Letting Go of the Angst of Service Agreements

For the purpose of this article, I would like to define service agreements as any prepaid planned maintenance program whether some parts and labor are covered or not. I believe that most of us rush through these visits and technicians have not developed the skills to make the most of every opportunity.

Let’s look at the sequences of events and strategy for increasing add on sales while fulfilling a prepaid service agreement.

First think about this question: What is the purpose or value to the client of a preplanned service agreement? The value in the agreement is to be proactive toward anything that could cause an emergency service call or breakdown in the future, provide the client with piece of mind about the safety of their family, and to ensure that the client is not overpaying their utility bills. And of course with consistent yearly preventative maintenance the life expectancy of the system should be increased. New systems are very expensive today.

Technicians are not salespeople and they don’t want to be. David Sandler, who built and created the Sandler Sales institute, was not a sales person either. He developed the idea of an upfront contract that helped him with the sales process that was so foreign to him. The basic framework of a good upfront contract is:

  1. Purpose of the meeting
  2. Time
  3. Agenda
  4. Outcome

Watch this short video about Sandler’s upfront contract process.

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’1′ hide_logo=’0′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’0′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cdBrS-vT2U[/responsive_video]

Engaging the client

Technicians don’t like to talk to people but interaction with the client at the door is necessary. If the client is not home we must call him or her in order to frame the process and get agreement from the client. The clients agenda is not our agenda. We are simply another interruption in their day. To increase add on repairs we must take control of the process and define the rules of the service call. This is what Sandler’s upfront contract does. The contract provides structure for the service call process and agreement from the client play by the rules of the game.

I am not a fan of scripts and I never want to talk away a person identity. However, I have learned that most technicians do not have the verbal skills to communicate what I want them to communicate so in order to learn the skill they must learn a script word for word by heart.

Here’s just one example of a script

Purpose of meeting
Tech: Hi I’m Roger. Thanks for letting us come out today. I just wanted to make sure that you know why I am here today. So tell me, what brings me out today?

Tech: How much time do you have?

Their Agenda
Tech: Before I get started, is there anything about your system that’s frustrating?

Permission to state my agenda
Tech: May I share with you what I’ll be doing while I’m here?

Tech: Thanks, I appreciate that. (show gratitude)

My Agenda
Tech: I’ll be checking the operation of all the mechanical systems to make sure that we don’t have any problems with a breakdown in the future. I’ll be double checking everything that has to do with safety and I’ll also be doing a thorough cleaning of the system so you are not overpaying your utility bills.

I don’t expect to find anything wrong but if I do see something that concerns me, I would like to bring it to your attention and then you can tell me what to do about it. How does that sound? (get agreement)

Tech: Great, I’ll get started. I don’t expect to find a concern but if I do I’ll let you know.

If you’ll notice, the script communicates gratitude. I want to ask the client for permission to move forward because I need them to invite me into their world so they will listen. Never bulldoze through a script. Be respectful, engage the client and wait for them to allow you in. This is simply a loop of communication and when it’s working it will feel like dancing, not wrestling.

When a solid upfront contract is agreed to, you now have permission to bring up concerns if you find them. Fulfill the service agreement obligation and perform the work in a professional manner. Take your time and do a great job. Do you remember why you arrived? It is for reliability, performance and safety concerns.

Let’s pretend for the sake of example that you find a weak capacitor in a condensing unit but the system is operating fine. Go to your truck and build an option sheet of at least five options that solve your concern plus much more.

This requires you to think differently. Think about the heating and air system as being of a lot of other smaller systems that are connected to each other. If one part of a system breaks the entire system breaks.

What does a capacitor do? What system does the capacitor work in? Is it part of a voltage system? The capacitor adds voltage and stores voltage kind of like a battery. The contactor is part of that system and so are all the wires and connections and other parts related to allowing the voltage to circulate out in the condenser. Could we rebuild that entire voltage system to restore it and make it like new? Sure we could. If we did that, would it make the system more reliable? Sure it would. Could we make it better than it was when it was manufactured? Sure we could. Does all this need to be done? No! But it’s not about need, it’s about wants. A client may want all this extra reliability and performance. You may think it’s a bunch of crap. I tell you I have seen clients who love it and write rave reviews afterwards.

Okay now. Keep thinking differently. Stay with me. Could we make that part of the system better or enhance its performance? Sure we could. We could add a hard start kit and solid state contactor. This would make this part of the system higher in performance than when it was new. Does all this work need to be done? No! Do you need that fancy truck with all the options? No! Why did you buy them? Because they offered them to you and you wanted them.

Stay with me. Would you be willing to give this client a better warranty if they would allow us to come back in a year to double and triple check that nothing is breaking and everything is holding? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Let’s build our sheet pretending that we have a concern with a contactor that is weak and will probably fail on a hot day. The prices are just an example, not intended for you to model. You should know what you charge for these things based on your cost and net profit goals.

Option Sheet

Top option. Total system rebuild with performance enhancements and one year inspection.
[two_third_first]Hard Start Kit[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]
[two_third_first]Solid State Contactor[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]
[two_third_first]New capacitor, wiring and connections[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]
[two_third_first]One year inspection of work[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]
[two_third_first]Two year warranty[/two_third_first][one_third_last]$1200[/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Next option[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Same as above with no inspection[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]1 year warranty[/two_third_first][one_third_last]$1000[/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Next option[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Same as above with standard contactor[/two_third_first][one_third_last]$750[/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Next option[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Same as above with no hard start kit[/two_third_first][one_third_last]$500[/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Next option[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Same as above with no new contactor[/two_third_first][one_third_last]$375[/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Bottom option[/two_third_first][one_third_last][/one_third_last]

[two_third_first]Capacitor only[/two_third_first][one_third_last]$275[/one_third_last]

Above was a simple example of how to build a menu. We all purchase from a menu. That’s how I buy and that’s how you buy. That’s why McDonalds’ average ticket is much higher than what one hamburger cost. They bundle things together and we by them. The same thing happens when you buy a car wash and the same thing happens when my wife gets her nails done. We have to read the menu and make a choice.

If a technician simply fills this out and asks the client to read it, they will pick what they want and your average ticket will probably go up about $100 to $150 if you just let people read and start making their own choices.

About the author, Roger Daviston

Roger Daviston is a personal growth consultant who gets measurable results. He facilitates and encourages individuals to change behavior and make different choices to achieve better outcomes.

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