By Nancy O’Hare-Zika
As the General Manager and Marketing Director at Swick Home Services, I was often tasked with the organization and promotion of our Service Partner Plan. We called ours the “Gold Star Service Plan” but, regardless of what you call it, it is essentially all the same. An SPP is a mutually beneficial partnership between your company and your customers. Typically the customer will pay an annual fee to be a “member” and will in turn receive special discounts, priority scheduling, reduced or eliminated afterhours fees, and a routine cleaning and inspection of the home’s heating/cooling equipment.
A program like this assists you and your team with filling the schedule during times of low call volume and puts you back in the driver seat by allowing you to put calls where you need them in order to keep the schedule running smoothly. Some people spend an enormous amount of time deciding what they are going to charge for this membership, which is why pricing seems to be the question I am asked most about SPP’s…and my answer? FREE! Okay … maybe not FREE, but it’s important to note that if your concern is about “covering your cost,” you may be thinking about the purpose of Service Partner Plans (SPP) all wrong.
The number one goal of an SPP is simple: GET YOUR TECH IN FRONT OF THE CUSTOMER! The job of the marketing department is to get the tech in the door … it is the technician’s job to WOW that customer. Of course, while the technician is in the home, they have the opportunity to “sticker” every piece of equipment in that home. Anyone that enters the home of one of ‘your’ customers should know EXACTLY who has provided service in that home. This is important especially if the home changes owners. Your company will most likely be first in line to service that equipment in the future.
I felt so strongly about this added exposure that I gave away more SPP’s than were sold. Any time someone was sent my way, soliciting a donation for whatever cause, they received a nice package that contained information about our business, a magnet, information about the SPP, and a gift certificate for a free year of the program. School events, medical benefits, and community events … if I was asked for a donation, that is what was given. We gave a free year for every new piece of equipment installed AND we gave a “share with a friend” certificate as well.
Additionally, I created a “New Home Buyer Packet” that contained a note of congratulations to happy new homeowners, some information about our company and the services we offer, a fridge magnet, and a gift certificate for a one year SPP. Each quarter, I would make the rounds to the most popular agencies and dropped off a bundle of new packets and I always included several for the realtors themselves. We encouraged the realtors to create gift baskets to be presented to each new homeowner at closing and even allowed the realtor to fill out the certificate themselves, making them the hero and gift giver. We didn’t care about who took credit for the gift; we just wanted the new customer.
This simple shift in how we managed the SPP’s obviously increased the total number of plan participants, but also served as a key component for a $1 million sales increase that year. Changing your mindset of how you manage your SPP program can be a simple revenue builder and may be an untapped fountain of opportunity.