Some customers will not understand why a professional diagnosis is necessary if they believe they already know the problem. We must be able to explain to the customer – without insulting them – they are not the diagnostician, but as the professional service company, we are best suited to diagnose the problem and the possible reason for the problem.
The customer sees the condenser fan motor is not running. The customer then calls for a technician to come out and replace the motor.
The consumer mindset is if the technician only replaces the motor, the system would work again. They might even go to a website and figure out an anticipated cost for the motor. Then when you want to charge them more than that anticipated cost, they think your company is overpriced.
The way to deal with this customer is to respond something like: “Yes, we can come out and replace your motor, but we want to check to assure that the motor is indeed burned out, and the only problem. Many times, though, the cause of a motor burning out is a blade that is out of balance or a bad capacitor. We check the whole system to keep you from having problems down the road.”
If the customer wants a price over the phone after this explanation start using your technical knowledge to ask questions such as the motor RPM, efficiency rating, capacitor size since it should be replaced, frame size and rotation.
Create a list of technical questions for your office staff for common repairs customers ask for phone pricing such as motors & blowers, gas parts and compressors. Callahan Roach is happy to help you with these answers to combat phone shopping.
Another good way to explain is to compare your services to a visit at a doctor’s office. If you call your doctor with a cold and ask for a prescription over the phone, the doctor will require you to come in for an office visit because “a prescription without a diagnosis is malpractice.”
Your medical professional does not want you to do your own doctoring, and you should not want your customer telling you how to service their heating and cooling equipment.
If you put yourself in the consumer's situation when they call, often they are simply looking for a price because they have never encountered the issue before. If you provide a price over the phone, you are getting yourself into a bidding war with competitor who is always willing to do service for less. Trying to compete against the low-dollar service provider will never be successful for your business long term.
As we said earlier in this handbook, 30% of service industry business shutter their doors every year because they did not charge enough. So, why do you want to compete with them?
To avoid a bidding war, you offer to take diagnostic look over the issue. The fee should be competitive but non-negotiable.
We are not in business to sell our labor like a pound of beef in a supermarket, which can be shopped by the price. We are selling our expertise, in-home service, technical factory training, well stocked vehicles and our parts and labor warranties.
Try to never quote a repair price over the phone. We don’t just quote for “What’s obviously broken” because they possible contributing factors that, if not addressed, could result in another failure. Say something like “If we do not inspect the whole system, we may quote a price over the phone that only covers part of the investment (use that word, not cost or price)
needed to make to return your system to peak performance, leaving you with more unexpected repair expense.”
If a customer is adamant about getting a price over the phone, then give them a budget by using the lowest price in your flat rate for that type of repair to the most expensive price and pad the higher price by however much you are comfortable with.
Remind the customer that if they woke up with symptoms of a cold no doctor will write a prescription for medicine without first seeing the patient and testing vitals, examining the patient and reviewing your medical history. This is an analogy that most customers can relate to. Using the life-altering COVID-19 pandemic you could also remind the customer that no doctor would diagnose a person as having this virus without a test, which requires seeing the patient at the office or at a testing facility. A prescription without an office visit is malpractice.
If the term “Diagnostic Charge” is receiving resistance in your market, then experiment with the term, “Thorough System Evaluation” or you can select another term that implies more is done than simply giving the customer an estimate.