Turning your field service techs into money makers….

BY: Julie Crisara

We take a look at some of the advice of our good friends at TheSmartVan.com on how to start seeing clear revenue streams from service techs.

To begin, Sean Lydon, begins by outlining three top tips for gathering refferals from your field service engineers.

Service techs, writes Sean can be a company’s biggest referral booster — or loser.

On the front lines, they are best-positioned to garner new business. But while they undergo rigorous technical education, they often aren’t given sufficient training in the softer “people skills” that earn referrals.

So what are Sean’s three top tips for earning more revenue from service?

PREPARE THE CUSTOMER FOR A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE — BEFORE THE CALL

Keith Lowe, co-founder of Conditioned Air Solutions, a 28-person heating and air conditioning company in Huntsville, Alabama has a pre-service call tradition that he says gives customers a feeling of transparency and prepares them for a great experience: He e-mails a picture and bio of the technician to the customer before the call.

It adds a personal touch and lays the ground for a great service call, he says — and that’s the first step to generating repeat and referral business.

TRAIN YOUR FIELD SERVICE TECHS TO COMMUNICATE

When customers feel at ease with a service tech — an experience they don’t usually expect from technicians — they are more inclined to share that positive news about your company with friends. How to create that comfortable environment?

“When you first arrive, introduce yourself in a professional manner, smile, and announce that you’re there to fix the problem,” says Sally Mounts, PhD, president of  Auctus Consulting Group, a management consulting firm near Pittsburgh,

“People are not used to empathic technicians who are adept at communicating. If you are [that technician], you’ll be seen as extraordinary.

“Explain how long service calls usually take, since no one really likes having strangers in their homes.  Ask if they would like you to leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking on their floors. While you are working, be friendly and open. Ask if they would like you to explain what you’re doing and why.”Adds Mounts: “People are not used to empathic technicians who are adept at communicating. If you are [that technician], you’ll be seen as extraordinary.”

ASK FOR REFERRALS

Even the most enthusiastic customers may not send referrals. Why? Nobody’s asked them.

Lowe, of Conditioned Air Solutions, says he holds technicians accountable for asking for feedback and referrals. His company uses ReviewBuzz, an online reputation management application, which he says makes it easy for his customers to post feedback on multiple review and social media sites, such as Google Places, Yelp, and Facebook, in a single entry.

“Before they leave the house, our technicians are to hand the customer our ReviewBuzz card with the technician’s name on it, and say something like,

‘Would you mind going onto this website to give me a review and let me know how I did? I’d really appreciate it,’ ” Lowe says.

Then explain that referrals are the lifeblood of any successful business, and ask if they know anyone who could also use your services. Ask if you can use their name in your referral call.”

For those who don’t have a system like ReviewBuzz, Mounts offers this advice for techs:“After completing the project, explain what the customer can do to prevent [the issue] from happening again. Give them your business card and tell them to call you personally if they have any problems in the future.

Then explain that referrals are the lifeblood of any successful business, and ask if they know anyone who could also use your services. Ask if you can use their name in your referral call.”

Of course referrals are one thing but what about putting your field service engineers in a position where they can also directly sell. Whether it be upgrading SLA’s or supplementary items leveraging a field service engineer’s trusted advisor status to secure further sales is a solid strategy but not many service techs have a background in sales; they may not even be big people people to begin with.

So how can you train your repairmen, installers, and supervisors — these product people — on the soft skills of up-selling?

In this second feature Ian Stewart came up with a few simple tips you can start using (or reinforcing) right away to boost both your field engineers confidence, and their sales numbers.

KNOWLEDGE IS YOUR BEST TOOL

Whether they know it or not, field techs have a powerful tool on their side that even some very good salesman don’t: intimate product knowledge. And that gives them credibility — something a salesman very seldom has.

“Once the customer gets that you know what you’re talking about, they’ll think everyone in the company knows what they’re talking about,” says Brendan Cooke, an installer-turned-customer service rep for All-Guard Alarm Systems

“If you can educate the customer, they’re usually going to be satisfied with the product. And being an installer is the greatest education you can get in this industry. Learning all the functions of the product, walking people through it; that’s probably the greatest tool I have.”

