What to Call it: Diagnostic Fee, Service Call Fee, Trip Charge?

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    By Phil Sennett


    When using flat rate pricing on service calls with systems such as Coolfront, we recommend charging for the travel to the customer’s house and the first 15 minutes on the job.

    But there is great debate among plumbing, HVAC, and electrical contractors over what to call this initial fee, a diagnostic fee, service call fee, trip charge, or something else?

    Let’s explore our two cents on some options…

    Trip Charge – Our advice? Never use this term. You’ve got to build value in order to be successful and grow profits. It is almost impossible to build value into the term “trip charge,” which sounds to the homeowner as if they’re reimbursing you for gas money. That’s not the kind of image you want to display to your customers.

    Diagnostic Fee – This term is best used by HVAC contractors. It promotes a value in the charge because a heating and air conditioning system is very complex. This ensures the homeowner that time will be spent searching out the cause of their system malfunction and diagnosing a solution.

    The term “diagnostic fee” doesn't work as well for plumbing and electrical contractors, however. For those trades it is suggested that they use the following term…

    Service Call Fee – For plumbing and electrical contractors we most recommend using the term “service call free”. Since most homeowners already know the issue with their electric or plumbing, a technician does not need to spend much time diagnosing, but rather confirming the issue. By calling the fee a plumber or electrician “service call fee” a contractor is now in a position to explain exactly what it will cover.



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