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Discussion Starter #1
How do you folks handle when a customer schedules a service visit, confirmed in the morning, and service van shows up and nobody is home, nobody answers the door?

Send a bill? Eat it?

In this case I have a rental agency, a relatively new customer of mine, who sends me the contact information of their tenants who need service, and I contact and schedule with the tenant for the work that needs to be done. The agency is the one paying, but I can't imagine they will be thrilled with getting a bill for services not rendered.
 

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Small Potatoes
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5,460 Posts
How do you folks handle when a customer schedules a service visit, confirmed in the morning, and service van shows up and nobody is home, nobody answers the door?

Send a bill? Eat it?

In this case I have a rental agency, a relatively new customer of mine, who sends me the contact information of their tenants who need service, and I contact and schedule with the tenant for the work that needs to be done. The agency is the one paying, but I can't imagine they will be thrilled with getting a bill for services not rendered.
Are you "thrilled with" wasting your time on a no-show? You bill them. If they give any push back, you dump them.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg of the crap you're going to put up working for rental companies.

Do work as a prime only. No GC's, real estate agencies, management companies or landlords.
 

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Beam Me Up Scotty
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We call when were are about to go on route....if they don't pick up we go elsewhere
We usually show up 10 minutes early. Usually for appointments with other parties showing up, we wait until the appointment time. If they're still not there, we call them. We wait 15 minutes, and if after the 15 minutes past the appointment time they're still not there or don't call us back, we leave.

The odd time we do get a call back in the 15 after the scheduled time, and they say they're gonna be there at x time but on their way, we inform them they are being charged from the scheduled time. Doesn't matter if they're 2 minutes away , 20 or even an hour. It's billed.

If we leave with no answer and no show, it's added onto the next call for them, although we only do residential most of the time, I feel for commercial we would charge a service call rate or the hourly minimum.
 

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Gold Pliers Champion
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Send a bill or you're stupid.
 

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The reality is this should have been handled by your dispatcher before the vehicle even leaves your shop. Via electronic call out fee. Typically $45-$75 dollars depending on your market area. I don't do enough service calls to go thru it that way myself, but if I stop wiring big things and go for small jobs only that is gonna be the route I use. I used to have it that way.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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10,436 Posts
There's four parties involved, the owner, the agent, the tenant, and you. None want to be bothered and all want their money. If you pick up a headache and don't make money, you lose the game. This is exactly why you need to set a minimum, agree to it in advance, and if at all possible collect that when you schedule the appointment.

This is exactly the same as if you went in, reset a GFCI, and went on your way. The minimum isn't to punish them for them being too clueless to reset a GFCI or punish them for being inconsiderate of your time, it's just business to keep you making money.

I have to set my minimum pretty harsh. I am a one man shop and always busy so killing my time really costs me. Sometimes I manage to shuffle and it doesn't hurt the day's money too much, maybe an hour. In these cases I think it can be sound business to cut them a break at the end of the day. But I'd collect the full minimum for the day's boondoggle, and rather than a partial refund, cut them a credit they can put towards the next job.
 

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Chief Flunky
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My service calls are usually 1-3 hours drive time each way. We bill on no shows but those are rare. Dispatch usually confirms the day before or day of. Depending on the customer I call when I’m 10-30 minutes out. I ask things like where to park, which gate, who am I meeting. Stuff dispatch often gets wrong since they just have billing info. I love it when I get the address of a mail box or the accounts payable office. And we can’t bill for wasted road time.

