by Jim Hinshaw
The summer heat may have been strong the last couple of months, but it is fading fast, or may have left already. You may be asking yourself, why isn’t the phone ringing? It is easy to think that the daily number of calls coming in will not diminish, but they do. Each year, some years early, some later, depends on the weather as much as anything. This year may be different due to the pandemic, but still, sooner or later, most markets will get to the time of the year we call “millionaire weather”. That is what we call the weather in Santa Barbara or even San Diego, 75 degrees daytime, 57 at night. Don’t need heat or AC. We become “not quite essential”.in terms of how important we are to the average homeowner.
We all know that in a few weeks or maybe months, the demand will be back, we get smarter when it is 31 degrees or 95 degrees. But for now, we need a plan on how to maximize service and sales in the shoulder season. Here are some ideas to help ensure that you don’t give back the summer profits you earned over the last 4 months.
- Realize that some people just don’t make decisions fast. As important as air conditioning is to us, there may be other things more important to them. A big box that has contractors in the store did a study, they discovered that 30% of the consumers who had quotes done for replacement systems had done nothing a year later. 30%. So, the first thing to do is to call all of your old quotes. Let them know you were thinking of them (people like to be thought of), ask them if they had completed a replacement system yet. If not, let them know you have a special package for them to review. Then add in a UV light, high efficiency filter, extra year of maintenance, some sort of added value. Then close the sale!
- Start a Repair Credit Program. Offer customers who repaired a unit earlier this year a chance to “re-think” that repair. In some cases, it seemed to be the best solution, maybe limited funds were a factor, perhaps the upgraded equipment was not available. At any rate, it may be that an offer to credit all or part of that repair back on the purchase of a new system makes sense now. Their financial conditions may have changed, they may be tired of the old system just not doing what they hoped in terms of even temperatures, controlling humidity, sound levels, all the items that spell comfort.
- Get an outstanding financing program in place. Go for a 10- or 15-year term, single digit rates, a bonus would be if it included no payments/no interest for the first 6 months. Gets them into next year. Be sure that plan has a built in “second look” where if they are not able to qualify on the first run through, it automatically rolls over into a second attempt to qualify, possibly at higher rate, or reduced length of term. Check with your equipment supplier to see if they can help with the financing costs.
- Double down on the advertising. All advertising. FB, social media of all kinds, Google Local Services, PPC, whatever you are doing, do more. Increase your community involvement, this is the time of year when you need to be top of the mind with as many as possible.
- I have said this before, but it needs to be repeated. Join a networking group. BNI is the example I talk about a lot. They are all over the world, only allow one company in from each type of industry. So, if you are the Air Conditioning guy, you will be the only Air Conditioning guy in that group. Cost is around $600/year, a few service calls can make that up. Chamber of Commerce is not the same. While there may be some good contacts in the Chamber, it is open to anyone who pays the fee. Could be 4 or 5 AC companies there. A sub-set of a networking group is a service club, such as Rotary. They usually have involvement from upper-level management, company leaders who give of their time and money to help improve the planet. You are working along-side a bank VP, while you are not allowed to openly advertise your goods and services in Rotary, everyone will know what you do rather quickly, you will be surprised at how much business can be obtained from that membership.
- Work with the service and dispatch teams to share how important it is to look at each call as a chance to improve the customer’s lives and comfort in their home. I would suggest a company meeting that focuses on the perfect service call, what the technician needs to look at each time. The dispatch team needs to ask a set of questions to set up the calls for optimum productivity, be sure the correct tech is one each call.
- Finally, put together a few “packages” that include high-efficiency indoor and outdoor units, perhaps IAQ products, high efficiency filters, thermostats that can be controlled from the smart phone, and any other accessories that you think the marketplace needs. Show this as your Best, then offer a better, then end up with a value (or good) system as the base. Pick the Best (or better) system, share that this one is your favorite, here is why, have a story ready. People love stories.
There you have 7 ideas on how to weather the shoulder season, to keep from giving back the money you made this summer. These ideas and more can be found at https://www.serviceroundtable.com. Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.