SELL THE OPPOSITE

How often do you run into a customer who says they’re already satisfied with the service they’re getting from one of your competitors? Well Earl King, the founder of King Productions International, a HVAC sales consulting firm in Texas, says that shouldn’t nip your sales pitch in the bud.

“First, I’ll ask [a customer] if they’re satisfied,” King says. “And if they say there are, then I ask if we can do a maintenance audit — no charge, no obligation. I want to look at all their service tickets over the past 12 months or so, review how much has been spent on materials.”

Typically, King says, it’s not much. Having that knowledge in your hands creates an opportunity to sell away from what the customer’s already getting in a full-coverage agreement with someone else. If you can show a customer they’re paying more in a yearly service agreement than they’re getting back, you may be able to pick off a new customer by offering a “programmed maintenance,” labor-only agreement, which is always a lot cheaper.

FIRST, LISTEN

Great salespeople are said to have a silver tongue, right? Actually, it’s the ears that count.

By listening closely to what the customer is — and sometimes isn’t — saying, you can pick up on what their problem is,

By listening closely to what the customer is — and sometimes isn’t — saying, you can pick up on what their problem is, and how your product or service can solve that for them. Joe Crisara, a sales educator for ContractorSelling.com, talks about the “turn-around” technique, where you as a seller get the customer talking about why he’s interested in your service.Get them, essentially, to sell you on your own service — that helps them reinforce the fact that they want and need it, and it gives you information about exactly what they’re looking for.

“Many times buyers provide a false reason so they don’t reveal too much about their situation, thinking that you may use it against them to close the deal,” Crisara writes on his blog.

“The turn-around helps your buyers ‘think it over’ before you start making prices and solutions so they are certain that the service or product they are requesting information [about] is something they definitely will purchase.”

DON’T ASSUME

Part of listening is keeping an open mind, says Mike Moore, who runs HVAC Learning Solutions. And that means don’t assume anything. You don’t necessarily know what a customer’s budget is, or what they can and can’t afford.

People may surprise you — but if you don’t offer your best, you’ll never sell your best. So start by offering customers the service or product that best fits their needs — not what you think fits in their price range.

“The customer will pay for what he or she can afford, and it is never your job to decide what one can financially invest in,”

NO EXCUSES

Andy Halpein, the owner of Laser Printer Resource in Walnut Creek, Calif., puts it bluntly: “If they want a job, they’ve gotta sell.”

That’s kind of a sink-or-swim directive, but the point is valid: Sales is simply part of the job now. In some cases, that means pitching customers out in the field.

Or, as Halperin says, it can be as simple as just be performing a great repair, gaining the customer’s trust, and making sure to mention ongoing service agreements and handing them the company business card. Either way, it’s now a must. “Hopefully [the tech] is great — and usually they are,” he says. “I only hire great, awesome ones.”
Read the full article here: http://fieldservicenews.com/turning-field-service-techs-money-makers/

A Supplier’s Most Marketable Skill

BY: Julie Crisara

I recently got a call from friend who is in the HVAC, plumbing and electrical supply business. He asked what my thoughts were on what a supplier’s most marketable skill was to the contractors they serve.  I really thought that was an interesting question.  Contractors today have never had more choices when purchasing materials and goods.  Many have turned to purchasing from very nontraditional sources such online networks, big box stores and home improvement centers as a source of low price (and low quality) goods.

Brad’s Secret

BY: Joe Crisara

3 Reasons Why You’re Getting Your Butt Kicked

BY: Joe Crisara

If Your Fanny Hurts…

In times like this, when never been more information for sales people and service professionals today, ironically some of the best service companies and their people struggle to differentiate themselves from the pack. To be blunt, most of what these companies do amounts to “lip service” about how they are different and better with no real action that proves their claims. Results never lie. If your fanny hurts after a sales or service opportunity, you’re probably getting your butt kicked by your competitor. I have outlined “3 Reasons Why You’re Getting Your Butt kicked” to help you see where you could improve. After reading this can you see any other things as well? Please read this then comment… Continue reading “3 Reasons Why You’re Getting Your Butt Kicked”

The LOST Service Contractor (free ebook download)

BY: Joe Crisara

The Lost Service Contractor (free ebook download)

This e-lostbook shatters the myths that has been perpetrated on contractors and their employees for decades.

