Asking the Customer to Buy

Technicians are skilled experts and, as such, have to make recommendations to customers about what needs to be done to take care of issues. But that’s not where it stops. As an expert, the technician also has to help the customer figure out how to get it done. This means they have to recommend a solution and then ask the customer to do it. Many times, we see the tech asking the customer to buy too soon, too vaguely, or not at all. Some techs assume the customer knows what to buy and when to buy it. By asking too soon, too vaguely, or not at all, the tech risks getting into awkward territory with the customer, making it hard for them to recover. This continues the cycle with the next customer.

Here are three things to do to make sure you can ask for the order at the right time in the right way.

  1. Be Confident – Confidence comes from your knowledge, experience, and training. You should always be looking to increase your knowledge through reading and studying the technical processes of your trade. Also, study and master the customer communication skills you should be using every day. You’ll gain experience over time and can use the collective experience of other techs. Training helps you gain knowledge and practice of the skills you are learning. All of these things lead to a more confident attitude. Customers are more likely to buy from someone with confidence.
  2. Build Value – This point is about the timing of asking for the order. You must build value through your process. Raise awareness first, then stimulate. Use a color-coded checklist so you can be thorough. Educate the customer about the issues or products with evidence of why they need them. Always act ethically. Once you’ve stimulated the issue, the customer will have some level of desire to eliminate the issue. Once there is a desire to eliminate, offer solutions in the form of options. By doing these things in order, you build value. Only after you have built value should you ask the customer to buy.
  3. Be Direct – Too often, we see techs that are confident and build great value but fail to ask directly for the sale. It usually sounds like, “so what do you think of these options?” or something similar. You are not asking for the customer’s opinion about the options, you are asking them to buy one of them! Ask directly for what you want, like this, “I can do this work now. Should I get started?” or something similar. This is how you ask directly for what you want.

Asking for the order is the result of a great service call with a great process that allows you to show confidence and build value. After doing those things, be sure to ask the customer directly for what you want. Remember that you are the expert and would never ask the customer to do anything that isn’t in their best interest. Ask for the order knowing that you are an expert that can help. Don’t be afraid!

Chris Elmore is the Operations Director of Service Excellence Training. He leads the coaching team of SET and delivers front line coaching and consulting to clients.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

How to Adapt to the New Normal

There is going to be a new normal. The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has caused businesses to either re-examine how they do business or cease to exist. Companies that try to return to business, as usual, will face a harsh reality.  

Companies are working to find ways to protect their employees and their businesses. Even businesses that were in the unique position to do well are realizing the gaps in their structure due to outdated and inefficient processes. While some businesses are focused solely on survival, others are taking advantage of this opportunity to update and change their procedures.

  • Look for ways to reduce your technician’s time in the field. Are there tasks they can perform before arrival to minimize their time in the home?
  • Investigate and fix problems in processes. Look at ways to automate workflows or manual processes in your company. Minimizing the time spent on manual processes can add significantly to profit margins. This will also allow employees to accept work that may be more challenging and of higher value to your company.
  • Update your policies and procedures to reflect the changes to your company’s processes that you have implemented. This will save you time and money when training new or existing employees.  

Do you need a person in your office from 8 to 5? If you have someone there strictly for deliveries, is there a way to change this? Most companies are sending invoices, bills, and notifications via email. While you are at it, do you need the office space you have? The concept of an open office workspace is no longer an option. 

  • Is it financially and logistically an option to modify this?
  • Look outside of our industry. Home health care, pest control, food delivery services, to name a few. What changes have they made that you can implement in your own business?

Consider outsourcing. Imagine being able to hire the best in the country, not just the best in your area. 

  • When implemented correctly, outsourcing certain positions and tasks within your company is seamless, providing your customers with the same level, if not better, of service they were receiving before. Again, this will allow your employees to take on tasks that will generate more revenue for your company.  
  • Realize that change is hard. To keep your employees engaged, be sure to communicate with them regarding changes that may affect them. Get their input. What worked, what they struggled with. How can the changes that your company is implementing alleviate these challenges?

