D+AS MAGAZINE

FEATURES — DAS in Disguise

© 2001 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2001
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 40

DAS in Disguise

What Do You Charge For a Service Call?

Our Mission: We wanted to see how dealers handle inquiries for a residential service call.

Our Method: We called 10 dealers in 10 cities of varying size in 10 different states. We told them we were thinking about having someone look at our garage door.

"What do you charge for a service call?" we asked. If they inquired about our problem, we said, "The door is working okay, but it goes up slowly, and the operator makes a lot of noise."

Rates vs. Population?

The 10 dealers reported similar service call charges, ranging between $45 and $65. All charges covered the first hour of labor, except for the dealer in Florida. Their fee covered the first half hour of labor.

We thought that the charge might be higher in larger cities, but we found no correlation between the charge and the size of their primary market area (see chart). A dealer in a very small rural town in Louisiana, for example, had one of the highest rates, while a dealer in a larger urban area in Pennsylvania had one of the lowest rates.

Best Practices

We were impressed with the responses of some dealers. Noteworthy examples:
1. Four of them offered a helpful explanation for their rates, saying something like, "That charge covers our travel expense and all labor for the first hour. Parts, of course, are extra."
2. Half of the respondents displayed a genuine concern and asked for more details about the problem. One dealer even encouraged me to walk to the door and describe the problem over the phone.
3. Without resorting to scare tactics, three dealers warned me about the danger of broken springs and other hazardous situations.
4. Three dealers were openly and wisely cautious about announcing a definite diagnosis over the phone. "I need to see it to be sure."

Worst Practices

Half of our respondents didn't bother to ask about our door problem. We thought they missed a prime sales opportunity.

After all, we were a high-probability potential customer. (1) We already had a door problem. (2) We had identified their company as a solution to our problem. (3) We contacted them (and not their competitor).

If they exert a little effort and show an interest in our problem, they could easily reel in a new customer and a new service sale with a healthy profit margin. Some comforting words can yield a comfortable sale.

SERVICE CALL RATES RANKED*

Lowest to Highest Rates
(noting the Dealer's State and the Local Population)

1 (lowest rate)
Illinois
75,000 – 100,000

2
Pennsylvania
100,000 – 125,000

3
Colorado
5,000 – 15,000

4
California
25,000 – 50,000

5
Oklahoma
75,000 – 100,000

6
Tennessee
150,000 – 175,000

7
Florida
50,000 – 75,000

8
Washington
175,000 – 200,000

9
Louisiana
5,000 – 15,000

10 (highest rate)
Michigan
10,000 – 25,000

* All rates ranged between $45 and $65.