Friday, August 28, 2009

24 Ways to Boost Your Average Ticket – Part IV

17. Label A Product/Service Bundle “Best Value”

An Internet service provider (ISP) is currently running an ad where the homeowner calls a plumber about a bad garbage disposal. The plumber responds, “Bring your sink on in. I’ll take a look at it.”

The notion of bringing your sink to a plumber’s shop is clearly ridiculous, but it heightens one of the key differences between in-home service companies and fixed location retailers. We go to the homeowner, not the other way around. Moving people, trucks, tools, parts, and equipment from the shop to a homeowner’s location is a significant part of the cost of service, repairs, and installations. It stands to reason that the more things we can do after positioning the people, trucks, tools, parts, and equipment at the home, the more efficient we can be and the more the homeowner can save.

We can encourage homeowners to do hire us to do more by bundling products and services together for a discount. The homeowner pays for the cost of logistics with the first repair, allowing us to discount additional work and assemble bundles.

Point out the savings from the bundle by labeling the bundle as the “best value,” which it is. A simple way to accomplish this is by printing a page of the stickers and simply, peeling and sticking them on existing invoices, literature, proposals, etc.

Best Value Sticker
Courtesy of the Service Roundtable

18. Market Additional Services On Your Invoices

Invoices are presented at the end of a repair. This is often a point of relief for consumers. The repair is over. The total is known (even if the repair is flat rate, it’s still the source of relief).

With the anxiety of uncertain expense known and the work completed, homeowners are open to the consideration of additional products and services. The invoice represents a great place to market them.

Stop thinking of invoices as mere “work orders” or “forms.” They should be marketing pieces. They should be “designed” with the consumer in mind, not the technician. Make them attractive. Spend a few cents more to add color. Give invoices life with images of people (i.e., your target demographic).

Add promotions for common accessories to you invoices. Sometimes these can be as simple as check boxes for system accessories that make it easy for the technician or plumber to talk about add-on sales opportunities. He’s required to discuss these because he’s following a procedure and checking it off as he goes.

Build-in coupons for savings on the spot. Add bounce-back coupons to encourage homeowners keep the invoice on file and call you back in the future.

If you’re sitting on a stack of 20,000 invoices you purchased for the bulk savings and can’t bring yourself to discard, follow the sticker approach. Print stickers with special offers or bounce-back coupons and add these to the invoice.

Ultimate Service Invoice
Courtesy of the Service Roundtable

19. Offer A Performance Guarantee For Top-Of-The-Line Equipment

When selling top end equipment, such as a salt water pool system, rapid start light ballast, tankless water heater, or high efficiency furnace, guarantee performance. For example, you can guarantee that a furnace will heat the home to 72 degrees when it’s 10 degrees outside (or whatever your winter design temperature happens to be).

What are you really guaranteeing? Nothing. You’re simply guaranteeing that you can size a furnace. If you’re selling furnaces and can’t size them, maybe you should find employment in another field.

Why guarantee something basic, like performance? You make the guarantee because your competitors are afraid to match it. I don’t know why. I’ve never met a contractor who wouldn’t pull an undersized furnace and replace it with a higher capacity model if the salesperson blew the load calc. If you’re going to do it anyway, put it in writing and take credit for it.

By limiting the guarantee to top-of-the-line equipment, you’re encouraging nervous homeowners to step up. It’s a better product. It carries better guarantees. It’s a safer purchase.

Comfort Guarantee
Courtesy of the Service Roundtable

20. Offer An Unconditional Money Back Guarantee For Top-Of-The-Line Equipment

Similar to a performance guarantee is a money back guarantee. Offer to give the homeowner a full refund for any reason within the first year.

The most telling fear I hear from most contractors is that a homeowner will price shop after the fact and demand his money back because another contractor will perform the same work for a few hundred dollars less. Let’s assume that happens. What’s involved from the homeowners’ perspective?

Someone must come out and remove the water heater, pool filter, furnace, or air conditioner, leaving the homeowner without the products until the competitive contractor arrives with the replacement and can perform the installation. This is a LOT of trouble. A homeowner must have near unlimited time and patience on his hands to go through two back-to-back replacements.

Experience suggests it’s the rare homeowner who demands a price driven removal. Hundreds of air conditioning contractors have offered this guarantee on thousands of installations each. Many have never been called upon to honor the guarantee. The few times any have had to pull a unit and offer a refund, the contractors would have done the same thing regardless of the guarantee. In these instances the customer was:

  • Either mad enough to sue, making removal and refund cost effective, or

  • The customer came from Hades and it was worth nearly any price to send him back.

In either case, the contractor would have acted no difference without the guarantee, so why not put it in writing and take credit for it? You’re not promising anything you wouldn’t do anyway, but you are making a promise you competitors will fear to match.

Limiting the unconditional money back guarantee to top-of-the-line products gives homeowners one more benefit from buying up. Think about it, enough people buy extended warranties from consumer electronics companies that their sales personnel keep offering them.

People pay directly, out-of-pocket, for peace of mind alone. How much more valuable is greater peace of mind when coupled with better performing products or products with more features?

Unconditional Money Back Guarantee
Courtesy of the Service Roundtable

21. Prioritize Calls By System Age

Two calls come in, nearly simultaneously. Call A is a no-cool call from a homeowner with a five year old air conditioner, that’s just out of warranty. Call B is a no-cool call that comes from a homeowner in a 15-year old home who is unsure of the age of the air conditioner, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was the original from the time the home was built.

You’ve got one truck available, equidistant from the location of Call A and Call B. Which call gets priority? Obviously, Call B.

Call A probably represents a bad capacitor, bad contactor, low charge, or some other issue that will result in an average or below average revenue call. It’s good work and you want it, but not as bad as Call B.

With Call B, there’s the potential for a more serious repair, possibly one that necessitates a full system change out. It might result in thousands of dollars of revenue.

But what if Call B comes in one hour after Call A? You should dispatch in order the calls were received. And homeowners should only call one company.

In reality, many homeowners will call half a dozen contractors to see who shows up first. The rest are cancelled, whether en route or not. In this environment, I’m going to chase the call with the greater potential first.

Let’s complicate it further. What if Call A is a service agreement owner’s home. They’re promised priority service. And they should get it. Service agreement owners should get priority over any other customers with similar revenue potential. Put Call A ahead of all non-service agreement calls on systems less than ten years old, but not ahead of Call B.

Create a priority board or rating system to aid dispatchers in prioritizing calls in such as manner that you will maximize revenue, resulting in the highest per call average.

© 2009 Matt Michel

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