I don't look at the company-wide average. I look at the individual technician. Some techs only sell a service agreement when a customer beats it out of them, and some will convert nearly everyone into a service agreement customer.
What's your attitude?
A lot of it depends on your techs' attitude toward dirty equipment and whether or not they feel it's optional or mandatory, whether or not cleaning equipment is beneath them, or feel they have the time to clean everything up on that call.
I don't necessarily make cleaning the equipment optional. I was fortunate enough to be trained by a person who only had to say to me once, "I don't work on dirty equipment." You're not doing anyone any favors by changing their flame sensor and leaving the blower and indoor coils full of dead skin cells, among other things.
Do your techs honestly believe in the necessity of keeping the equipment spotlessly clean? I do. I did a small study a number of years ago where a group and I first made a list of every type of breakdown we see on a regular basis that we felt were caused by a direct result of a lack of maintenance. We then blindly pulled out 100 random invoices and separated them into two piles: the breakdowns that were a direct result of a lack of maintenance, and the breakdowns that weren't.
To our surprise, 99 of the breakdowns we studied were a direct result of a lack of maintenance.
Let's say this is a "no heat" call. I do a complete inspection before making any recommendations. On a "no heat" call, I always mention to the customer, "I know I'm just here to get your heat back on, but I'm going to step out to your air conditioner to note the make, model, and serial number so that when it requires service, we'll know what we're coming here to work on. I just didn't want you to wonder what I'm doing looking around your air conditioner when I'm here to repair your heat." While I'm out there I'll take a quick look at the condenser coil, which is nearly always at least partially blocked.
I then write up my Paper Towel Close, which would include the service agreement as part of it.
I always talk about the equipment in front of the equipment. The first words out of my mouth are, "Mr. and Mrs. Customer, has no one ever consulted with you on the REQUIRED maintenance on your central heating and cooling equipment?"
I always talk about the equipment in front of the equipment, so I get together with the customer(s) and we'd head on over to their heating system. The first words out of my mouth are, "Mr. and Mrs. Customer, has no one ever consulted with you on the REQUIRED maintenance on your central heating and cooling equipment?" They say no. At which point I say, "That explains it. This breakdown and entire expense is a direct result of a lack of maintenance. At this point, you need a new one of these (pointing out the failed part), this (pointing out some other part) is showing serious signs of wear, and the whole thing needs to be cleaned up."
When we get to the condensing unit, I say, "While I was writing down the make, model, and serial number on your air conditioner, I couldn't help but notice that your air conditioner has a partially blocked coil. Do you know what the primary cause of compressor failure is?"
If a technician truly believes in the value and necessity of maintenance and service agreements, the conversion rate will be close to 100%.
Even a sweet old lady will normally say, "Blocked coil?" even though they night barely know what it is.
I then say, "This is going to require a thorough cleaning as well. I can't do it today because our trucks are all set up for the heating season. But we do have a list of people that we go out and see between seasons to take care of this. Would you like me to put you on the list to receive a reminder?" They tend to say yes.
I then ask, "Would you like me to see if I can get you a discount on this?"
They normally respond with something like, "Now you're talking!"
When I show them the paper towel close, it's clearly apparent that the service agreement isn't costing them anything; it's saving them money. It's very common for me to get a "Thank you," for that.
Bottom line is, if a technician truly believes in the value and necessity of maintenance and service agreements, the conversion rate will be close to 100%, and I'd send that tech on every call to non-service agreement customers I could.
CHARLIE GREER is the creator of "Tec Daddy Service Technician Survival School on DVD," which includes his step-by-step procedure on service agreement sales, upgrading repair calls to replacement sales, overcoming objections, and more. For information on Charlie's products and services, visit www.hvacprofitboosters.com. Email Charlie your comments on this column or questions on salesmanship to [email protected].