By Paul Mac Donald, UASA Executive Director
When servicers believe that customers choose their service based on price, they generally have low trip fees and hourly labor rates. Chances are they’re delivering a mediocre experience for less than they think they deserve and can afford. To successfully charge more for service, companies have to provide value and act professional while exceeding expectations.
Charging for time spent in the home is a big part of the challenge in securing higher and more profitable service rates. Many if not most appliance service technicians learn their trade on-the-job. Multiyear experience enables senior technicians to make quicker diagnosis and repairs. Something is fundamentally wrong when years of experience results in technicians getting paid less for their skills and service than their juniors that charge more since the same repair takes them longer. Charging time and material for appliance repairs is flawed; it’s also unfair to a business and its customers and prevents charging what an experienced technician is worth.
Flat rate repairs are common practice for many services today and allow service companies to charge professional rates based on difficulty, complexity and exposure to risk. In every case flat rates are higher than charging for the time spent in the home. Service companies that charge by time are leaving money on the table at every service call. Service rates are only part of successfully charging more for service.
Companies that act like professionals, provide value and exceed expectations will succeed in charging more for their products and services.
First impressions are just that and we only get one. What first impression does your service experience deliver? Technicians presenting themselves in clean, professional uniforms driving professionally labeled vehicles by default will deliver a better first impression than those wearing jeans, an old polo and sports ball cap carrying a tool bag that has seen better days.
Using a laptop in the customer’s home to look up wiring diagrams, fault codes and order parts in real-time is cutting edge and communicates professionalism in utilizing new technologies to be more efficient. Service companies using mobile technology deliver a better customer experience from shorter cycle times.
A professional service experience starts with the first point of contact either in person, on the internet or on the telephone.
Time pressed consumers demand the ability to communicate with service providers 24/7. Requesting service should be state of the art and easy to do both on the telephone and on-line. A one man shop can provide a large company impression by utilizing an answering service to take calls when not available or in a customer’s home. VOIP telephone systems with virtual receptionists are low cost and provide a large company experience. Voice mail and call forwarding features allow companies to take professional messages and connect customers to virtual parts departments utilizing a parts suppliers’ 1-800 club for parts fulfilment and additional margins. Equally important is a good first impression on-line.
Websites should be modern and easy to navigate allowing customers to book a service call 24/7.
A professional service company will collect email addresses to send invoices, communicate product recalls and regular informational newsletters to keep their brand top of mind. 85% of Americans search for products and services online with the largest group of users being in the 45 -55 year age range. An effective marketing campaign today includes social media. Service companies today that ignore FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are missing out on a large segment of business. Effective social media will engage customers in what’s important to them and not about how great a company is. This takes a lot of time and often best executed by younger generations.
Set the tone for what the behavior expectation is from your team.
Almost any service techniques used for outside customers apply to “inside customers” as well – courtesy, respect, being on time, doing what you promise to do, being accountable, exceeding expectations and always saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way to looking, acting and talking like a professional service company. If you want to charge professional service rates, be sure to act professional.