5 Ways to Improve Service Department Efficiency and Revenues

The Great Recession forced retailers to find or enhance service- department revenue in order to save their business. The methods shared here have become standard in a bruised postrecession world.

Method No.5: FileMaker for iPad and iPhone
Dan Friedman of the Northern California’s The Hot Tub Store chain has adopted online subscription software platform FileMaker for store-to-store inventory communication, inventory control and up-to-the-minute service call updates. “My service manager, Steve, created systems and forms for sharing customer, workflow and project management data entry, as opposed to handwritten notes,” Friedman says. “Excel spreadsheets are also easily inserted into projects. Info is accessible via computer and in-field by service techs via iPhone or iPad, where they can add job notes and photos.”

Method No.4: The Square Credit Card Reader
A couple years ago, Rita Rowlen of Ultra Modern Pool and Patio in Wichita, Kan., equipped her service crew with a credit card swipe device, Square Reader, so service techs could take payments in the field. “Before implementing the Square Reader, we had to physically run a customer’s credit card at the store or the tech had to call it in to the store,” she says. “It wasn’t as safe a transaction that way. Now the service tech runs the card, the customer signs on the tablet and a receipt is e-mailed to them immediately.” Square has both magstripe and chip readers.

Method No. 3: The Tub Visit
Dan Binner of Binner Pools, Spas and Fireplaces in Fon du Lac, Wisc., asks customers for permission to visit the tubs.“When you sell a tub, customers don’t want to hear about service programs and warranties; they just want to use [the spa],” Binner says. “We’ll start them with the chemicals for water treatment to get them going. The visit is a means to address customer questions, check the unit and perform any required factory warranty service. It also opens the door to discuss routine maintenance calls, winterization of the spa, spring prep/tub opening, mechanical and system inspec- tions, etc. If there are maintenance issues, we discuss that with the customer and schedule a service call.” The point is to build that relationship with your customer, Binner says. “Visit the customers you already have,” he adds, “and you’ll have plenty of service business.”

Method No. 2: Communication With The Customer
We’ve all required some kind of service call at home and have been given an outrageously extensive time window. Tom Junck of Combined Pooland Spa in Sioux Falls, S.D., is on a mission tochange that — with an invention called the telephone. “I tell our crew that’s the most important tool they can use,” Junck says. “People love to be communicated and overcommunicated with. Not all service techs enjoy doing this, but when they do, it makes the process so much easier. We’ll call the customer the night before to confirm and remind them the service call is the next day, and to make sure we have access to the work area. We’ll also check if we have a credit card on file. The next day, the tech will call with an approximate time window of arrival and another when they are on the way.”

Method No.1: Auto Ship
Steve Ruscigno of Oregon Hot Tub in Beaverton, Ore., has created a growing monthly revenue source with his own auto-ship program, where spa consumables are always in his customers’ hands, not purchased from competitors or big-box stores. “Since we know a customer is going to go through a two-pound bottle of chlorine every four months, for example, we run their credit card every quarter and ship the chlorine with an Ag+ cartridge via UPS,” he says. “We make it convenient; the customer can call and add to that order, too.”

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