Service Agreements Bolster Customer Loyalty

Miller’s Services aims to impress on the initial service call, then keeps customers coming back by enticing them with the benefits that come from signing up for service-agreement programs

Service Agreements Bolster Customer Loyalty

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To better retain customers, Miller’s Services of Saluda, Virginia, has established service-agreement programs for both customers with alternative septic systems and customers that use the company’s plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling services.

Customers can choose one program or the other or sign up for both and get $100 off the total cost. The septic system program is about 10 years old and the other program, called Total Care Club (TCC), was launched in early 2019, says Ashley Miller, general manager of the company.

“The success of the first program had a lot to do with starting the Total Care Club,” Miller says. “A lot of contractors use these kinds of programs, so we wanted to offer them to our customers as well. We keep the programs separate because not all of our customers have septic systems.”

Customers who enroll in the septic service program pay an annual fee. In return, they get an annual maintenance inspection; sampling service (if required); a 10% discount on septic system work; and two free diagnostic alarm calls. Miller’s Services also notifies the Virginia Department of Health that a system has been inspected and is in good operating condition; such reports are required by the state.

Technicians also take pictures of all components and of any maintenance procedures performed during the inspection and customers get a copy of the inspection report that’s filed with the state, Miller says.

By joining the TCC, customers get priority scheduling and guaranteed response times on service calls; a 10% discount on service work; and no evaluation fee for service work. Customers also receive two free maintenance inspections: one in spring for cooling and electrical systems and one in fall for heating and plumbing systems.

The company has about 2,000 customers out of a database of 20,000 signed up for the septic service agreement and/or the TCC. A team of service experts does the inspection visits, not route drivers, Miller says. Educating customers about their septic systems is key to getting them to sign up.

“It’s definitely a lot easier to work with homeowners that understand their system,” Miller says. “It helps them to understand that alternative septic systems really do require regular maintenance.

“It’s not just about the regulatory requirements. There are a lot of electrical and mechanical components, like pumps and control panels. So just like when you run into issues if you don’t change the oil regularly in a car, you’re going to start having problems without regular inspections.”

But the best reason for service programs is that they motivate customers to keep calling Miller’s Services instead of a competitor. It embodies the company’s one-stop-shop mentality of providing everything customers might need, all under one roof.

The programs did require the company to hire more employees to handle the extra office/administrative duties, as well as perform the field inspections. But overall, the customer-retention component still makes it worthwhile financially, Miller says. Of course, first providing great customer service is critical because no one will sign up for a service program if they have a bad experience on a service call.

“After we build rapport with customers and provide them with great service, they feel comfortable with us,” Miller says.

Read more about Miller’s Services in the May 2021 issue of Plumber magazine.


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