Wednesday, September 9, 2009

24 Ways To Boost Your Average Ticket - Part V

22. Dispatch Service Personnel With Discrimination

Should you discriminate among your employees? Well, not in hiring or promotion with regard to race, creed, national origin or other stupid and illegal means. But do discriminate based on effectiveness and potential.

When I worked for a marketing research and consulting firm, I was stereotyped by the company president. For example, when a metal building manufacturer wanted help, I was the go to guy. I got the construction and high tech clients. I got the clients who made computer chips, but not those making potato chips. Food, fashion, travel, entertainment, and other marketing oriented companies went to other client service personnel who had a better chance of converting the prospects into clients.

As a salesperson, I didn’t like it very much. I felt locked out of the best revenue opportunities. The only way around it was to make myself available when other client service personnel were not. Working late and taking calls when no one else was around helped me land People, In-Style, and Time Magazines. It got me an opportunity with the Oxygen Channel (our first meeting was scheduled on 9/11 - great timing).

I didn’t like being discriminated against. No one does. Yet, I could see the logic behind the assignments. I also knew I had to create and take opportunities to prove myself so I would get better prospects going forward. It made me work harder. It will make your field service personnel work harder too.

Technical field service is no different than marketing client service. If a homeowner with a 20-year old furnace calls in with a no-heat call do you send the next available technician or wait to send a technician who will do the best job communicating with the homeowner about a replacement option as well as the repair option? The answer is, “It depends.”

If the outdoor temperature is 10 degrees, the homeowner’s not going to wait for Ubertech. You need to position someone as fast as possible. That presents an opportunity for the eager, but less polished professional. If he does well when given a good call, he’ll get better calls in the future.

Of course, if it’s early fall weather and the customer has been loyal for years, she might be patient enough to wait for you to send the best guy. Meanwhile, the less polished tech gets another tune-up. Sorry.

So send the plumber who passionately believes in tankless water heaters on calls where a water heater tank is leaking. Mr. Tankless will have more success upgrading the purchase than Mr. Standard Recovery Storage Tank Fan.

Match your field service personnel with the available opportunities that will maximize company revenue. Some contractors hesitate to maximize revenue through dispatching. The most successful do not.

23. Use Props, Pictures, And Diagrams In Sales Presentations

When Lennox Industries introduced the Pulse furnace, it was a dramatic departure from conventional, condensing gas furnaces and carried a huge premium. On the outside, the furnace looked like any other. They were all big rectangular boxes (and still are). Yet, the heat section was very different.

To help introduce the furnace to contractors, someone in the marketing department had thousands of desktop models of the heat section made in a prototype shop. Each was a miniature of the heat section, complete with a blinking light to simulate pulse technology in action. It was a cool desktop toy and that’s where most of them went: to someone’s desktop.

A few enterprising contractors recognized the potential of the model as a sales aid. They used the models on sales calls to explain the differences between the Pulse and other furnaces. The models helped these contractors close more sales, and more high-end sales.

The models were effective because two people out of three are visual learners. This doesn’t mean they can’t learn by listening to the glib speeches of your sales and service personnel, only that most people learn better when they can see props, pictures, and diagrams.

If possible, bring the product into the home to let the homeowner see, touch, and hold it. Plumbers can hold a faucet by the spout and hand it to a homeowner so the homeowner can feel its weight. Plumbers can show homeowners the differences between a faucet sold through the trade and one sold through the retailers (i.e., lots of plastic parts).

HVAC contractors can hold a thermostat or humidistat against the wall for the homeowner to envision. They can cut sections from tubular and clamshell furnace heat sections. They can show a section of a spiny fin aluminum coil, 3/8” copper coil, 5 or 7 mm coil, and or microchannel coil. Cut a filter drier in half and glue clear plastic over it to show homeowners how this protects the compressor.

Electrical contractors can show homeowners the differences in higher quality switches and ballasts with lower end products offered in the big box retail stores. Pest management companies can display rodent bait boxes and traps. Pool contractors can use tile samples, sections of pool filters, and more.

All companies can use diagrams to show homeowners a typical plumbing, electrical, HVAC, or pool systems. Diagrams can also be used to show homeowners the scope of work, such as a pest control technician using a diagram of a home to highlight for a homeowner where he will apply treatment.

Brochures and fliers can help people visualize products that are too large for samples, that can’t be easily shown, or that require action. Examples include termite infestations, dust mites, air infiltration, pool fountains, and so on.

Show people the products or illustrate the service and you will close more sales and sell more add-ons.

24. Pre-frame

Pre-framing is pre-selling. It’s setting the stage. It’s like foreshadowing in a book. Some pre-framing works over the course of a service call. Some takes years. Everyone in your organization should pre-frame.

Your dispatcher, if unable to sell a service agreement, should pre-frame an opportunity for the technician. The dispatcher says, “Mr. Homeowner, after the repair’s complete, would it be okay if I ask our technician to show you how you can save another 15% off today’s work with a service agreement?”

If the homeowner agrees, it’s an open invitation to explain how a service agreement saves money and will likely result in a new service agreement customer.

The technician can also pre-frame. He says, “Mr. Homeowner, here’s some literature about a few products other customers have expressed interest in. Take a look at them. After I finish the repair, would it be okay if I go over these and why they’re a good idea?”

Ask politely and it’s tough to refuse. If the homeowner agrees, he or she is more likely to scan, if not read the literature. The homeowner starts to think about the add-on products and accessories, making the discussion to follow much more natural.

As Ron Smith points out in his book, HVAC Spells Wealth, technicians can always pre-frame forward. The technician sets the stage for future work by noting wear and tear, telling homeowners that they’re going to need to take action in the not-to-distant future.

Pre-framing sets up sales conversations and makes them more comfortable, which is especially important for service personnel who might be uncomfortable with the notion of selling in the first place.

© 2009 Matt Michel

More next time


  1. This is a nice content.. lots of information that can be used by other people, and i agree with you,that discrimination must be based on effectiveness and potential..


  2. Thanks! If you like it, tell a friend.