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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Client Billing: WWJD?

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Service calls are a large and important revenue generator for any custom installation business. In fact, those quick, “Can you come fix this?” or “I need a programming change” calls keep the trucks rolling and help many of us to stay in business in between the large projects. And there is an important cycle to the service call that must be maintained for us to continue to be successful in business: We do the work, we send a bill, the customer pays the bill, and the customer is happy and continues to think of us for all future needs.

Most people are happy – well, maybe not happy but at least willing and content – to pay for a service that they feel good about and that is fair and equitable. Say their TV was broken before some major event. You dispatched a tech in a timely manner. The tech arrived and fixed the issue. They got to watch their show. You send a bill. It’s warm and fuzzy all around. Happy ending.

But other times people will pay a bill even when they are not feeling good about it and which they think isn’t fair. And often times they’ll do it without saying anything. But if they feel wronged or aggrieved enough, they probably won’t ever call us back. Sad ending.

As I prepare invoices now, I start running it through a mental filter I like to call WWJD: What Would John (me) Do?

Essentially I ask myself, “If I were to get this bill, how would I feel about it?” Would I think it was fair? Would I feel like I was a valued customer? Would I understand why I was being charged for something? Would I want to continue doing business with this company?

It’s a pretty simple barometer that often helps me to reword things, clarify things and sometimes adjust the price for things.

Different areas demand different service call rates, and I’m sure we’ve all had those times where we charged someone $70-100+ to go out and literally press a button (oh, Tape 2 Monitor! It’s like you were an ATM built into every receiver!) and sometimes those calls do justify a full-priced invoice. Other times, a bill requires a little massaging.

Here are five things I use to help decide WWJD before billing clients.

Could I Fix It Over the Phone?

I do my darndest to help people resolve an issue on the phone before dispatching a tech. For one thing, it’s just easier to solve a problem and be done with it than to fold it into our busy schedule. If it is something simple like reboot a cable box, change the batteries in a remote, or making sure everything is on the right input and I can help them out on the phone, I’ll do it. That way if we do dispatch a tech and it does turn out to be one of those simple one-button-press fixes, the customer will at least know that we tried to help them before the service call and it helps to mitigate the bill. But you know the old saying…John can’t help them that won’t help themselves. I had one customer that absolutely refused to unplug something and then plug it back in. I even told him, “Sir, I don’t want to have to bill you to send a tech out to spend 30 seconds to unplug that. I’m trying to save you money here,” but he didn’t care. He wanted the service call and he knew what it was going to cost and he was willing to pay it.

Please click here to read four more WWJD things to consider when billing...

Categories: July 2014, CTA

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