As I’m writing this article, my wife has only 20 days left of teaching elementary school, and then she is done. I don’t mean done for the summer, I mean done! She is retiring after three decades of being an awesome teacher with many accolades. There are three other teachers from her school retiring this year as well, and they gathered together last weekend to reminisce. They mainly spoke about how things have changed, especially with technology. Ditto machines, overhead projectors, and notes home with the kids quickly became replaced with four color copy machines, Smart Boards, and emails. Yet, with all this tremendous change over the last 30 years, they all agree that nothing could replace the direct personal communication with students, parents, and staff members.
This situation draws a lot of comparison to the HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical industry. I have been training technicians and sales consultants for three decades on the technical aspects of IAQ and how to communicate this technical information in layman’s terms to a homeowner on every single service, maintenance, and sales call. And although HVAC equipment and IAQ technology has changed and improved over the last 30 years, nothing can replace the direct personal communication with our clients, employees, and managers. It is still critically important to build a relationship where everybody benefits!
Without diving into the litany of interpersonal relationship skills, I would like to address the life blood of your business, service/maintenance agreements, and the importance of properly communicating them to employees and customers. These service/maintenance agreements are identified under many names and levels, yet for the purpose of this article, we will simply call them agreements. Just like with IAQ, it takes direct personal communication with your team and your clients to effectively relay the features, benefits, and value of an agreement. My team of trainers and I travel and train all across North America and have had the pleasure of meeting thousands of contractors with many different levels of success and ambition. No matter what size of successful contractor we visit, one of their common denominators is attracting and maintaining an agreement client base. During our training sessions, we always make it a point to touch on the importance of properly communicated agreements to your team as well as to the homeowner.
We stress the importance of agreements during our IAQ sessions because the more agreements a contractor has, the more opportunities their team will have to sell IAQ and other accessories on their annual or biannual agreement visits. Also, having your clients happily involved in your agreement plans is the right thing to do for the homeowner and for your business. The homeowner benefits from having properly maintained equipment by keeping their equipment running at peak efficiency, preventing unnecessary breakdowns and extended equipment life. You benefit by having a steady stream of mailbox money, a true client base to service and market to, and happier satisfied clients, which increases the value of your business.
There is a cause and effect though that relates to these agreements. Those contractors that are highly successful with building an agreement base have several causes that create a positive effect!
Let’s look at the causes that effect the growth of a service agreement base:
- The techs believe that a thorough annual maintenance is beneficial to the homeowner.
- The techs that believe this understand how to effectively communicate these benefits to the homeowner.
- The techs perform a proper thorough maintenance, show the homeowner their work, and communicate to the homeowner what they did, why they did it, what they discovered, and how it saved the homeowner money and extended the life of their equipment.
- The techs believe in this routine so much that they perform preventative maintenance on their own systems.
- CSRs understand and believe in the benefits, can effectively communicate this on the phone to set the stage for the tech, or sell them right over the phone.
- CSRs and techs ask questions like, “Are you paying full price today or are you one of our Diamond Agreement members?”
The effect is demonstrated by more agreements sold to happy satisfied clients. Internally, the effects are having technicians and CSRs that are pleased knowing they are doing what’s right for the homeowner and the business. Team members that don’t live up to these causes simply don’t believe in it.
Building a culture of service that includes the knowledge and importance of agreements and how they can improve the equipment’s performance is imperative to the success, growth, and value of your business. When you are planning your training schedule for your team, make sure that service/maintenance agreement training is a top priority.
During this training, using third party information that validates the importance of a properly maintained HVAC system will help your team understand and believe in agreements. One such third party study that is used by contractors that excel in selling agreements is one sponsored by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, LSU, and Gulf State Utility Company.
Preventative maintenance of residential heating and air conditioning units is known to restore performance capacity, improve comfort, and has been assumed for years to lower utility costs. However, through extensive research of manufacturers, service professionals, and university research studies, it was concluded that no one could provide any information on the magnitude of restoration of BTU capacity, how much comfort was improved or to what extent, if any, utility bills could be lowered. This prompted personnel from the Louisiana Cooperative Extension to develop a residential air conditioning maintenance demonstration to find the answer to the question, “How much does preventative maintenance improve BTU capacity, home comfort, and utility savings?” The results were an average savings of $245 annually in the homes that had annual preventative maintenance performed on their equipment compared to those that did not.
This study certainly validates the need for preventative maintenance, which you can show pays for itself in energy savings along with the other benefits that you build into your agreements.
As a bonus, this all ties into IAQ sales and other accessory sales like intelligent fan control if your techs are properly training on communicating these benefits to a homeowner as well.
An old mentor of mine always said, “There are only three ways to increase sales. Get new customers, get old customers back, and sell more needed products to current customers. And the easiest of the three is to sell more to current customers.” Meaning clients that like and trust you, your employees, and your products and services, will buy more from you!
So having the right cause and effect when it comes to your agreements establishes a client base to market to and visit a couple times a year, and at the same time, builds the value of your business. When properly executed, it will create happy clients with raving reviews and referrals!
Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!