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If your home service company has gotten into the flat rate pricing game, then you know the challenges that can come with charging a diagnostic fee. 

When there’s an issue in the home, performing a diagnostic allows service technicians to fully assess a homeowner’s system and identify what the problem is, what the root cause is, as well as any other existing issues. If you haven’t already implemented a diagnostic into your process, then we have a few tips to get you started!

  • Keep your diagnostic charge competitive
  • Spend time diagnosing and troubleshooting potential issues
  • Don’t add miscellaneous fees to your diagnostic

By taking the time to understand the problem or fault at hand, a tech can provide the customer with the most accurate estimate for their repairs. The difficult part? Charging homeowners for this service.  

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Address Customer Hesitation Correctly  

Home service provider showing customer pricing options

If you include a diagnostic fee in your service process, you’re most likely aware that customers often balk at this type of service charge. You’ve even probably had a customer say something along the lines of: “no actual work has been done yet, what am I paying for?”

When met with hesitation like this, some techs may waive the diagnostic fee in fear of losing the sale. But in the best interest of your customer (and your bottom line), you should instead express the value of this service to your customer and offer them multiple options. 

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Show Value to the Homeowner 

Service is not a tangible item – making it difficult to assess its value. That’s why it’s imperative for you to spell out the tasks involved in a professional diagnosis before you complete them for the customer. The more thorough you are in your diagnostic assessment, the more value and expertise you’ll convey to the homeowner. 

Just ask the right questions and clearly communicate any valid concerns, and your customer will not question the fact that you’re charging a diagnostic fee.  For example, ask the customer:

  • Have you heard any unusual noises coming from your pipes or water heater?
  • What year was the home built?
  • Have there been any changes to your water usage?

It’s also imperative your customer understands that a diagnostic will save them money in the long run! By paying a qualified technician for a proper diagnosis, your customer will get an expert’s evaluation of what’s wrong, and how to fix it.

Ultimately, your customer will spend less money paying to accurately diagnose the problem than blindly making repairs based on a guess of what could be wrong.  

Offer Valid Options 

If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that consumers love having options. Once you’ve performed a diagnostic, be sure to offer your customer several options for resolving any issues you may have found. Why? Because when you offer options, your customer will choose something better than the basic repair 60% of the time. Here’s a great example of how someone in the HVAC industry can professionally present options to the homeowner: 

HVAC Pro:  

“Hi Mrs. Jones, I’d like to go over some options with you based on my diagnosis. 

 I’ve diagnosed that your unit has a bad capacitor, so it’s critical that we replace this capacitor today to get your cool air up and running. 

I also recommend replacing the contractor today since it will likely need to be replaced soon and we can save you some money by replacing it today, instead of on another service call.

And Mrs. Jones, I also noticed that the unit is very dirty, and we can make it run like new by doing a coil cleaning in addition to replacing the capacitor and contractor. 

Which option works best for you today?” 

In this example, the HVAC pro does a great job of presenting three separate options to their customer without pressuring them to choose a specific option. Rather, the HVAC pro explains the value of each option and reminds the customer that the proposed services will need to be completed eventually and can be less costly when executed at the same time as other services. 

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Charging a diagnostic means a change in your operations, and change can be uncomfortable at first! Just remember that a correct analysis of the problem is not only what your customers want, it’s also profitable.  

By spending the time to perform a solid diagnosis, address potential faults, and communicate options clearly to your customer, you can feel confident that you’re charging diagnostic fees like a pro. 

If you want to increase profitability even more, consider adopting Service Fusion’s digital flat rate pricing tool into your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical business. Flat rate software was designed to give home service pros complete control of their flat rate pricing, increase their average ticket, and better manage their pricing structure.

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