There is a quote by Jim Rohn that I think is very fitting in today’s world:

 “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

We all hope we don’t have to go through another situation like this. I urge you to take the time to study your company and make the changes needed to guarantee your success in the future. We will face crisis again, whether it be a regional weather emergency or a worldwide pandemic. The difference between the companies that survive and those that don’t is their ability to accept that change will happen and their response to it. Do not leave your success to chance.


Lynn Wise is the Founder and CEO of Contractor in Charge.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Far Horizons

Type faster!

It’s been three weeks since my third child was born, which means the 24 hours in every day which were already packed full are now even shorter because every two hours, he’s ready to eat (nurse)…minus 30 minutes, then burp, minus five minutes, then poop…well if it’s an explosion, that could subtract off a lot of minutes…and by this time, I only have an hour before he wants to do it all over again. So, in that one hour which used to be two hours, I now sit to quickly type my article for you while struggling to maintain relevance. 


Sorry for the pause; he woke up. 


Great companies are built on far horizons. “We are here to build a company that will last longer than you and me.” Thomas Watson, former CEO, IBM.

Good management is not about the state of things as they are today; it’s about the state of things as they will be tomorrow.  

What do we want our tomorrow to look like? 

Remember many years ago when you could buy a disposable camera? Even better, remember when you had a camera and you had to make special trips to Walmart to purchase film before heading to a job site so you could take pictures, then dropping off the film and waiting for it to develop to show the customer? Or better yet, remember when you no longer had to wait multiple days for the film to develop because ‘one-hour processing’ was the new thing? 

And speaking of film, who do you think of…Fuji? Possibly, but…most likely, Kodak. 

Did you know, Kodak invented digital images? Not only did they know there was a way to go digital instead of film, but they invented it! Yet when it came time to pull the trigger, they lacked the confidence to make the shift. They failed to change with the times.

One of the key difficulties of being an entrepreneur is dealing with the decisions you need to make. Going into this pandemic two months ago, we all faced many new insecurities, and there were security measures we could have instilled to have been in a better position.  

Some of the changes that we have all implemented during the pandemic may be worth keeping as we head into the summer months, leaving us on the far-horizon-style foundation. It isn’t too late to make even more changes as we move ahead.  

Here are four steps to think ahead to far horizons:

1. Build a safety net so you can make decisions from a position of strength, not from a position of weakness. That way, you aren’t blindsided when the next disaster or hard time strikes (looking at you, “murder hornets”). We all want cash in the bank; that’s why we’re in business. Build safety in your bank account, within your team, and within your group of trusted advisors. 

2. Pull the trigger. We will never be 100% ready for every change that comes our way; make an educated, thought out decision, and then go with it confidently. Course correct if you realize down the road you made a wrong choice. 

3. Manage for tomorrow, not for today. Today is already in the past by the time you do something. Push forward and anticipate tomorrow, even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned. If you don’t plan for tomorrow, it might leave you in the dust.  

4. Don’t stop marketing, even in bad times. While marketing can get expensive, there is plenty that you can do to stay in front of your market and stay relevant without spending a fortune. Market to the people; market to who your customer is, because let’s face it, people need things and will spend money, bad times or not (even during the quarantine, the open stores were packed all the time).  

As I look out to my far horizon, I’m hoping I’ll spot you there.  


Written by Danielle Putnam, President of The New Flat Rate and Immediate Past President of Women in HVACR

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Only Go Forward

Here it is, May of 2020. We are still in the middle of Pandemicville. Covid-19 has turned the world up-side-down…turned lives upside-down, and it is not over yet. So, Only Go Forward. We will get through it! There is no other choice. It cannot be wished away, a head in the sand approach accomplishes nothing, and getting angry at all the inconveniences is a waste of human energy.

