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The Art of Picking the Low Hanging Fruit

Think about the automotive repair business, have you ever seen a shop that advertises engines rebuilt on the main highway?  The franchises know where the volume is, where the profit is, where the money is so they aim at the low hanging fruit. Jiffy Lube, Mr. Tire; the majority of auto repair businesses leave the tough stuff to specialists, there is no unwritten rule except perhaps in your head that says you must take every service call that comes down the road. No, no, no! That’s not true, just today a call came in for a repair of a window air conditioner, “I’m sorry Ma’am we haven’t repaired them for thirty  years.”

“Well, who can I call?”

“Well I really don’t know Ma’am, I don’t know anybody that fixes them, you really should just throw it away”.

“But I don’t want to throw it away.”

Learn to be selective on when you say yes; pick and choose the low hanging fruit. Stay away from [the] poison, stay away from the jobs that I tell you will give you pain and heartburn. The old pros stay busy, carefully selecting their jobs and carefully selecting their customers so that they don’t get in trouble.

Most of the static and chatter on the web focuses on tough, miserable jobs that cause people lots of grief.

Isn’t it obvious that if you don’t try to fix those specific repairs that you will not get involved in all that agony, I mean its obvious right? Don’t do main bearing jobs, don’t do weirdo miserable brands, it’s stupid!

My mother often told the tale of her friend Elizabeth as a child who would fall to the floor and flail her arms and legs screaming, “I’d rather be dead than not know everything,” when she was frustrated that her mother wouldn’t tell her something; some secret.

Well that applies to us today, “I’d rather be dead than not fix everything,” isn’t it the same thing? It is so wise to just fold your tent and walk away from these junk calls and junks calls are everywhere, there’re tons of them!

Tell customers over the phone:

“I’m sorry; you need to go buy a new machine.”

“I’m sorry, that part is no longer available.”

“Well can’t you find me one on the web somewhere?”

“No, I can’t”

“Can’t you fix it? Can’t you rebuild it?”

“No I can’t.”

When the manufacturer makes it no longer available the machine is toast, it’s quite simple, we are just the messenger, if GE says that particular part is no longer available, tell the customer and you’re done!

It doesn’t matter what the customer wants you to do, you cannot manufacture the part yourself, period! They don’t like to hear it but that’s tough, tough beans, right? Back to the main point; this business is all about selection, job selection, picking the low hanging fruit. Now honestly have you ever seen a discussion on the web about picking and choosing desirable and undesirable jobs? No way! No way! It’s not up for discussion but it’s the most important concept in starting your new business is learning when to say, “No”, you have to do it if you’re going to succeed.  The old pros are so savvy and so wise that they know exactly which jobs to turn down but you as a new entrant do not have the experience to know which jobs to turn down. You need to learn which ones they are.

Good Luck When You Defy Me

Nick Faddis one of my star students called me up one time and he was crying and he said, “Harry I should have listened to you. I went ahead and tried to fix that washing machine and I can’t and now I have to give the customer all her money back.”

That’s what’s going to happen if you don’t pay attention to my sage advice, you’re going to regret it, so be a good listener please. Pay attention to me, give me a chance; it will save you so much pain and suffering.

So next we’re going to go on to some examples of hard ones and easy ones so that you can see what really happens out there in the appliance repair world.

Of course I realize that your experience level at this point is modest so we’re going to keep these sample jobs fairly simple but never the less [descriptive]. Let’s talk about some easy jobs; well some jobs are so easy that you shouldn’t be taking any money for them, let me give you an example:

An old lady calls up and she says, “Mr. [Raker] I want you to come out and tale a look at my freezer it’s not getting cold anymore.” And you say, “Well tell me about it” and they say, “Well it’s this chest type freezer that I got from Mom, I think it maybe forty/fifty (40/50) years old, I’m not sure. It’s kind of rusty and it runs all the time and it’s got a big ice ball on the side so I want you to come out because it doesn’t seem to be as cold as it used to be.”

It’s painfully obvious that this chest type freezer that’s forty (40) years old needs to be put in the dumpster right? ………..Easy job.

And then the busy maid calls up and she says, “Mr. [Raker] I want you to out I’m here at the house, the mansion house and the washer and dryer won’t work.”

“Both of them?”

“Yep, that’s right, the washer won’t come on and the dryer won’t come on. Everything was fine yesterday and now they won’t work.”

“Well think back, maybe you should check the circuit breakers because the washer and dryer don’t both break at the same time Ma’am.”

“Well I don’t know that, maybe.

I said, “Why don’t you get the maintenance guy there at the mansion to check that out and give me a call back.”

And then the home owner calls up and says, “The icemaker won’t work” and I say, “Well tell me a little bit about it” and the response is, “Well we had a wedding here this weekend, had a lot of guests and now the icemaker won’t work.”

