We’ve all been there—you get a call from a new prospect for a small job, or to help them troubleshoot something someone else installed. For whatever the reason—you don’t have the time, the job is too small, you won’t make enough to warrant the expense of the service call, you’ve moved on to only doing jobs over (insert dollar figure here)—you turn it down, never giving it a second thought. I’ve done it dozens of times, probably knowing deep down I shouldn’t be, but I rationalize it with one of the previously listed excuses.
I recently received a call from someone who moved into a home we did almost 10 years ago when we were first getting started. At the time we did it, it was a huge job for us, but would now be considered a fairly basic set-up with six audio zones and five TVs, using three cable boxes, two of which are on HDMI distribution amps to serve two TVs each. The new homeowner just wanted to know how to use the system, troubleshoot a few speakers not working well and connect an AppleTV. Since it was a job we had done I felt some obligation to follow-up so I sent a tech over for a morning service call. He reported back to me on his discussions with the new owners and how they were looking for something easier to use and more integrated with their life (particularly iOS devices and Macs). I never miss an opportunity to up-sell, and jumped right into sales mode.
After a visit to the home, I have since installed an all new multi-room audio system, a new AVR and three new remotes and base stations. While not an enormous job, it was still several thousand dollars, and it turns out that the family also owns a beach home that was heavily damaged by Sandy. They want to completely upgrade the AV and control systems for the entire house. I have gone from a $200 sales call to jobs worth tens of thousands of dollars, all because I swallowed my pride, went out on a limb and sent over a technician who was trained to ask the right questions and opened the door for my follow up. Now I have done the initial apartment, will be doing the beach house, and have begun talks about the son’s apartment and the parent’s main home.
Another great example is just this past weekend, on a Friday night at 8 p.m., one of the integrators I work with through the Home Theater Rebuild, Mark Feinberg of Home Theater Advisors, got a call to troubleshoot a system in Manhattan. He was very tempted to say no—he’d just made a round of margaritas for his wife and himself and ordered in some delicious Mexican food. But business had been a little slow lately and the job was just a short $10 cab ride away. He put the margaritas on ice, the food in the oven to stay warm, and he headed on over.
When Mark got there, he was blown away—the client was a famous Hollywood actor. He had just moved into a new apartment with an already-installed home automation system. He was having trouble understanding the system and getting some features up and running. Mark spent an hour with him, showing him the basics and giving him what he needed to get through the weekend. He is now in the process of scheduling return visits for training and upgrades to the system, and has landed himself his first celebrity client, which can hopefully lead to more.
It just goes to prove the old saying that “no job is too small.” In reality, we all have the time and the manpower to take on even the smallest of service calls. You just never know what gold mine you could be passing up and handing right over to the next guy who did take that time. That one service call could be the difference between no sale at all, and the $10,000+ sale you landed—and for Mark, it was the jump from his middle class clientele into the big leagues.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.