It’s clear to me that in this day and age, the question “can I get a better price” is pretty much automatic in people’s minds when they get to the bottom line of a buying decision and see their number for the first time. And, you can’t blame them for that. After all, in the web world, shopping on-line means that the number is going to be a certain percentage off of ‘retail’ 99.9999% of the time….it’s not just a pleasant surprise anymore, it’s expected. The advent of outlet malls, along with the evolution of our large, chain, brick-and-mortar stores have also contributed to this automatic mind switch flip the very second that the number is presented. Big box stores move seamlessly from one sale to the next, to the next, to the next, no matter what the season, which holiday is at hand, which event (the Olympics, for example) is in the news, etc….etc….etc…and, c’mon….nobody walks into an automotive dealership, looks at the sticker price, and says, “OK, that’ll do. Let’s get the paperwork done so I can drive this one out of here”, (unless it’s one of those specialty cars that are scarce and will wind up being collectible).
So, here we are, HVACR technicians providing a customer with a repair price estimate after we’ve made our diagnosis, and….wait for it…..the question is asked. Perhaps in a polite manner, or, perhaps from what feels to us at the moment to be an almost combative approach on the customer’s part, but it’s there.
“Can I get a better price?”
“Is that the best you can do?”
“Can I get a discount?”
“What! Are you kidding? That can’t be right!”
“Holy Toledo! You people don’t need a gun!”
What we, as technicians, need to understand about this situation is that the customer is comparing an apple to an orange. They are conditioned by the factors and types of businesses mentioned above that the way the world works on pricing is that the ‘real’ price isn’t the first one presented. To them, it’s just a number to get things started. Their thinking is that nobody really pays retail anymore.
And, when we find ourselves dealing with this kind of situiation, we need to remember two things:
1. Hiding behind the “….well, yeah, I know it’s outrageous, but that’s the price my boss makes me charge….” schtick is just flat-out ugly and wrong.
2. There are only two reasons that somebody thinks a price is too high. Either they don’t have that much money, or they don’t believe that the product or service they’re in the process of purchasing is worth the price established for it. (You’ll notice that I didn’t say ‘asking price’. That’s because as service professionals, we’re not ‘asking’ to collect a certain amount of money for what we provide, we’re advising the customer about the price of the particular service they need and/or want.)
From a practical standpoint, there’s nothing that can be done if the reason is that they money just isn’t there…not in cash, not in a checking account, not in the form of an open-to-buy amount on a credit card, not able to borrow it from somebody…..nowhere. If that happens to be the case, you’re done. If it isn’t there, it isn’t there. The only thing you can do in this situation is collect your service call and diagnostic fee, advise your customer that you’ll be happy to follow up on the necessary repair if their circumstances should change, and move on to your next customer.
However, if the the second reason is what’s behind their “that’s-too-much” issue, then your job as a technical professional is to guide your customer to an understanding that your service is, in fact, worth the established price.
Learn from yesterday…..Live for today…..Look forward to tomorrow