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Selling Services? Consider Adding Fine Wine and Artisanal Cheese

Billy Marshall
February 17, 2015

As the Internet shrinks the world and arms consumers with information on how much things should cost, the service contractor’s service area will shrink as well. Customers will have information on which contractors are nearby, and they will make judgments on who can likely deliver the service for less due to lower expenses for travel time. Customers will also be armed with information regarding what service calls for common repairs and replacements should cost. They will simply Google:

“How much should it cost to repair [insert service item here]” ?

Google sends back advertisements, forums, customer reviews, articles, and a whole host of information to arm them in negotiating for better pricing on common “bread and butter” service calls. With a shrinking service area and pricing pressure on “bread and butter,” how can the service contractor maintain margins and growth?  One strategy is to offer the customer “Artisanal Cheese” to complement the “bread and butter.”


Add some “Artisanal Cheese” to Your Services

Why do grocers always place the bread, butter, eggs, milk, and other daily consumption items at the back corners of the store? So the customer has to walk past craft beer, tasty snacks, soda, candy, fine wine, and artisanal cheese to get to the commodity items. Everyone knows what bread and butter should cost, so grocers do not make any money on it. Artisanal cheese does not face the same pricing pressure because it is a niche item that does not suffer the same comparative price scrutiny. It is a “treat” that customers will “splurge” to enjoy. If you are a service contractor, offering the service equivalent of artisanal cheese is a great way to maintain growth and profit as the Internet inevitably shrinks the service area for bread and butter.  Artisanal cheese, however, needs to be packaged differently than bread and butter. It is typically merchandised in a fancy wrapping inside an attractive display that also contains complementary items which likewise command a premium margin. It is offered in the context of the consumption habits of the customer, often with expert reviews (wine spectator for example) that help the customer feel good about the purchase even at a high price.

So, the service item analog should be thoughtfully packaged for consideration by the customer as part of a standard call for delivering bread and butter. During the bread and butter call, the opportunities to sell artisanal cheese should be documented and presented back to the customer in a way that relates the thoughtfulness of the recommendation. These are upgrades, improvements, retrofits that all bring incremental value to the customer. How might they be received if they are laid out in bad handwriting on a coffee and tobacco stained accounting ticket? How much more receptive might the customer be if they are laid out online with photos and other rich supporting documentation that purports the superior quality of this premium service item (artisanal cheese)?

Fancy wrapper?           Check.

Attractive showcase?         Check.

Complementary items offered?      Check.

Premium margin?            Check.

A better customer service experience and better profits?   You Bet.

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