Service techs can bring in the most sales to existing customers, if they try
By Robert Stuart
What is your service department? Is it a profit center, or a necessary evil to keep customers happy with their new products? If you’re not running it as a profit center, you’re losing money and opportunities.
It amazes me how much time and money a company will spend on marketing, yet ignore the goldmine of contacts they already have. Ramping up your service department to bring you more business could change the way you advertise, increase sales and retrofit your customer satisfaction.
I have often harped that all service techs should have sales training. However, I still hear from store owners that “Our guys are great techs and don’t want to sell.” If they don’t want to add to the company’s sales, they aren’t “great techs” — just business implements you use to change parts.
A tech who doesn’t sell is like a company vehicle without a logo or contact info. It’s like a banner that has the company name but no mention of what you do. You don’t need to wrap your vehicles for them to transport your tech or products to the customer’s house, but most of us do to get our name out and bring in sales. Giving your techs the necessary sales tools to get your name and product offerings out can have even more rewards than your signage.
If your technicians refuse to sell or promote, you’ve got one of two choices: incentivize them or replace them. If you can’t incentivize them with money, try time off or other rewards like points toward their own hot tub or a vacation trip. If none of those things work, you probably aren’t getting as much out of them as you think — and you need to look for another tech. Someone who doesn’t want to be part of growth or team improvement probably isn’t performing at their best and is likely causing more problems than they are fixing.
Techs should have monthly or even weekly meetings to discuss issues, ideas and experiences they’ve seen in the field — but I challenge you to also have quarterly sales training to teach them how to sell in the field and stay updated on product offerings. I also suggest at least every other training to be with the salespeople; the more technicians interact with the sales staff, the more likely they are to be on the same page.
Have an owner or manager attend those meetings. It’s commonplace to set the crew up with a manufacturer training and just let the factory people deal with it. But if you’re not involved, you won’t see how they react. You can get a lot of insight to your field crew by watching their interaction in class.
You also need a company protocol and systems for everyone who works with customers to use as a guide. You might not think you need to cover how to park at a customer’s house or to make sure your employee doesn’t smoke onsite, but you do. Think of how you want technicians, laborers, landscapers and contractors to act when they are at your house, around your family and neighbors. We recently had several major hailstorms in my area; there were roofing crews everywhere as I was out on spa service calls. I saw crews yelling obscenities at each other and cat calling girls, smoking and throwing cigarette butts on lawns.
Once you establish the protocols for customer service, pan for more gold. The easiest people to sell to are your existing happy customers! Each tech in the field is your eyes and ears to those customers. They need to be trained to look for opportunities and act on them. I like to think that I’m unique in the ability to switch from tech to salesman and vise versa, but anyone can learn to do this with practice. At the very least, if your tech doesn’t want to hard sell, they can bring potential opportunities to the sales department. If they learn to look around the site, listen to the customer and make suggestions, it will open the door for the sales department. If a tech is doing service, the customer is going to trust them more than anyone in the company.
Everyone in your company is part of sales. If they get that message upfront, it will change the course of your company.
To help your service and delivery departments generate leads, try starting with a contest — most leads for new products by any field employee — then set up lead cards and thoughts on where to look for potential leads. If you sell grills, gazebos, outdoor hearth products or patio furniture, that’s easy for the tech: They are right there looking at the customer’s backyard, so start a contest for those specific products among service and delivery staff. There are also the more obvious products like new covers, lifters or steps for the spa. I sell salt generators onsite more than any other item, so I always carry three to four with me. If you incentivize correctly, your field crew will be asking for these products to carry!
One great technique for the delivery department is to put door hangers on the neighbors’ doors saying, “We’ve just made your neighbor’s life more relaxing and fun with a new ____from_______! Call us for a quote for your backyard fun!” The service department can use them too.
You could also give techs new filters to give away at every service call where a customer will allow them to put a sign in the yard. Most techs can sell a gazebo easier than an in-store salesperson if they make it a habit. Gazebos are often purchased once customers have the spa, and techs can encourage this.
Next comes follow-up calls. If every technician made a follow-up call to the customer themselves and simply said, “Just checking to see how the spa is doing since I was out. By the way, I noticed that your grill is getting a bit old and we happen to be running a sale on them this week.” That customer is 20 times more likely to buy a new grill from you than any other company if they just get an invite. Do you know why so many people have Home Depot, Costco or other box-store grills? It’s not because they got a two-hour sales pitch and think that grill is the best: It’s because they were there, walking by and saw it. Just think if they could have someone they know and trust come to their house and sell it to them!
Even if you pay techs commission, set up a lead generation board for all to see and keep it updated with each employees numbers. Set up a points system that brings them rewards starting with a day off or, even better, one of the products they are touting. If they have those products at home and use them, they will be much more likely to sell them. I’ve seen salespeople compete hard for something as silly as a manufacturer shirt, hat or jacket.
It would be great if we could open our doors, put a sign up and take orders as people flocked in, but that’s not how it works. We need to sell our services, and that doesn’t mean only in the showroom. We need to sell our company and services just to get people to walk in the door. There are two ways to get people in: a cold connection and a warm connection. A cold connection is people who know little to nothing about us, whom we must win over from the beginning. A warm connection is people who are already familiar with what we do and sell. Those people are our gold.
Your techs have more ability to farm those warm connections than anyone. Make use of those relationships.
Robert Stuart has been in the spa industry for more than 20 years as a technician, store manager, factory representative, salesman and business owner.