Think of something funny….laugh a little bit…laugh a whole lot. Only Go Forward. I was at a local grocery store. I witnessed a guy take off two belts, lash three grocery carts together, and pull through the store. All were heaping full. One was toilet paper and sanitizer. It was organized very nicely into a giant pyramid. King Tut would have been proud. I laughed a bunch. You have got to be kidding! I bet this guy’s garage is packed full of this stuff. Really? It is not the end of the world. The “flu bug” hits somewhere every year. So, We Only Go Forward.

We Only Go Forward; Four powerful words that can change lives.

“Never Look Back….Never Give Up…Remain Positive” are eight powerful words that can change lives. That frankly, have changed lives. To date, these eight words have changed life for the better for over 65 lives and families.

Those eight words are the operating mantra of Joe Groh as he started the with a laser focus on helping the contracting trades. This is the only foundation of record that is dedicated to contractors. Joe Groh is living with quadriplegia. Joe had a bicycle accident on Father’s Day 2008, suffered major spinal cord trauma at C4, and now lives in a wheelchair or bed. He has no movement of limbs from the neck down.

And yet this incredible man, with the support of a very amazing and incredible family, accomplishes more on Monday morning than some folks with full use of limbs accomplish all week. You see, this man lives for his foundation, he lives to assist those in the professional and essential service contracting field that must face head-on, life-altering illnesses or accidents. And sometimes those accidents or illnesses have happened to family members, which may make it even more difficult. The foundation supports family members of anyone in the contracting trades as well.

At the time of his accident, Joe, having been thrown over the handlebars of his bicycle, laid on the ground and realized something terrible had happened to his body. He realized at that moment that his life would never be the same. And shortly after knowing help was on the way and a short pause to feel sorry for himself, Joe, this amazing man, formulated his creed – “Never Look Back, Never Give Up, Remain Positive.”

Service Roundtable and Service Nation Alliance have chosen the Joseph Groh Foundation as their official charity to support. And Service Roundtable and Alliance members for over a decade have stepped up, making positive financial results a reality for this foundation. Each person and company that contribute plays a significant role in contracting families in need of assistance; families and people who look just like us.

Your donations allow the foundation to Only Go Forward and serve those with the greatest need within our family of contractors.

An example of our contractor family generosity happened in San Diego at the International RoundTable Conference. Ken Goodrich, the owner of the Goettl family of companies, has long been a supporter of the Joseph Groh Foundation. He made an impassioned plea to help a young man and his family needing a wheelchair accessible converted van. The response was overwhelming; the contributions added up. And then, Ken graciously matched the funds raised. Dollar for Dollar. WOW, talk about Only Go Forward. Talk about unconditional support.

Another example is Dave Squires with On-Line Access, a Roundtable Reward partner, who agreed to refresh and maintain the Joseph Groh Foundation website at no charge to the foundation. And then we have Scott Boxer, who many of you may know from your Lennox and Service Expert experience, makes a more than generous donation to the foundation. Scott’s generosity provides a foundation for us to continue helping people for some time in the future.  

In the difficult times we are all now experiencing, every act of kindness, every act of generosity, every smile, and every dollar makes a difference. Remember the importance of those instances when working with your employees, your customers, your family, your community, and your industry.

Yes, we are seeing many difficult situations now. But the contracting industry is dedicated to Only Go Forward. And the continues its journey to Only Go Forward and assist those contractor families in need due to an unforeseen accident or illness.  

No family should have to deal with the level of hardship a life-altering accident or illness causes. Medical cost is a major reason for personal financial disruption and bankruptcies. The Foundation recommends everyone should have Short Term-Long Term Disability insurance as a very inexpensive protection for the unforeseen. Businesses should make it a standard benefits package addition.

Make yourself a promise. Only Go Forward. The majority of companies we talk to are having their best months and best quarters ever for revenue. So if that is you, donate the You are successfully navigating difficult waters, so help the Joseph Groh Foundation help members of our family navigate much more difficult, extremely difficult, unimaginably difficult waters.