Industrial plants sometimes get billed even when it’s not a no show. A common one for us is a call to get there ASAP at 4:30 PM to say align and wire up a motor. Now mind you their maintenance crew hasn’t even started removing the old one yet. And they won’t even start since it’s shift change. And they haven’t even tore down the equipment yet with say a bad bearing. So by say 8:00 PM they order the bearing dedicated courier that will take “4 hours”. Then it gets there at 2 AM but the maintenance crew is on other jobs...so shift change! So maybe by 10:00 AM on the next day the motor is in place and alignment and wiring can begin. But techs had to sleep in their trucks because they were going to be ready real soon. So that’s all a big fat overtime charge and paying for essentially 12-16 hours of “work” when we could have had the guy on standby or there at 8:00 AM in the morning knowing full well they weren’t going to be ready until then.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just an update. Had a nice conversation with the owner of the company. I sent the invoice by email and then followed up with a call. They agreed right away to pay the invoice and they understood that we only sent it because we scheduled that time slot for them. I also touched on something the owner told me in a text -“please give me aggressive pricing, we own 192 properties and can feed you work.” I responded to that while on the phone with a respectful we are currently not having any trouble filling a 40 hour work week with work at our current rates, and to drop our rates just in hopes of securing a client with lots of work would be a significant drop in our business income. Basically told him nicely that wouldn’t be in our best interest and if he was ok with our service rates as they stand we’d treat him to some priority service so his tenants can get their issues fixed as soon as possible, but lower rates were not an option. Told me he was very happy with the service we had already provided up to that point and would continue to use us.

The no show lady ended up getting rescheduled and it was an easy fix, got paid and it’s all good.
 

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Small Potatoes
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Just an update. Had a nice conversation with the owner of the company. I sent the invoice by email and then followed up with a call. They agreed right away to pay the invoice and they understood that we only sent it because we scheduled that time slot for them. I also touched on something the owner told me in a text -“please give me aggressive pricing, we own 192 properties and can feed you work.” I responded to that while on the phone with a respectful we are currently not having any trouble filling a 40 hour work week with work at our current rates, and to drop our rates just in hopes of securing a client with lots of work would be a significant drop in our business income. Basically told him nicely that wouldn’t be in our best interest and if he was ok with our service rates as they stand we’d treat him to some priority service so his tenants can get their issues fixed as soon as possible, but lower rates were not an option. Told me he was very happy with the service we had already provided up to that point and would continue to use us.

The no show lady ended up getting rescheduled and it was an easy fix, got paid and it’s all good.
Good deal, glad it worked out for you. Do you charge T&M? How much do you charge?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Good deal, glad it worked out for you. Do you charge T&M? How much do you charge?
Yes, for service work. I try to quote work where its new install because we can usually get better rates when we know what we are getting into ahead of time, but for service work, it just doesn't make sense to try to quote a troubleshooting job.

Service van goes out for 125/hr minimum 1 hour. Considering a 150 min but we are already sitting around the top of what the local market is charging.
 

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Small Potatoes
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Yes, for service work. I try to quote work where its new install because we can usually get better rates when we know what we are getting into ahead of time, but for service work, it just doesn't make sense to try to quote a troubleshooting job.
Does the $125/hr minimum include some time to troubleshoot? In other words, if it takes 30 minutes to get to the customer, do you give them the remaining 30 minutes to troubleshoot?

Service van goes out for 125/hr minimum 1 hour. Considering a 150 min but we are already sitting around the top of what the local market is charging.
When you say "what the local market is charging", does that mean you base your pricing structure on what your competitors are charging?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Does the $125/hr minimum include some time to troubleshoot? In other words, if it takes 30 minutes to get to the customer, do you give them the remaining 30 minutes to troubleshoot?



When you say "what the local market is charging", does that mean you base your pricing structure on what your competitors are charging?
Yes. The first hour is just that - if 30 minutes drive, then 30 minutes to troubleshoot/repair. We are fortunate that we are in a smallish city and very centrally located so rarely is drive more than 10 minutes.

The second part of your question- I started out figuring out how much I needed to charge to make my gross profit goals per hour, but was significantly lower than the other guys. I ended up raising them to match, and then realized I could
go even higher but when I say what prices the local market supports, I mean most people here will not accept the service rate if it’s much higher than what we charge. I am working on finding ways to increase the initial call out fee. Already have on anyone who is a net30+ to $215- but these are commercial accounts and i tend to avoid those facilities maintenance calls in favor of quicker paying stuff.
 
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