As integrators begin looking toward the start of a new year, the subject of RMR is top of mind for many. While it’s been a long, drawn-out battle for the CEDIA channel to find success with selling service plans, 2017 feels like the year that we may finally turn a corner. Conversations in the press as well as among industry peers indicate to me that home technology professionals at large are really starting to pay attention.
Conversations abound about how to properly structure service plans. How should they be priced? What types of benefits should they include? And do these plans have the potential to generate real revenue and profits? But in all of these conversations, not enough people are mentioning one of the key benefits to selling service plans: that the very act of offering them to our clients helps set realistic expectations about the upkeep and maintenance the system that they’re buying will require.
Members of the OneVision Resources team fields service calls
When presented with one of these plans, your clients have two simple choices: opt-in or opt-out. But the beauty of the situation is that no matter which path they choose, you have put yourself in a significantly better position.
Their decision to opt-in represents an implicit acknowledgement that their home technology system will require regular upkeep. By getting their agreement to pay you monthly, or yearly, for this service and support, you have not only set this proper expectation, but you have successfully shifted their perception of you. The change may seem subtle, but it’s significant. You have morphed into something much more than just their hired installer. You are now their home technology manager—a trusted source that they can turn to for help when things go wrong. This puts the value of the service you are providing in the spotlight where it belongs, and vastly reduces the amount of surprise and disappointment that your clients feel when they experience a technical problem.
If your client says “no” to a service, you are still in a better position than if you had not offered a service plan at all. Assuming that you are packaging some sort of RSM product into your service plan, then you are surely explaining to your clients the benefit of these products—instant/proactive remote support without the need to wait for a service technician. Clients who refuse this solution are effectively giving you a trump card you can play the next time they call in a panic because the TV isn’t working and the big game is about to start. “Well Mr. Client, best I can do is have someone come by on Monday. And, while we are there, we’d be happy to get you onto one of our service plans to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.” The vast majority of clients will have a much harder time saying “no” the second time around.
The act of selling service plans to your clients offers many benefits to your business. But in all of the talk about how to structure plans for maximum profits and uptake, it’s important not to fall into the paralysis-by-analysis trap. Remember that even the simple act of offering a basic, low-cost service plan to your clients carries a huge upside. By discussing service with your clients in this way, you are setting a realistic expectation about the often-fickle nature of home technology. This puts you in a significantly better position to earn and keep their trust, no matter what sort of technological glitches arise. By positioning yourself in this way, you plant the seeds for a long and mutually beneficial relationship between you and your clients.