Written by John and Vicki LaPlant

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Choose High Profitability!

Anthony Iton is an African Canadian who moved to Baltimore in pursuit of a medical degree in 1985. Soon after arriving in Baltimore, he saw the blighted neighborhoods of East Baltimore. He said, “I thought somebody had dropped bombs on the place.” It was an experience and injustice that would drive his future. 

Fast forward to the early 2000s. Iton, in addition to his medical degree, had accumulated a law degree, a graduate degree in public health, and taken the position of Public Health director for Alameda County in California.

Motivated by the experience in East Baltimore, Iton became fascinated with life expectancy from neighborhood to neighborhood. On average, was there a difference in life expectancy between a well-to-do neighborhood and a nearby more depressed one?

Iton discovered that the county’s death certificates had all the data needed to run a study. There’s a huge difference in life expectancies. Iton contrasts Shaker Heights, an affluent Cleveland suburb with a depressed Cleveland neighborhood four miles away. He found a 23-year life expectancy difference between the two! 

Why were people in blighted neighborhoods dying so much earlier than their affluent counterparts!?

Poor housing, lack of a good education, lack of good jobs, lack of good health care, too much crime, unhealthy food, and many other similar reasons do make a difference. But not a 23-year difference. (These factors were validated in Iton’s research). 

The primary reason people were dying earlier was a lack of control over what was happening to them. It was all of the above reasons and more. Overall, they caused chronic stress. And chronic stress kills.

This story is taken from the book Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, by Dan Heath. The following public health parable explains upstream thinking.

You and a friend are having a picnic by the side of a river. Suddenly you hear a shout, a child is drowning. Without thinking, you both dive in, grab the child, and swim to shore. Before you can recover, another child cries for help. You and your friend jump in and help her as well. Kids are now floating down the river in mass. Suddenly, your friend exits the water, seemingly giving up. “Where are you going?” you demand. “I’m going upstream to tackle the guy who is throwing all these kids in the water.”

The equivalent to Iton’s life expectancy in the world of contracting is profitability. One lack-of-leadership or operational factor isn’t responsible for its demise, many are. In both cases, life expectancy and profitability, chronic stress caused by a lack of control, kills.  

The solution to increased life expectancy in neighborhoods and profitability are both found upstream*. 


Begin With The End in Mind

As a business owner, whether or not you intend to sell the company now or in the future, you should run it as if you will. In upstream thinking, you’re up in the mountains where the snow begins to accumulate. Once this notion is firmly anchored in your mind, the next step is to set up procedures, processes, and systems. You’re now down the mountain far enough where the snow begins to melt. Finally, you take action and put the procedures, processes, and systems into play. This is where the water runs off the mountain into the stream.

It is entirely possible for a business owner to figure this all out and take action on their own. It takes 11,000 pounds of rocket fuel burning per second to get Nasa’s Space Shuttle to break free of Earth’s gravity – so anything is possible.

As a business owner, no matter where you are in the evolution of your company, it’s never too late to begin with the end in mind. And it’s never too late to implement procedures, processes, and systems. Here’s the key: You don’t have to build the rockets, amass 2.2 million pounds of rocket fuel, attach the Space Shuttle, and blast off all on your own. Breaking free of the gravity/stress caused by your business is best accomplished with the help of others!

Although they’re not rocket scientists, the Service Nation Alliance is a compilation of stress-busting contractors, ex-contractors, and other passionate people who have tons of experience, not only in where the snow forms, but as it travels down the mountain and where it enters the stream. 

Choose a massive reduction in stress. Choose to flourish. Choose high profitability. Choose the Service Nation Alliance today!

 *Read Upstream to see how Tony Iton traveled upstream to improve life expectancy in blighted neighborhoods.   


Dave Rothacker is an author and specializes in Idea Cultivation for Go Time Success Group.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!