The Profits and Pitfalls of Service Work

© 2006 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2006
Author: Scott O’Neill
Page 68

The Profits and Pitfalls of Service Work
How It Pays to Sometimes Not Get the Sale

By Scott O’Neill

Every door dealer knows there are great profits in service work. But as Door & Access Systems has reported, some companies have elected to accelerate these profits by taking advantage of unsuspecting customers.

This presents a great opportunity to differentiate your company as one with integrity. Doing so can make a huge impact on your future business.

“Did I Get Ripped Off?”

“Can I just ask you, did I get ripped off?”

That’s how Kathy began her phone call to me back in 2003. Then she told me her long, sad tale.

Her five-year-old “stuck garage door” had a broken torsion spring. Her husband, Jeff, found a company that would come out immediately, at a great price of only $55 … or so he thought.

Too Good to Be True?

Within an hour, a service truck showed up to get her door working. The technician inspected the door and then informed Kathy of the needed repairs. She said the conversation went something like this:

Tech: “I can fix your door—it has a broken torsion spring. But if you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, you should replace both springs.”

Kathy: “Okay. That sounds reasonable. How much?”

Tech: “Well, the springs are going to run you only about $6 per inch, and … oh, you see these brackets up here?”

He pointed to what she later learned were the HT brackets, the spring perch, the bearings on each, and the torsion tube.

Tech: “Since these parts move so much, they should all really be replaced if you want to keep the door running at its best. Then you won’t need us to come out again.”

Kathy: “Okay, about how much would all this run, approximately?”

Tech: “Well, let me run a tally. I’ll be back.”

He went to his truck, calculated the costs, and then returned with the news. The new torsion tube was $165. The springs were about 30" long, so at $6 per inch, that made them $180 each. And it just kept adding up.

It Gets Worse

As the technician kept adding things, she never really tallied the total. She only asked him to be fair and honest.

Big mistake.

When the work was done, he presented the bill. Although shocked, she begrudgingly gave him her credit card for the total, a whopping $1,451.03 … for what originally was a broken spring.

He even had her sign a waiver, agreeing to give up her rights to rescind on the work being done. She first objected, but he assured her, “It’s just a formality.”

Same Service, Different Results

He left, and that’s when she frantically called me, asking if she’d been ripped off. I had her fax me a copy of her bill, and then I gave her a quote to perform the exact same service and parts, with our standard pricing.

Our bottom line was more than $1,000 less.

Furious, she appealed to her credit card company for help. Kathy and Jeff got lucky. Their card company reversed the charges and paid the fair price I quoted.

The Lesson of the Day

What did I get out of my time spent? No financial compensation, but I certainly gained the good feeling of knowing that I helped right a wrong, and I earned more trust in our trade. Kathy and Jeff were also kind enough to give me a solid recommendation for several doors and service from their friends and family.

But the most satisfying part is knowing that I can sleep soundly at night. I’m proud to work with people who follow professional business principles:

· We’re honest about which parts truly need to be replaced.
· We communicate clearly to each customer so that there are no surprises.
· We charge a fair price for our products and services.
· And we always seek the customer’s best interests in everything we do.

In the end, we’re building lasting relationships, a great reputation, and a growing list of referrals that keep the business going, year after year.