Service agreements can be the cause of considerable frustration. We price them low, and if we don’t upsell anything, we are lucky to break even. This angst that clients feel as well as workable solutions are addressed in this article.
A maintenance technician on the East Coast is following the below strategies, and by the end of October 2019, he had sold and installed $210,000 worth of accessories. That is an average of $21,000 per month. He runs only 5% trouble calls because he is learning service and how to repair things. However, he is profitable and valuable, having learned the strategies outlined in this article.
Learning on the course
I was a scratch golfer in high school, and I read a lot of magazines about how to swing and put. My dad also hired amateur golf great Elvis Larkin to give me lessons and watch me play. My point is that you can’t learn how to upsell by reading a book any more than I could have learned how to become a scratch golfer by reading Golf Digest.
Upselling is a frustration for owners, technicians and even clients. In this article, taken from my book Blueprint: The Angst of Service Agreements (and How to Change It), we’ll remove the frustration from upselling.
Revenue declines in mild weather
A frequent complaint I hear from owners is that they wished their techs would upsell during the service agreement fulfillment. As a former HVAC company owner, I know the fear that comes with mild weather. I’ve been there, and I recall many sleepless nights worrying about making payroll on Friday as revenue tanked. These thoughts and conversations would swirl around my head:
* Techs hate selling
* Clients hate to be sold
Further, I heard technicians complain about being pressured to upsell. They don’t like to upsell, and they don’t want to upsell. Clients don’t like to be upsold. Do you?
As an external consultant for HVAC companies, I ride along with technicians, and homeowners are often curious about my role. When they ask, I’m happy to share my experiences.
In the words of one homeowner: I’m so glad. Every time you guys come out to my house, I feel like the technician has just come out of a sales class and is always trying to sell me something that I don’t want or need.
However, this brings us to a dilemma. If we don’t upsell, how do we reach our goals for profit? Service agreements are not profitable without the upsell, right?
Invitation vs. selling
Service agreements present an opportunity for additional revenue from working systems. Nevertheless, apply this approach with caution.
How do you act without appearing self-serving? Invite the customer to have a conversation about the concerns you’ve noticed in the property. Resist selling and do not push. Bring the concerns to the customer’s attention assertively, not aggressively. The keyword is invitation. Invite the client to a conversation and respect their right to say No.
Bridge the conversation
Manufacturers place their products in Big Box stores so customers can see them. During a service agreement call, we want clients to notice our products, like in a Big Box store, and this comes through conversation. We make customers aware by inviting them into a conversation, but only if they want to. Here are some areas to highlight once invited into a conversation:
* Aging Water Heaters
* IAQ (Duct Cleaning, Filters, Mold Issues)
* Duct Sealing
* Wi-Fi Thermostats
* Solutions to problems that concern the client
What to do
Avoid self-serving attitudes, and do not push yourself on people aggressively. This approach does not motivate technicians and it drives customers away.
Receive permission. Do not present to the client without permission and respect their right to say No. Learn the skill of getting customers to move toward you, so they hear your message.
Focus on the task at hand. Do not ask for permission to talk about accessories until the task you came to complete is done.
Create a mindset of humility, gratitude and patience. These are spiritual principles that help people gravitate to you.
Two helpful statements
Here are two statements you should remember and use:
* ” It’s up to you.”
* “You’d only want to do this if _______.”
Do not push people. Relax and allow the customer to exert their authority in the matter. Ask for a Yes or No but remain neutral and avoid willing, shaping or manipulating the customer to say Yes.
The principle is that you have to allow things–successes, opportunities–to come to you.
If a person is resisting your message, don’t push to convince them. Logic and eloquence won’t assure the customer either. At the end of the day, words used to overpower someone have no power at all.
Using the assertiveness model, you can bridge to HVAC accessories and learn how to ask for what you want. Here is an example conversation:
Mrs. Jones, have you got a place where we can sit down and go over what I saw on your property? (Direct request for what you want.)
Your system is working fine, and I don’t see any concerns with its reliability, safety or efficiency. You’re good to go for another season. However, I did notice something that I’d
like to bring to your attention. Is that okay? (Wait until you get permission.)
I looked up your water heater serial number online, and it says that your water heater is 12 years old. It is working fine and looks to be in good shape, but water heater tanks only last about ten to fifteen years. When the tank fails, it does one of two things. It can leak by dripping water on the floor, and when you notice it, you can call us. Or, it can fail and gush water until you turn the water off, which can cause significant water damage and result in an insurance claim. The average insurance claim for water heater failure is about $4,800.
(If you don’t agree that water heater tanks fail between 10 and 15 years of age, use the number that you believe in. It’s important to be congruent, which means your outside
behavior matches your inside feelings.)
I feel that when a water heater reaches this age, it is prudent to consider being proactive and replace it before it leaks or fails. (Express how you feel honestly.)
Ask for what you want
Would you like to have a conversation about replacing your water heater before the tank fails? (This is an invitation to have a conversation about considering being proactive. If they want to be proactive, this usually leads to a logical question: How much is a water heater?)
Benefits or consequences of granting your request
You can avoid the possibilities of a leak, or even worse, a tank failure, which could cause water damage to your home. Do you want to wait until that event occurs and be reactive at that point? It’s your decision. Let me know what you’d like to do.
What do we want? What are we asking for? We want Mrs. Jones to tell us Yes or No to an invitation to talk about being proactive. We are not selling. We are not willing, shaping or forming her to do anything. We invite and wait for her to decide. It’s as simple as that.
Remember, Mrs. Jones is a loyal client who trusts us, and she has the right to say No. We should respect and honor her decision. An assertive mindset honors the other person. If she says No, that’s fine. However, it is your responsibility to ask assertively.
Be sure to use the DESC (Describe, Express, Specify and Consequences) model to build other scripts for other issues that concern you; have a different script for each situation. Don’t wing it, and execute the scripts with professionalism.
Three important points to finish up:
1. Learn the script word for word
2. Learn the script word for word
3. Learn the script word for word
From my 22 years of experience
Reading my Blueprint and executing it in the field is like learning to play golf by reading Golf Digest. Few people can take what they read and implement it with success. However, reading and studying is part of learning. Personal growth and development takes time and repetition, reinforced with coaching and accountability. We will discuss my Blueprint and small steps you can take to be more successful in the next article. ICM