Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog
For the savvy contractor, the service call is the foundation of their contracting business. Managed properly, serviced calls are not only profitable but can be the catalyst to grow other areas of your business.
So here are 10 tips to make service calls as productive and profitable as possible.
1. Return call or email as soon as possible
The first step to making service calls profitable is by answering the phone or returning voicemails and emails promptly. The biggest complaint by customers is that nobody returns their calls. Without boring you with the details, study after study report that whoever answers/returns the call first can expect to get the job over 36% of the time.
2. Get as many details as possible
Be prepared to ask a series of questions to clarify the problem. Doing so will help to determine the urgency of the situation, allowing you to allocate sufficient time to bring along any specialized tools or parts you may need. Whenever possible, your objective should be to fix the problem on the first visit. Running around looking for parts is never profitable.
3. Leave time in your schedule
Many contractors are guilty of overbooking their technicians to maximize revenue. But often, this has the reverse affect by impeding your ability to accommodate emergency calls that would otherwise go to your competition. However, by leaving the last hour of the day unscheduled, it allows you to be available for those urgent calls or to complete those jobs that required unforeseen parts.
4. Be on time
Be early or be on time, but don’t be late without calling. One practice I find of value to customers is to phone them 30 minutes before you arrive. By respecting their time, they know they may be able to finish a small chore before you arrive. It also quietly reaffirms their decision to call you as calling ahead is a very professional thing to do.
5. Be presentable
No one expects a technician to show up in a suit and tie, however, they do expect them to look presentable. That’s why a standard company look should be enforced i.e. Logoed shirt, etc. Also, it’s never a bad idea to keep a backup shirt at the ready just in case things go sideways at a previous call.
6. Be prepared
If you took the time to get as many details as possible when the customer called, you should have a pretty good idea of what tools you need. So when you go to the door you should have everything you need. This includes boot covers, floor runners if necessary and tools. Running back and forth to the vehicle is a waste of time and time is money.
7. Be pleasant
Regardless of what kind of day you’re having, when the door opens, make sure you smile and then introduce yourself. This simple act of smiling can put the customer at ease and establish a good first impression. That’s a pretty good return for the price of a smile.
8. Review the Repair with Customers
Many contractors have been trained to get in and out as fast as possible so they can get to the next call. Being efficient is one thing but rushing risks leaving money on the table. Once you’ve completed the work, review the repair with the customer to ensure they understand what you did.
This is also the perfect time to engage the customer in order to uncover any opportunities, such as upcoming renovations. Additionally, asking permission to do a quick whole house check may uncover a looming problem. i.e. leaking tap, overdue furnace maintenance, etc. Also, it never hurts to remind them of all the services you provide, don’t assume they know.
This is also a good time to leave a business card and ask for referrals as well as let them know that you’re available should any friends or family need your services.
9. Get paid
Other than some commercial accounts, all work should be paid in full upon completion. It’s easy to go from “Hero to Zero” once the work is done. Everybody is used to prepaying or paying at the end of the job. Don’t tell them you’ll invoice them later. You risk running around trying to collect only to end up with bad debts.
10. Follow up
Following up with customers within a day of the service call reinforces your professionalism. It also lets you uncover any potential issue with the work you did before it becomes a problem. Ideally, this should be a phone call, but an email can also work.
Maximizing the opportunities presented by service calls doesn’t require a lot of effort. Being organized, conscientious, respectful, pleasant, and friendly doesn’t cost, it pays.
Greg Weatherdon is a business advisor to HVAC & Plumbing contractors, author of Get More LIFE Out of Your Business and producer of The Small Business Minute Podcast available on all major platforms including iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Visit www.gregweatherdon.com for more information.
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