Nip the time vs. value question in the bud before it becomes an issue.



Being too fast is a problem when a customer calls to complain after the work has been finished. “This bill is way too high. Your guy was only here five minutes!”

It’s one of the quirky things about how customers judge us. And it comes up more and more when we quote a flat-rate price to solve a problem and then we wrap up too quickly without building value. The fact is it’s going to be tough to defend the value of the work done.

Owners and managers frequently share this complaint in workshops. That’s because many times they have to deal with a customer complaint about a bill or a price after the work has been completed.

That’s why I make sure to address, “When is being too fast a problem?” in my Sales Power! Ethical Selling system workshop and Sales Power! Plan.

The time factor is heightened because customers have a distorted sense of our time spent on the job and they can place a low value on our efforts. And although, “The customer is always right” is something I strongly disagree with, I do agree, “The customer is always the customer.”

So, you’re going to have to do a better job addressing this issue. First, accept this is going to be a tough objection that’s bound to come up, especially if you don’t know how to minimize the problem before it arises. That will make you more proactive.

The Solution

Begin by admitting that if your tech happens to be quick on the job or lucky enough to find and resolve the problem fast, the customer is potentially going to feel cheated if he doesn’t see the value of what you’re doing.

The trick is to use a sales system that minimizes your need to play defense by building value on the front end, while at the same time managing customer expectations.

But hey, you might be thinking, “We’re a T & M (time and material) shop, so this doesn’t apply.”

Not so!

My company was a T & M shop for years and customers would call and complain about the time on the invoice saying stuff like, “He went for parts and I shouldn’t be charged for that,” or “He was smoking a cigarette and I shouldn’t be charged for that.” You get the picture. It was a tug-of-war over clock-watching. Customers don’t place a value on our time to and from the job, willingness to come back to the job if there’s a problem or even time we spend training our staff.

It’s understandable when we stop thinking like owners and start thinking like customers.

I knew it was only going to get worse as we switched to flat-rate pricing. That’s why I learned how to teach my own techs to first get customers comfortable with what flat-rate pricing is and use one of the most common explanations there is: “We charge by the job not by the hour.” I know it’s not exactly original, but it’s still very effective because the real goal is for everyone to focus on the task at hand and not on time alone.

But to be proactive, you need a specific step-by-step sales process designed to build value the entire way. And one technique I teach as a trainer is to have your tech raise the objection in a way that prepares the customer should he finish quickly. Get the conversation back on track with the two greatest benefits of flat-rate pricing for a customer:

1. Protection - “Whether it takes me five minutes or five hours, here’s all you pay.”

2. Fairness - “You’ll pay the same price as your neighbor would pay for the same work.”

Like all good systems, a sales system needs to be in writing. And then it needs to be practiced by role-playing. The closer the role-play conditions are to the “real world,” the better the training goes and the more success the tech and the company will have.

Don’t have a real-world training center? Not a problem. Use your own building and make believe you’re running a call with your techs. They’ll get comfortable as you teach this technique and build value.

Ready to go to the next level? Show customers your operations manual and tell them the following when doing a troubleshooting call (typically, the most frequent complaint for time and expense since it’s mostly time and not always a lot in material): “Our company has a detailed procedure for nearly every type of call we do, so we can all do it pretty much the same and none of us skip any steps, which minimizes your need to call us back.”

Now your customers can see more value in what you’re doing for them. Don’t have manuals? Not a problem. Create a series of procedure checklists for the Top 10 troubleshooting jobs you do and build it step-by-step.

Do this and watch the time vs. value scale tip your way!