Friday, August 14, 2009

24 Ways to Boost Your Average Ticket – Part II

4. Sell Six Packs

One of the classic approaches to boosting your average ticket is to sell packages. The plumbing contractor can approach the restaurant to offer six drain cleanings for the price of five (i.e., a six-pack). The same approach works with pest control, carpet cleaning, pool cleaning, air conditioning tune-ups, sprinkler head replacements, and so on.

Instead of billing by the quarter for pest treatment, pre-sell a year at a discount. Clean the carpets of six rooms for the price of five. Offer a discounted air conditioning tune-up for three years.

Will everyone buy a package? No. Of course not. But some will, especially if the customer believes he will take full advantage of the package and can save money. The advantage to you is the customer is locked up for a period of time and you get paid up front.

5. Create a Checklist of Common Problems

Depending on the neighborhood, type of home, builder, or common area practices, certain problems are likely to be repetitive. Often, these are problem in the making. Let me share an example.

We were at the beach house this summer when a capacitor failed on one of the condensing units. After the technician replaced the capacitor, he asked if we had a drain pan. He then proceeded to explain that whoever installed the HVAC in our beach development neglected to include drain pans.

The evaporator was located in a closet direct above the stairs. If the condensate line ever stopped up, the tech explained, it could ruin the ceiling over the stairs, affect the carpet, and stain the walls. The repair costs could easily run into the thousands and even if insurance were to cover it, we would still be out the deductible and the hassle.

We looked. There was no drain. I told him to put one in. As a consumer, it was a no-brainer.

As a contractor, it’s a no-brainer to alert your customers to common or repetitive problems. The best way to do that is to create a checklist for your dispatchers and your field service personnel.

“Mr. Homeowner, do you have problems with toilet stoppages? I thought so. When this neighborhood was built the low flow toilets weren’t all that good. We’ve got some super toilets now that simply will not clog. If you’re tired of plunging, let me know. Since I’m already here, it’ll save you some money.”

“Mr. Homeowner, I noticed some carpenter ants in a couple of your trees. These guys can do some real damage to your trees and possibly to your home if they infest it. Do you want me to treat the trees while I’m here?”

“Mr. Homeowner, your pool filter’s looking a little long in the tooth and might affect the pump if left unchecked. Do you want me to replace the filter while I’m here?”

“Mr. Homeowner, have you had any problems from lightening strikes? We’ve gone on a few calls around here where ground lightening strikes fried some computer power supplies and TVs. Have you ever thought about a whole house surge suppressor? It’ll add another layer of defense to protect you home. Since I’m already here, it’ll save you some money.”

6. Expand Your Offering

One way to boost your average ticket is to simply boost the number of products and services your customers can buy from you. Air conditioning contractors have long dabbled in the fireplace insert market and many sell stand-by generators. Why not ceiling fans or solar panels or condensing unit covers? For that matter, many contractors fail to offer the full range of conventional HVAC products, such as performance diffusers, geothermal, and zoning.

Many plumbing contractors look down their noses at sprinkler systems. Running a complementary check and offering to replace a few broken heads seems like a simple add-on to other work. Plumbing contractors can also pipe gas for backyard grills. They can offer decorative fountains inside and out.

Electrical contractors could get into the solar and wind turbine business. They can also add home automation, security, and home entertainment wiring.

Pool contractors may have the greatest expansion opportunities of all. Not only can pool contractors continually expand home pools with fountains, water slides, ponds, and so on, but there’s a near infinite amount of pool toys. Plus, pool contractors are in the perfect position to create a backyard oasis, complete with barbecue pits, cooking areas, cabanas, and more.

Pest control companies can do much more than spray and set out rodent bait boxes. They can offer to install squirrel proof bird feeders, vent cages to prevent birds from nesting in dryer vents, and so on.

7. Ask, “Would Like A…?”

Before Ray Kroc entered the picture, the McDonald brothers figured out that asking, “Would you like fries with that?” resulted in add-on sales to three out of ten customers. Okay, you don’t sell fries. What do you sell as an easy add-on?

Washing machine hoses? Water alarms? Extra filters? Pool toys? Outlet insulators? Bug spray? Service agreements?

8. Ask, “What Else Can I Do?”

At the end of every service call, every plumber, technician, electrician, and pool cleaner should ask, “What else can I do for you today?” Then, smile, freeze, say nothing, and wait for the homeowner.

While it’s not quite as good as asking, “Would you like fries with that,” it does hold open the possibility to strike up additional conversations with the homeowner. It only takes a couple of seconds.

9. Offer Upgrades

Southwest Airlines allows up to 15 Business Select fliers to pay $20 to move to the front of the line for a better shot at the airline’s unreserved seating and carry-on space. The $20 also includes a beverage and frequent flier credits.

Southwest’s Beth Harbin said, “We wanted to add value rather than slap on a fee for everyone. But the reason was to boost revenue.”

And it has. Southwest sold $100 million worth of $20 “upgrades.”

How much would your customers pay for the next available truck? Could you offer a $50 service upgrade for a faster response? You could limit the number of available upgrades to the number of trucks in your fleet.

10. Present Replacement As An Option

Field service personnel like to make repairs. It’s why they’re doing what they’re doing. Yet, repairs are not always in the homeowner’s best interest or even desirable by the homeowner. It’s the height of arrogance to plow right in and start on a repair without giving the homeowner the option to replace a product.

“I can rebuild your pool sweep or I can replace it. What would you prefer?”

“What would you recommend,” asks the homeowner.

“Well, I can rebuild it and it’ll work fine… for awhile. But it’s probably going to act up again later this season or next. When it does, I may be able to rebuild it again or you might have to get a new one. With a new one today, you probably won’t have any problems for five years or so. It’s your choice.”

The last sentence is key. It is the customer’s choice. Some customers value their time enough that five years of trouble free operation is reason enough to replace the product. Others may be planning a move in six months and want the lowest cost alternative. It’s the homeowner’s choice, but in order to make it, the technician has to present the option.

11. Present Upgrades As A Third Option

Why not go one step beyond offering replacements as an option. Offer upgrades.

“I can rebuild this faucet, but before I do, I thought I’d give you the option of replacing it or upgrading. You know those new pull out spray faucets are really nice and would look great in your kitchen.”

Instead of repair, offer the option to repair or replace. Instead of repair or replace, offer the options to repair, replace, or upgrade.

© 2009 Matt Michel

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