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Processes That Create Success

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I’ve managed hundreds of people in my past who have run tens of thousands of service calls. I came to realized that in order to be successful and bring in the highest amount of margins possible per call, we had to control and decide how the service and sales calls went from start to finish. This is not an easy task. In fact at first it is difficult, but it is possible.

Two years ago, my wife and I decided we wanted to buy a hot tub. We had determined that our budget was going to be $4,000. Because I wanted to make the right decision, I had made arrangements with the hot tub store to actually try out various models that they had on the show room floor.

So, we brought our bathing suits and after we changed, our salesman took us over to a very large, nice looking spa. It was fantastic! This thing had three pumps, fiber optic lights, a stereo system, water falls, and it even had jets that came over your shoulders that would massage your neck in every angle possible. I looked over at my wife and said. Well this one would be hard to beat, I love it. I felt like I was in heaven! At that moment I asked the salesman how much, He says $10,999. Of course I was immediately annoyed and said to him, our budget is $4,000 why would you have us try this? He said that he just wanted us to experience a new spa that just came available.

We then tried some of the tubs in our price range and honestly, they were crap compared to the one we were just in and no way were they even half as nice as the first one. I just was not happy with anything even close to my price range. My wife looked at me and said, “Just get the one you like.” I looked at the salesman and he said, “We have a special one year same as cash program going on now if you are interested.” So of course, what did I buy? The $11,000 tub. Plus I had to throw in another $2,000 for the cover and electrician to wire it up.

Total investment . . . $13,000, $9,000 over my budget!

Am I happy? Absolutely! I knew, once I had tried the expensive hot tub, I wouldn’t be happy with the other cheaper models.

Of course, so did the salesman, that’s why he did it. He knew that offering me, the customer, a great experience would make me understand the value and that it will make the sale! Your customer will not mind spending more if you do the simple things correctly. Personally, I like to set up processes and systems in my business because it reduces the margin of error.

Let’s start with the phone
The way you answer your phone will immediately give your customer an idea as to whether you are highly professional business or a discount service provider. Having real people answer your phone 24/7 is a huge way of telling your potential clients that you are there for them anytime.

Also, the people who do answer need to follow a proper script and know what their main objective is. I did a workshop for a group whose primary responsibility was to answer the phone for a service provider. During the class I asked them all if they really know what their main objective or purpose was when they answered the phone. I got every answer from being friendly to answering customer questions. The real objective of the people who answer your phone is to turn that phone call into a sales or service visit.

In other words. . .Their job is to get you or someone else in front of the customer. This doesn’t happen easily, the people who answer your phone need to know what to say, how to say it and how to act when they are speaking to a potential client. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called a contracting business to have the people on the phone act like I was interrupting their day. There is no reason for that and should not be acceptable in anyway. When someone isn’t friendly to me I automatically reduce the value of anything they offer.

Scheduling the call
I know most service contractors schedule a time span for arrival. In other words you may tell the customer that you will have someone arrive sometime between the hours of 1pm to 5pm. To you this means that the technician will arrive between those hours. However to the customer, this means you will be done and gone by 5pm. Yes, that is why these folks start calling you around 4 o’clock asking where the man is. No matter how many ways you try and tell them, this is what they hear.

My recommendation is to contact the customer if you know no one will be there within the first two hours of the time commitment and tell them it will be sometime after 3 or 4 when someone actually arrives. How can that be difficult? Everyone carries a phone in their pocket and I would be thrilled to hear from someone giving me a more definite time. Remember each positive contact you have with the customer increases your value to them. Communication is absolutely essential to success in this case.

The Visit
Making this go well is critical to making you worth what you charge and whether the potential client thinks you are worth it. First and foremost a professional appearance is essential. I don’t care if you were in a crawlspace, attic, on a roof, or in a garage. Your representative needs to look as if this is the first customer of the day and he or she just got out of the shower and put on a clean uniform.

Now that you’ve arrived on time and look professional. It is important to know exactly what has to be said in order to properly present the highest degree of professionalism. When I was a service manager, I regularly practiced the phone greeting with my phone representatives and also practiced the customer greeting when entering a customer’s home.

So let’s say you were successful and made the repair after the customer agreed to the estimate.

Now that you have their system working and have inspected every aspect of it making sure all aspects of it are at 100%, I recommend you spend some time interviewing the homeowner and taking a tour of the house asking questions about the comfort or noise level in each room. Also bring up the various options to improve the humidity and air quality.

This is not pushing your client to buy something, it is simply a matter of discussing the possible solutions you may have for some of their concerns. When making a recommendation, make it a point to give them various options and scenarios, so they are making the choice and don’t feel like something is being forced on to them. Just as any potential purchase that a person would make, they like to have choices and options. The higher the cost, the more choices and options should be made available.

Never, ever try to offer something to a customer that you would not own yourself. If you don’t believe in it, don’t sell it. Your job is to create a long term relationship with your clients. You can only do this by being totally upfront, confident and honest.

During the process of the interview and building your relationship with the customer, make it a point to let the customer know why you and your company are different from the rest.

For example if you have a drug free workplace policy mention that, tell them you are licensed, and a member of the Better Business Bureau or trade association if you are. Bring up anything that would make you better than the rest.

Saying things like we do quality work or we stand behind our products has no value anymore, because everyone says that. You have to make yourself unique and special.

Also, I’m sure you may have run into a situation where the customer may have had someone out previously and they will challenge you to “beat their price.” Your credibility will go through the roof when you tell the customer “I don’t need to look at what anyone else has recommended, I will give you our best priced recommendation and it may be higher than what you have there, but I can assure you that there is no competition when it comes to the services, warranty, and customer support that we offer at our company. You will definitely see that the value of services we offer cannot be beat by any of our competitors, no matter how low their price is.”

Every once in a while you will get the person who insists that they want some kind of discount after you have already presented your best price. NEVER, EVER, DISCOUNT. In other words you already gave them your best price, so how can you give them a better best price, it’s just impossible. So Don’t do it. If you have someone who just insists on something carry around some gift cards for a restaurant and throw that in if you need to or offer a few months extended warranty, but never cut your price. You will wind up looking like a crook if you do.

Let’s say you didn’t get the sale. Make it a point to get back with them and thank them for meeting with you.

Some people just can’t make a decision unless they spend time thinking about it. I’m that way. Sometimes I need a day or two to decide on a major purchase. Ask the customer when it would be a good time to call them back and schedule it right now when you are there.

I am a firm believer that the experience you present and offer to the customer will determine the value of services that they will pay for. Don’t leave anything for chance; decide in advance how you are going to handle every aspect of your customer interaction. Practice it to be proficient and believe everything you say and do is true. The perception your customer has of you does make a huge difference into what they are willing to pay. So, make it great every time. The experience you offer the customer will determine the value. You can charge more if you offer a great experience. It’s just that simple.

Frank Besednjak

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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