I recently went to Vegas, but I was not there to gamble away my kids’ college funds.  Instead, I was participating in the annual western region meeting of the National Association of Fire Equipment Dealers (NAFED).  During the meeting, an interesting narrative regarding the value of an inspection job versus the value of repair work for the customers’ fire protection systems emerged during several of the conversations I witnessed.  Opinions were varied due to lack of relevant experiences, but I am in the fortunate position to have the facts and the rationale to support the findings.

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When I arrived at DunnWell (the company where ServiceTrade began) in 2010, I discovered that the company was reporting system deficiencies to customers based upon the findings of the inspection reports, but less than 23% of those impaired systems turned into repair orders for the company.  As a sales professional, I was blown away by this poor performance.  There is no better sales lead than the following:

“I was at your facility yesterday, and I discovered a malfunction with your equipment.  It is not operating correctly, but rest assured we are the experts and we can fix it.  In fact, I have already put together a quote and a suggested time for us to return and put everything in good working order for you.”

How in the world can you NOT make a sale with that type of pitch?  Here’s how – be unorganized or sloppy in the follow up and speak in “codespeak” instead of customer terms.  Customers do not care about “code”.  Nor are they concerned about a deficiency you discovered BUT waited 2-4 weeks to report to them.  DunnWell was taking 2 – 3 weeks to turn around quotes for the work, if it was quoted at all.  Plus, the quote was attached to an email with multiple references to code violations with some accounting codes referencing what the customer must pay.

We fixed all of that at DunnWell, and now those lessons benefit the ServiceTrade application.  If you deliver your deficiency quote within 2 days of discovering the problem, and it includes photos that “tell the story,” and it can be reviewed and approved online, the approval rate will 75% or higher.  We have the data.  How would you like to improve your repair revenue by 3X?  Here is another number for you – your ratio of repair work to inspection work should be about $1 of repair to $1 of inspection.  If it is not, you are being sloppy in the stewardship of your customers’ equipment.  And both you and your customer are incurring liability that should not be there.  Higher liability and less profit, simply because you cannot be bothered to do a good job following up on deficiency opportunities, is a recipe for failure.

Why do people respond so positively to online quotes with photos attached? The reason is obvious – it’s easy!  Easier than downloading and printing some PDF attachment to an email, signing it, faxing it back – what a drag.  Also, if it is delivered within a day or two of the inspection, it must be important.  Better review it and make a decision.  Finally, people respond more readily to images and stories.  Our brains are wired that way.  The best sales pitch is a story that people can relate to – not some cryptic code references and accounting bric-a-brac with a price they have to pay.  Lead with the images and the story, then watch your conversion rates go through the roof.  Here is the science behind story-telling as a sales tool if you are interested.

Well, I have some good news.  For ServiceTrade customers, all of the work to be great at service revenue from deficiencies is streamlined for the benefit of our customers and their customers.  Our deficiency quoting process is totally integrated with the photo and audio deficiency reporting of our mobile app.  It allows you to use templates for frequently quoted repairs, and lets the customer review the quote online.  We even tell you when the customer has looked at it online.  Higher revenue, higher profit, lower costs, and lower liability.  What are your inspections worth?

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