You Work Hard to Win a Customer – Don’t Lose Them over Fees
When an air conditioner or furnace breaks down, the homeowner is immediately concerned. What will it cost to get it fixed? Will I have to run up a big charge on my credit card or will I have to forget that weekend get-away? You’ve won half the battle; they give your company a call! Now, don’t lose the sale over fees. Here are some that can be deal breakers.
Trip Charges. Just about everyone who works has to get to their place of business and no one pays them for that drive. No wonder they question your charges if they include a trip fee. They’re wondering why they should pay you just to show up. After all, their home is where the work is. This can be a deal breaker.
Gas Surcharges. Homeowners are getting hit just as hard at the pump as you are when gas prices hit new highs. You may need to charge a fee to cover the extra costs you are incurring. Be sure to explain it to your customers and make it fair. Someone who is just miles from your location will probably be unwilling to pay a fee that is the same for someone 20 miles away. Consider a map of your service area with concentric rings flowing out from your location and a set gas surcharge cost for each ring. When you have initiated a surcharge, be upfront and explain it to your potential customer when they call for service. Be sure to drop it when gas prices fall again.
Diagnostic Fees. It’s acceptable to charge a diagnostic fee if you don’t get the job. Customers need to understand that calling for service is NOT calling for a free estimate. However, if you get the job, a diagnostic fee just doesn’t make sense. The first step in fixing a problem is finding the problem. No one wants to pay extra for it. If you have a minimum charge, be upfront about it and let the customer know at the time you answer the phone.
Overtime, Weekends And Holidays. This is a tough one. Markets are starting to see HVAC companies who do not charge extra for working outside of normal hours. This is a great selling point for the customer who has had their furnace quit working on a cold Thanksgiving holiday or a family who comes home in the middle of summer on a Friday evening and find the A/C has conked out. When it comes to personal comfort (and even personal safety), when heating or cooling quits functioning and it’s very cold or very hot, that’s an emergency. It’s also a cost you’re going to have to figure out how to handle. If you’re available 24/7 every day of the year, you need to know how you will charge your customers for evening, weekend or holiday work. Make your customers aware if your rates change during these times and what you will charge.
Costs for HVAC Services can be problematic. The customer is concerned about price the minute they know they have a problem. They want to know what it’s going to cost. But, it’s hard to estimate a cost before you know what the job will entail. Be honest about your charges. If you avoid surprising your customer, they are more likely to feel satisfied. Look at your business model and decide what fees you need to charge and what is a fair price for your services, whether you work by the hour or on a flat fee basis. Remember, customers aren’t just looking for the lowest price; they’re also looking for expert service. Be willing to explain your charges in advance and be sure to also mention the benefits of using your company. You can make the sale!