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The $99 Tune-up Special! A Dose of Reality

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I recently got involved in an online debate about whether “$89-99 Tune-Up Specials” are a good idea or bad idea. Of course, this resulted in quite the discussion among the participants who all seemed to have valid information to back up their beliefs and opinions. I always try to analyze where the behavior and thinking behind why and what causes people to do certain things or think a certain way.

I was very surprised however from some of the comments that several of these business owners wrote in this forum. I will just list them below with a few words changed and of course no names:

  • I tell my guys they are not allowed to leave the house unless they sell a minimum of a $375 repair when we get a call for the $99 Tune-up! I fired a guy yesterday, because he just wanted to repair HVAC equipment and wouldn’t try to sell new equipment on every job.
  • These $99 specials get us in the door to sell, and that is all that matters.
  • We get dozens of calls each day from potential customers and even loyal customers asking if we would offer a $99 special as our competitors do. We try to explain that rarely will you get away just paying $99, it is just a bait and switch gimmick.
  • You low ballers are just destroying the HVAC and plumbing service business with these gimmicks.
  • I’m finally getting my phone to ring all day once I started offering specials, it works!”

Here is part of a debate between obvious competitive business owners in the same market during this whole conversation:

#1 Company talking to #2 Company: I looked at your reviews on one site and you have 556 reviews that are all five stars, everyone knows that is BS! Another site has 310 reviews and all the reviews are two stars or less. Plus, you have a D rating at the BBB. I have an A rating at BBB and my reviews are four or more stars everywhere. Plus, I have loyal customers who come back to me for everything they need. All you care about is just making as much as you can on one visit and to heck with them after that.

#2 Company responding: Who cares about the reviews, so I lose a few customers here or there, it’s just part of business, you can’t make everyone happy. I’m making way more money than I ever did before and I’m a winner and you’re not.

#1 Company responding to #2 Company: Well, we’ve been in business over 32 years for being legitimate and looks like you have only been around for around five or six, let’s see who lasts.

Of course, there was much more to this discussion, but I don’t have enough space for all of it.

My thoughts on all of this . . .

First, if you are running a special of some kind, make it a real special that is something that you really do. I see no problem in making recommendations or pointing out something else that needs attention. But to discredit an employee and fire them, because they do what they know best, repair HVAC equipment, rather than just selling replacement systems, to me there is something wrong. If you cannot make a great profit in doing primarily service and repair, there is something wrong with your methodology of making an income and/or the way you are structuring your pricing or training your employees. There are proven ways to increase profit dramatically without having to use hard selling tactics.

In response to the “Low Baller” comment; if a company wants to go out and do work for free, that is their choice. I would focus on why you are better, or what it is about your company that compels people to want to do business with you specifically, rather than just being the one who is the cheapest.

When it comes to online reviews, there are systems available that will filter reviews and only pass on the good ones to give you the results you want. Okay, so what did you learn from that? What did you get from the reviews that makes you better at what you do as a company? I believe you need to use reviews as a method to determine where your weaknesses are, so that the business may continue to improve rather than searching to find a method to play games with the real numbers.

I’ll conclude this article with this commentary. Most of my life I’ve learned to focus on the goal, never give up, don’t be a loser, make all the money you can, be able to buy nice stuff, and travel anywhere. But, you know, I forgot to enjoy the journey. I was so focused on the final objective that I could not see where I was, couldn’t tell who was around me, and didn’t even notice the wonderful and beautiful things that I happened to pass on the way. So, don’t be that person who forgets about people, loses sight of reality, and disconnects from all that is around you, just to prove something that most of the people in your life don’t care about anyway. Open your eyes, spend some time enjoying your loved ones, try focusing on making other people happy, look for opportunities to help those who may not be as fortunate as you. Have fun during the journey, take the time to look around you and enjoy the right here and the right now. You’ll be happier, I promise.

Frank Besednjak

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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