I asked a couple questions and say, “Well it’s Monday morning and the guests just left last night and maybe the icemaker hasn’t had a chance to catch up. Why don’t you give it half the day, close the doors, put all the junk away in the kitchen and give it a chance to catch up before I come out there.”

“You really think so?”

These are examples of jobs that are so easy that you really would be irritating to customer to go to their house and collect a service charge for giving them what really should be free information.

Don’t you agree?

You will create more business in the long run by just being a nice guy and trying to help them out over the phone whenever you can. There’s plenty of business, you don’t need to collect a service charge on each and every service request.

Smart customers can accurately answer pointed questions and help you diagnose exactly what’s wrong over the telephone, it’s not so hard, of course if you’re dealing with elderly people who can’t accurately describe the situation or really need your help; run the service call, explain to them exactly what’s wrong, help them make a wise decision and collect your service charge.

These would be examples of jobs that require no tools and don’t forget this important factor; when they call a national company and get India how helpful do you think India’s going to be in providing accurate good information to that customer? All the answering service can do is set up a service call and send a technician out there who very likely may really irritate the customer because the information is so basic. We and you as a small company offering personal service and good advice can reinforce your value to the customer and genuinely help them out over the phone. You know that they’re going to put a great big star on your name and call you in the future right? Quickly communicating with the customer and genuinely having their best interest at heart gives you a huge advantage over an impersonal national company. They cannot compete with good, tight communications that you can offer, this is a huge advantage and don’t ever forget it.

Customers never forget a genuinely helpful voice on the phone, they will track you down and use you for the rest of their lives, you are invulnerable to competition.

So No to Hard Jobs!

Let’s talk about hard jobs.  What constitutes a hard job?

A hard job is one that the consensus of opinion is that it’s hard (duh) which means that it’s going to be risky, take a lot of time, it’s prone to call backs and more than likely is a job that you should turn down.

Now that’s easy to say but it’s hard for you to do and it’s also particularly hard for you to make this judgment when you don’t have very much experience and things get a little bit more complicated because when you’re new in the business as the new guy on the block you’re going to be offered a higher percentage of hard jobs when you first open your business than you will as the months and years go by.

And why is that?

The reason is is because customers are going to be turned down by numerous other companies and keep looking and looking and find you the new guy and offer this wonderful opportunity to you (chuckles), right! Opportunity my foot!

Hopefully we’re going to educate you so that you will know when to say, “No thank you Ma’am.” Smart insiders can sniff out a hard job and say no in an instant but a novice thinks, “Oh boy! I’m gonna make real money on this job” and then they wind up getting burned.

Let me give you an example or two of a hard job.

GE makes a wide line of appliances and their high end units are called ‘The Monogram Series.’ ‘The Monogram Series’ includes every bell and whistle that GE sells. Monogram refrigerators are notorious for having problems after problems. Once upon a time I was repairing a Kitchenaid dishwasher for an old customer and she was pleased and she asked me to look at her monogram refrigerator and I said, “Well I would have to decline that request Ma’am because I don’t know how to fix monogram refrigerators” and she paused and looked at me and she said, “it’s interesting you say that because I’ve had the GE guys out here six or seven (6 or 7) times and apparently they don’t know how to fix it either.”

Dacor Appliances are another stark example, my senior tech years ago pulled me in to bail him out when he was stuck repairing a Dacor wall oven, after a few cuts and scratches and more than a few hours we finally fixed the thing. When we left the customer’s house he looked me straight in the eye and he said, “Harry don’t you ever, EVER, take a Dacor call again!” My experiences with Dacor were awful and bad, they sent the incorrect parts, they sent parts that didn’t fit, they sent bad parts, it was just a horror story. As you proceed through this course you will be acquainted with varying degrees of marginal jobs versus poison, don’t get near it jobs; trust me it’s no secret, when I tell you it’s a hard job and not to do it, it’s common knowledge among the pros that you better not or you’re going to be mighty sorry.

It’s not my intent to discourage or frighten, my intent is to educate you so that you know where the mines are in the minefield as opposed to a novice cautioning you to be aware of Monogram refrigerators and Dacor ovens, it’s just a hint of what you’re going to learn in this program. So don’t be the least bit discouraged, the hard jobs represent the tiny percentage of what you’re going to see and they are easily avoided following my guidelines.

Most of the jobs easy to ordinary, the hard ones are in very small minority, they do get an awful lot of press particularly on the web where everybody complains and talks about this miserable fridge or that miserable washing machine but the seasoned wise old guys they just side step and forget about that stuff and send it to someone else.

The beauty of this program is is you don’t have to suffer all the learning curve you can act like a seasoned professional right from the get go.

I’d like to hear about a job that got you into deep trouble and your advice.

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