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Stop Offering Annual Support!

Please go through any of your RMR programs and delete the words “annual renewal” out of your documentation.

Stop Sign
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I talk to integrators a lot. It may shock you to know that occasionally I bring up the subject of 24/7 support with them [full disclosure: I’m a co-founder of Parasol]. These conversations usually revolve around understanding how different companies are implementing aftercare in their businesses. I learn a lot from these interactions and continuously implement changes in our programs at Livewire based on what I learn. There is, however, something I hear more than I’d like to — and it feels like nails on a chalkboard every time it gets brought up. The interaction goes something like this:

Me: “Tell me about your sign-up process.”

Integrator: “We include the first year of support with every proposal.”

Me: “That’s great! What happens on Day 366?”

Integrator: “We call them and ask if they want to renew.”

Me: “What’s your renewal rate?”

Integrator: “Most of them decide not to renew.”

Me: “Most? How many is most?”

Integrator: “Like 89 out of 100”

Me: “Hmmm.”

Can you figure out where my buddy went wrong? Five points to Gryffyndor if you can.

Support should be a subscription from Day 1. My buddy can bundle the first year of support all day long but should also be capturing their credit card information during final installation using a system like we use at Livewire. This would allow a one-year coupon code to be entered and then paid support can begin uninterrupted at month 13. Instead of thinking of it as an annual renewal, my buddy should be looking at it as a monthly relationship, where the client perceives they can cancel anytime (hint: they won’t).

Also by Henry Clifford: They Ask You Answer – Filling A Power Vacuum

Going back to a client one year later and asking for another chunk of change to pay for something they may or may not perceive they derived benefit from during the prior year is a fool’s errand. Capturing the client’s payment information Day 1 and sending them monthly emails showing how much behind the scenes TLC they’re getting means they won’t even think about canceling on Day 366. They’ll be hooked and loving your service.

Do me a favor. Please go through any of your RMR programs and delete the words “annual renewal” out of your documentation. Make everything monthly and reward years of commitment with discounts on hardware upgrades. Don’t even think about calling your client, hat in hand, next year grubbing for a service renewal.

Will today be the day you stop offering annual support?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.

Henry Clifford is president of Livewire, an integration firm in Richmond, VA. He also serves on the CEDIA Business Working Group and writes a bi-monthly blog for Residential Systems.