Gaining Customers for Life

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    By Jim D'Amico

    Undoubtedly, you have heard discussions throughout your time in business about gaining customers for life.  Easier said than done, unless you have a good plan and good systems in place. 

    If you are involved in the mechanical trades, especially the HVAC business, there are some critical components to getting and keeping customers.

    The following seven customer retention strategies will help:

    1. Be sure your installation work is top notch.  The equipment and system design make all the difference in the customer experience.  As you know, properly designed and installed equipment provides more comfort while operating more efficiently and cost effectively.  But it should also be aesthetically pleasing.  It needs to not only look good, even to the untrained eye, but equally important, it must operate quietly.  That sometimes rises to number two on the customer’s list of “must haves” right after the number one requirement, comfort.  And, it may mean more to the customer than cost of operation. So the old cliche’, “It all starts with the sale” is an important part of getting and keeping customers.  Make them happy from the start and the likelihood that you will maintain your customers for a very long time grows significantly.
    2. Provide thorough seasonal system tuneups.  It’s no secret that a properly-maintained system provides more comfort and lower energy bills through achieving the ultimate efficiency that the system was designed to deliver.  Therefore, it is vital to develop a service division capable of delivering seasonal tuneups to assure that customers achieve the comfort and efficiency they desire.  Keep your customers’ systems operating efficiently and you’ll keep your customers with you. 
    3. Provide on-demand service with trained technicians.  While properly installed and maintained systems break down less often, providing a trained technician equipped with the tools and parts to complete needed repairs when a system is down is vital to keeping your customers happy and calling you back year after year.  Your techs need to be good at troubleshooting to get to the root cause of a system breakdown quickly.  That takes training.  While it’s nice to think that you will be able to run an ad for an experienced technician and have a long list of qualified applicants, the reality is that you will likely need to look for a person with aptitude and desire and spend time and money training that person.  How important is training?  When building a customer base to generate repeat business, qualified help is imperative.
    4. Develop a maintenance agreement program.  Certainly, the best way to retain your customers is by delivering quality products and services. However, there is a psychological edge to having a customer sign a maintenance agreement with your company.  When a customer agrees to designate your company as their service provider, they have a higher degree of peace of mind.  And they will generally call you, and perhaps only you, for all of their add-on and replacement needs.  That’s a big advantage because generally, all things considered, a maintenance agreement customer will give your company seven to ten thousand dollars worth of business over a ten-year period.  The best (one or two-visit) maintenance agreement programs charge a fee slightly higher than a standard tune up fee.  The advantage for the customers is that they will receive the tune up and a discount on needed repairs, usually fifteen percent, and they can pay for the agreement on a payment schedule that meets their budget.
    5. Charge for your maintenance agreement monthly.  The easiest way for a customer to say “yes” to purchasing a maintenance agreement is to allow customers to pay for an agreement every month with a recurring charge to their credit card.  The customer is committed to accept the charge and they have peace of mind knowing your company is available if needed.  Customers tell us it’s much easier to budget a small payment each month than a large payment once a year.  Your monthly maintenance agreement should, according to its terms, renew automatically.  If customers pay annually, you may have to re-sell them on the value every year when you ask them for that large chunk of money.  If you want a system that will give you all the tools to market, sell, schedule, track, and keep your customers on board and on your maintenance agreement plan check out Coolfront Agreements.
    6. Have a live person answer your phone. This sounds old fashioned but when a customer has a breakdown or even just wants to discuss their account or a proposal you have provided, they like to talk to a person about their needs.  Leaving a message on voice mail and waiting for a return call makes people anxious when they are uncomfortable.  Discussing their issue with your office person helps to ease their mind and keeps them with your company because they recognize you are investing and prepared to deliver great service.
    7. Always using flat rate pricing to charge for service.  Customers don’t want surprises when your company is servicing their system.  A professionally-developed flat rate pricing system, used properly from the first phone call to the final invoice, keeps your customers informed about needed repairs.  Customers have a right to know upfront what a repair will cost and then make the decision whether to repair or replace.  The best way to assure that your customer is happy and your company makes your desired net profit on every call is by using flat rate on every repair.  Our Coolfront Mobile and Coolfront Books flat rate products will help you make a smooth transition into flat rate pricing for your company.  You can learn more at 


    Getting and keeping customers for life is not difficult if the customer’s needs are always in mind and your company follows a customer retention plan to deliver a great customer experience. Remember, it’s easier to keep a customer happy than it is to find a new one.  The seven steps above should help.

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