If you are an average Technician or salesperson then I’m sure you know all the myths and excuses that there are to know.

But with these myths and excuses you will only achieve average or below average results.

If you want OUTSTANDING results then you must read the special report called the “Lost Contractor.”

This free report is a must read for all service contractors! We first published this in 2006 but the message is timeless… kinda like plumbing. The principles and fundamentals are more true today than they ever were.

And if you like the book please share this link

http://contractorsalescoach.com/LOST%20CONTRACTOR.pdf

with others who you think may benefit.

Click here to download the Free E-book

 

9 Things To Know Before Presenting Solutions

BY: Joe Crisara

9 Things To Know

Too many times a sales or service person goes into a presentation of their services without knowing some of the essential things that will make it easier for them to create a WOW customer service experience. Knowing this essential information will not only be more meaningful to the client they are serving but will also be a better use of the service provider’s time as well. In that respect I have put together a list of 9 things to know before presenting your solutions and also the reason why you should ask these things before giving your potential client information about you. Continue reading “9 Things To Know Before Presenting Solutions”

Your Most Marketable Skill

BY: Joe Crisara

A Daunting Task

Recently I was approached by Bob Clary from www.webucator.com about my thoughts on what is a job-seeker’s most marketable skill. I really thought that was an interesting question. Let’s face it, today’s media is full of stories about people who have invested in their education only to be faced with the daunting task of finding employment. There are always excuses why someone can’t find a job but for every story of frustration and failure there are also stories about those who stopped giving in to the popular excuses and found a way to breakthrough and find the job of their dreams.   Continue reading “Your Most Marketable Skill”

The 4 “Be’s” Of Great Service

BY: Joe Crisara

The 4 “Be’s” Of Great Service

How do you know when you are providing great service? Go through the “4 Be’s” Of Great Service below to see how you measure up. Many people feel that great service is one-sided.

They feel as if you as the service provider must do everything a client tells you to do right or wrong. Great service is provided when the stakes are equal. You are working “with” your clients and not “for” your clients.

You are equal partners in that the client must want your service and you must determine whether the client’s request is the right thing to do or the wrong thing. Whether you find that you are a good fit for each client or not, be happy that they found the path that is right for them. Continue reading “The 4 “Be’s” Of Great Service”

Deciphering the Value of Qualified Salesmen

BY: Julie Crisara

While people attend technical or community colleges to learn how to install or service HVACR equipment, there’s no formal field of study or degree for HVACR sales. Despite an established educational tract, the majority of HVAC businesses have one or more salespeople on staff, whether or not the word sales is integrated in their titles.

Who Sells?

While a well-rounded salesperson boasts several quality traits, many HVAC companies prefer industry experience when considering new sales personnel.

Robert Helbing, president, Air-Tro Inc., Monrovia, California, said, there isn’t much turnover in salespeople at his company. When he has hired a salesperson, he’s hired someone with experience in the trade, whether or not they have prior sales experience.

But the sales staff isn’t the only crew selling at Air-Tro — technicians sell, too. Helbing said consultants are brought in to work with technicians to improve lead generation and accessory sales.

At Eric Kjelshus Energy HVAC, Greenwood, Missouri, everyone sells. “It starts with the person who answers the phone by asking what can be done to help,” said Eric Kjelshus, owner. “The person who makes the sale gets the glory.”

Other contracting companies differ in their sales philosophies. Some only allow salespeople — who may be referred to as sales representatives, comfort consultants, or similar monikers — to sell.

Continue reading “Deciphering the Value of Qualified Salesmen”

The Trade Technician’s Soft Skills Manual

BY: Julie Crisara

Learning to express yourself in a positive and professional way can be an art-form. THE TRADE TECHNICIAN’S SOFT SKILLS MANUAL, teaches these important soft skills with line drawings, photographs, and anecdotes from real case studies. This approach makes the subject area approachable while engaging the reader. The anecdotes are followed by explanations of proven service behaviors, along with proven standards, practice tips, forms, documents and checklists complete the text to teach technicians the fine art of customer service. Based on more than 30 years of studies and field research, this text teaches the skills needed for a trade technician to advance in their careers and differentiate themselves from others in their field. THE TRADE TECHNICIAN’S SOFT SKILLS MANUAL is written by Steve Coscia, a motivational speaker who managed a technical support team for more than 20 years and has used these techniques and practices to advance his own career as an industry expert.

