How to Sell More HVAC Maintenance Contracts
HVAC maintenance contracts are great for HVAC companies. The contracts provide a more consistent source of revenue than piecemeal work, and they help you keep strong relationships with customers. Ideally, those customers will go on to buy more HVAC equipment. However, some companies find that it is a challenge to sell maintenance contracts to customers. Here’s how you can sell more maintenance plans and be more profitable.
Ensure Your Staff Understand the Value of a Maintenance Contract
A person who can sell something they don’t believe in is a rare breed. Most people need to value the service to make a convincing pitch to a customer. So, you need to make sure that your technicians, as well as your sales staff, understand why a customer will benefit if they sign up for your maintenance plan.
A customer can benefit from maintenance plans in many ways, including:
- Longer service life from equipment
- Less expensive repairs when repairs do happen
- More likely to avoid emergency repair situations
- Other benefits are specific to your maintenance plans, which may include priority appointments, discounts on labor and parts, etc.
It can also help to incentivize your staff to sell more HVAC service contracts. Some companies tie promotions and reviews to service contract sales, but we prefer offering positive incentives for technicians that go above and beyond with contract sales. For example, offering up prizes like TVs and gift cards to whichever technician sells the most contracts per month can be a powerful motivator.
While service calls are the bread and butter of most HVAC companies, maintenance contracts can help spread out income to cover slower seasons. For example, during the months between heating and cooling season, maintenance contracts can also help give you a foot in the door to sell indoor air quality equipment, duct cleaning services, and pre-season tune-ups.
They can also help you more effectively value the company if you ever want to sell it.
Better Communicate the Value of a Maintenance Contract
Once you’re sure your technicians understand the value of the maintenance contract, you need to give them opportunities and strategies to communicate that value to the customer. Try the following:
- Use quotes: When you send a quote for maintenance or repairs to those customers who don’t have a contract with you, including how much the same service would cost if they had a contract.
- Ask questions: Some customers just don’t understand what is involved in HVAC maintenance. Ask if they have performed some of the simpler tasks and offer the maintenance contract if they haven’t completed them (virtually no customers will have done this).
- Include figures: How many more years will a customer get out of their furnace if it is maintained? How much will they save on repairs over the life of their air conditioner? Include real numbers wherever you can.
- Talk about emergencies: People who don’t care about savings may care more about convenience. Point out how inconvenient emergency repairs are and how you can help them avoid that with yearly maintenance.
If you’re trying to sell commercial HVAC maintenance contracts, you have even more options. Many commercial HVAC companies offer plans that go beyond regular maintenance to also offer guaranteed response and repair times, or discounts on service, or extended warranties. Consider taking a good look at your target commercial customers to see which benefits would be the most interesting to them, and then create a new commercial HVAC service contract to meet those needs.
Understanding the Arguments Against HVAC Service Contracts
Here’s a crucial step that many HVAC companies overlook.
Sites like Checkbook.org and Washington Post regularly publish articles about the pros and cons of entering into an HVAC service contract. Reading through those articles, and understanding the very valid arguments against HVAC service contracts, can make you better prepared for talking to customers about their own concerns.
For example, most new HVAC equipment comes with some kind of manufacturer’s warranty, which can make a service contract feel redundant. But understanding the limitations of those manufacturer’s warranties, such as slow turnaround times for replacement parts, can help you clear up the confusion.
When you give customers a choice, you can help mitigate their concerns about the maintenance plan. For example, customers who are concerned about the price of the plan may opt for one that is less expensive, shorter or covers less of their equipment. Other customers may be selling their home soon and would prefer transferable contracts, to give buyers more incentive.
It can also be smart to customize your maintenance contracts for your market. For example, in areas where seasonal allergies are more common, focusing on duct cleaning, filter replacement, and air scrubbers can be a win-win. For areas with more high-income customers, focusing on ductless systems, heat pump systems, and guaranteed response times for emergency service can make a big difference.
Keep in Contact with Customers
How do you ensure customers renew their maintenance contracts? Keep in contact with them throughout the year, so they are reminded of your business relationship and have a reason to reflect on its value. You can send holiday cards, reminders to schedule maintenance before the seasons change, and emails with special deals, updates, and information. With an open line of communication, it is easier to reach out and renew the contract when the time comes.
What About Commercial HVAC Service Contracts?
Selling commercial service agreements is a little trickier, but many of the same tactics still apply.
The differences start with the equipment itself: commercial HVAC clients may have varying levels of climate control needs, varying levels of access for critical equipment, and different goals when it comes to controlling costs. Some businesses respond better to savings up front or long-term discounts, while others are more receptive to discounted service calls. Being able to understand each commercial client’s unique needs is essential if you want to sell them a commercial service contract.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Offer free or discounted check-ups of all HVAC equipment. Poorly maintained HVAC equipment isn’t just an opportunity for selling a service–it’s also an opportunity to sell ongoing maintenance to help prevent the issue in the future.
- Give your sales team the flexibility to customize contracts. If it’s clear that a client will be more receptive to longer maintenance contracts with steeper discounts, it’s important that the sales technician has the flexibility to customize and sell that package. Otherwise you could wind up developing the right contract for their needs, only for another company to actually sell it to them!
- Focus on energy costs. We all know that a poorly maintained HVAC system can heavily impact your energy bills, but do the work and put those numbers in real terms. If the marginal cost of your maintenance would be less than the marginal energy costs of poorly maintained equipment, that’s a strong pitch.
Keep in mind that catching issues with commercial HVAC systems during a tune-up, especially during less busy times of the year, is also a great opportunity to sell new equipment. So don’t be afraid to sell commercial HVAC service contracts at close to cost, since they can quickly pay for themselves with the HVAC needs they let you uncover.