Warranties, Labor Rates, Networking & Other Best Practices
Dealer roundtable at CE Pro 100 Summit 2012
How do you convince a client with a modest system to spend a considerable amount of money on an enterprise-grade network? Give them a money-back guarantee: To anyone whose network performance doesn’t improve dramatically, offer to switch them out.
How do you train your techs on IP networking? Integrator-friendly manufacturers often offer free generic training, and CEDIA has a solid curriculum in that category. Another suggestion? Use a CE-centric service provider such as Access Networks or WhyReboot to create some turnkey custom systems for a few clients … and learn from them.
If you have a minimum one-hour charge for every service call, and it just turns out you have to press a button, you won’t want to tick off the client by charging $100 (or whatever the rate) for a 5-minute visit. Go ahead and use the whole hour. Check the smoke detectors. Check the HDMI connections. Dust off the rack. They’re paying you for the hour, so give it to them.
One integrator with a security division and separate A/V business used to use two different insurance companies because security insurance tends to cost more than A/V. Then he discovered Security America, which scales the coverage so he saved $6,000 with the switch.
Looking for a good fleet-management/GPS system? Try Gotrack.com
One group went around the table with each person mentioning one thing they did in the past two years that really made a (positive) difference:
- Joined a buying group
- Started 1099ing employees
- Fired someone
- Discovered Liberty Wire, which ships wire in bulk but you only pay-as-you-go.
- Dropped lines to focus on just a few, just saying “no” to prospects who wanted something else.
For remote-monitoring and other services, instead of one-year agreements, offer three- and five-year plans with discounts for longer coverage. It’s good for cash flow.
Most manufacturer warranties pay only for product repairs, replacement, not the installer’s time. Warrantech will pay dealers for the labor on repairing and replacing defective product.
Charge a monthly fee to be at your customer’s service via Go To Meeting or some other Internet communications service. Give them an IP camera so they can show you any problem areas.
Sell network monitoring service contracts in packages based on every 10 devices in the home at $480 per package/per year.
At point of sale, introduce that the idea that the client is going to have three options for service plans at the end of the project. Do not give them any more details at that point. At the end of the job is when you lay out the details of the good/better/best program.
Non-complete laws vary state-by-state. One dealer institutes employee contracts with programmers and engineers, but not technicians. It includes a non-compete for three years and the inability to work for a competitor within a 60-mile radius. Another notes that non-competes must be presented at time of employment and must be “in exchange” for something, such as sending them to programming educational courses.