Joe Crisara is a founding member of The Contractor Consultants of America: https://www.amazon.com/Trade-Technicians-Soft-Skills-Manual/dp/1111313814

The Pros and Cons of Using Jargon – CopyPressed

BY: Julie Crisara

When I entered the content marketing industry, I was confused by the word ideation. I was told it was like brainstorming, except there’s more structure and you leave with better ideas. Since first hearing that word I have attended many ideation meetings and found that they can get derailed just as quickly as brainstorming meetings. It’s easy to scoff and dismiss the word ideation as business jargon, yet I find myself using it several times a day.

Marketing Interview with Joe Crisara of Contractor Selling

BY: Julie Crisara

Read the full Marketing Interview with Joe Crisara of Contractor Selling: http://plumbingmarketing.net/joe-crisara-of-contractor-selling

Service Super Summit 2014Joe offered to share a number of resources through out the interview. Please take advantage of these:

  • The  Service Super Summit is coming up on March 5-7.  It’s gong to be a great event with lot’s valuable information on running a more profitable plumbing or HVAC Business. Joe mentioned that you could call the office or visit their Facebook page for a $100 scholarship on attending the event.
    • Here is a direct link to the Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/ContractorSelling
  • Book on the Oldest Water Heater Contest / Oldest Furnace Contest – Joe said to email him at joe@contractorselleting.com or to call his office at 877-764-6304 and he would get this ebook to you right away.
  • 3 Weeks Free on their triple your sales challenge. Joe is offering to let you attend his program for a full 3 weeks completely free of charge. It’s sounds like a complete no brainer to me. To take him up on that offer just email him at joe@contractorselleting.com or to call his office at 877-764-6304.

Please post your comments & follow up questions below. Also, be sure to subscribe for the podcast so you don’t miss any of the upcoming interviews. To subscribe via email click here or to subscribe via iTunes click here.

Service Super Summit Party Rockers Flash Mob

BY: Joe Crisara

Surprise Flash Mob

This is how we opened the 2014 Service Super Summit in San Antonio, Texas on March 5th, 2014. I wonder what was going through the minds of the 154 hvac, plumbing & electrical service contractors who came to the event looking for information on increasing their level of service, revenue and profit. Part of the “mob” were sitting at tables mixed in with the group and then just started to get up and start dancing. It was a wild opener that set the tine for the most fun I have ever had at an event for service contractors.

What Hard Work Can Accomplish

BY: Joe Crisara

If I’m Good Why Do I Need To Advertise It?

BY: Joe Crisara

Coca Cola On Crack?

I hear a lot of people claiming that plumbers, hvac contractors and electricians that over-advertise their services must not be good if they always need new clients. After all, if you were a great contracting business wouldn’t people just call you based on your great reputation? Why do you have to scream from the rafters about how great your service is? One plumber on a message board called the PlumbingZone.com said, “If your company is so good, why do you have to advertise like Coca Cola on crack?” Continue reading “If I’m Good Why Do I Need To Advertise It?”

Upselling Sucks

BY: Joe Crisara

Bad Service

I have heard lots of plumbers, hvac techs and electricians complain about their boss telling them to “upsell” clients when they go on a job. In fact, this is probably to number one misconception about great service. Most of the people in the field feel that good service is just taking care of the problem and not “upselling” the client. They don’t want to come off as a “used car salesman.” Continue reading “Upselling Sucks”

Letting Go of Judging People

BY: Joe Crisara

The following article was written by one of my blogging heroes Leo Babauta at www.zenhabits.net

One of the best changes I’ve made to help me be happier is learning to see judging other people as a red flag.

Now, I’m not going to pretend I don’t ever judge other people, I think it’s either a built-in method all humans have, or something we develop because of built-in methods. We all judge people, and I’m not an exception.

But I’ve gotten better at noticing when it happens. And recognizing that it’s a sign of something harmful. Continue reading “Letting Go of Judging People”