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.”

I agree that contractors who try to sell more for the sake of money or greed have a special place in hell waiting for them. When you are offering your best services you must have a “pure motive” which is to provide the best service for every client.

My policy is simple… “I never sell a client something they do not want or do not need.”

Upselling Sucks

Therefore I agree with all of you that to try to offer a client a solution and then “upsell them” for the sake of higher revenue is like getting your foot stuck in the door of bad contracting service.

Remember this however… high revenue per call SHOULD be an indication that the client is getting more service for the extra money. So if one plumber sells a water heater for $800 and does not remove the old unions, shut offs & flu pipe then yes the value is lower and so is the price.

Please don’t vilify the plumber who changes all the old fittings and flu plus replaces 8′ of copper and who also charges $1,500 (If he did all of the extra work needed)

Offering Your Best Service

How do you offer your best service to all clients? Well for one thing, you do not “upsell” them or ever tell clients what they should do. To me the only ethical way to offer your best services and NOT rip people off is to offer a range of choices.

After all, how would they know about the more premium solutions or more quality services that are available if we never bothered to show it to them and also showed them the investment to do it?

Here’s How You Begin

You start by telling your client, “I have several solutions for you. The first one is the most premium with the best service, warranty and products. The bottom choice only includes the thing you called me out here for with a minimal warranty.”

You then inform them that all of the choices will fix the problem but the top choice is more permanent and that I will take all the responsibility if something besides the problem happens. That’s why it is a higher investment. The bottom option is just the immediate issue being fixed and the client assumes more responsibility should other issues happen that are not being fixed at this time.

Client’s Choice Not Yours

Also let the client know that you are happy with ANY choice they make and that they should choose what’s right for them and their family.

In fact if a client asks, “Which one would you choose?” I would tell the client that, “My job is to find the problem and create solutions. Your job is to choose one. I can tell you the top option is more permanent and renovates the old material surrounding the problem that’s why we warranty it for 5 years. The bottom option is just the immediate fix with the standard warranty. How do you normally purchase things for your home?” Most people choose one of the middle options. (stats below)

What would the choices look like? Here are typical plumbing hot water solution choices…
———————————
Premium PLUS Solution – Tankless Endless Hot Water System
– Repipe Gas & Water – New Combustion removal system
– Emergency automatic water & gas shutoff system with alarm
– Whole house carbon water treatment & filtration
– 5 Year warranty & 5 year de-scaling yearly service
Investment: $ ????

Premium Solution – same as above with no carbon water treatment
– 4 Year warranty & 4 year de-scaling yearly service
Investment: $ ????
———————————
Signature Solution – Same as above with Hi Recovery Hi Capacity tank
– 3 Year warranty & 3 year de-scaling service
Investment: $ ????

Standard Solution – Same as above with manual gas/water shut off only
Investment: $ ????
———————————
Basic Solution – Standard capacity water heater
– New flu, water & gas with 8′ of copper replaced
– 2 Year warranty no service plan
Investment: $ ????

Economy Solution –
Standard capacity water heater
Water & gas manual shutoff only
– 1 Year warranty no service plan
Investment: $ ????
———————————
I know this will rock a lot of worlds in the contracting industry, but if you cut and paste the above presentation and add your prices then show it to your client you will have…

  1. A happier client because they had a choice instead of an ultimatum
  2. Better quality work (If the client so chooses)
  3. An extended relationship because of the yearly service
  4. More peace of mind knowing who is responsible for call backs.

(based on which option was chosen)

The Results?

I can only speak for myself but the average of the “coaching” clients we currently have when presenting these solutions are…

– 99% client satisfaction and GREAT reviews (comments from clients, “Glad you took the extra time to create the choices for me…”)

Statistics (compiled from 2006 to current from our clients)

  • 17% choose one of the top two options
  • 72% choose one of the middle two options
  • 11% choose one of the bottom two options

– Great service offered and provided because the client made the choice as to how much service they wanted not the plumber.
– An average ticket of $2,873 on water heater calls – Yes the company made more money too for doing better service and longer warranties.

Said My Piece

This is what I believe in because it is what I used since 1994 and it is what I stand for. Before that I did it just like you and thought the same way you do. You can yell, scream and call me what you want but this has change the lives of so many contractors and their clients in a positive way that it now runs in my DNA.
I offer options not ultimatums. BAM! I said it!

Not gonna take it back or apologize AND I never upsell or scare a client into purchasing something they don’t want or need. I just give them the customized choices so they can choose what’s right for them.

Uncle Joe

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