Last month we discussed how to improve operational performance and thus greater customer satisfaction. The topics covered were:
Service call response time ‘ exceeding expectations
Faster and more accurate estimating
This month we will discuss how to get paid well for your great service.
Increase Your Service Margins
Full service customers have chosen you for your service. Price is not their only consideration. They do not buy your fuel because it’s the best fuel. Your customers buy from you because they believe you are there for them ‘ more so than the competition. There are other companies that your customers won’t choose because they are afraid to give up your service.
If you are taking care of the customer, you deserve to get paid well for it. And you can’t afford not to. Yes, you must be mindful of the market, but if your competitor is offering an unrealistic price, don’t follow them out of business.
You must know your costs. I’m seeing typical labor costs including overhead on the order of $85 per hour. Included in that is about $6.50 per hour toward fuel costs or $11 per hour toward overall vehicle costs.
Once you know your overhead, add an appropriate profit margin, and then compare your new labor rate with the competition. If you are dramatically higher, check your costs and seek ways to be more efficient, without compromising on service quality. If you are much lower than your competition, consider raising your rates, assuming your costs are accurate. Don’t be afraid to be a few dollars higher than the competition. Labor rates are not shopped closely and customers will pay more per hour if you have their confidence.
Flat rates are a great way to increase your labor rate for repairs; they also decrease invoice disputes. Flat rates make it harder for customers to dissect your pricing so you can charge an appropriate labor rate. Flat rates also allow you to quote repair costs in advance, so you get fewer disputes.
Don’t get hung up on individual job profitability. A lot of businesses are afraid to lose money on a single flat rate job. It is O.K. if that happens, as long as you are making profit on average. Let’s be realistic’you don’t profit on all of your time and material jobs either. A job that is destined to run long is usually apparent in advance and you can always quote that with a custom price.
The bottom line is that flat rates are one of the most effective methods of increasing profits for a service department, with limited customer push back.
Sell More Profitable Service Contracts
The first step to profitable service contracts is to measure how much they are costing (or earning) you per gallon. Many fuel companies use service contracts to attract fuel customers. These businesses expect to lose money on the contracts, which they hope to recapture through fuel sales. If that’s the case, you need to know your costs so you can set your fuel prices accordingly