation, you miss out on the interaction with other trainees, which is invaluable. For instance, others frequently raise issues you hadn't thought of, but were glad someone else did.
If you're going to invest in online sales training, which you probably should, conduct the training in a group setting.
Do not allow management or office personnel to interrupt the training, especially live training, like a Zoom call.
Keep an eye on your technicians and don't let them play with their mobile phones while the training is in session.
Converting your service team to a sales team increases profits, but the benefits go much deeper and are more far-reaching than that. When technicians begin setting their own sales goals, and start reaching them, your life, their lives, and even the lives of your customers greatly improve. When that happens, you’ve done something to improve the entire industry.
Charlie Greer is the creator of “Tec Daddy’s Service Technician Survival School on DVD,” the video series that provides contractors with a year’s supply of short, pre-planned technician training meetings. For Charlie’s speaking schedule, information on his products and seminars, call 800/963-HVAC (4822), visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com or email him at [email protected].