A recurring question that occurs all too often in the trade service industry is if a service call fee should be refunded. In short, the answer is no. Whether it’s called a service call fee, trip charge, diagnostic fee or something else, it’s a fee that should always be collected and kept by your company.
There are many reasons to not refund this fee, but the main one is because you charge the fee for a reason. If you want to refund the fee, it should be eliminated from your business strategy.
Why You Shouldn’t Refund It
Customers know that nothing is truly free, and they’re going to pay for it somehow. Unless you run a Free HVAC Charity, your customers know that they’re going to pay for your services one way or another. When you “credit” or discount the service call fee, customers are smart and they know they’re going to pay for it in the repair.
When you refund your service call fee, you’re telling your customers it was an unimportant charge to begin with. This is bad for two reasons:
- It’s bad for the industry. We don’t want to tell customers that there is no value in having a trained professional come out to their house and diagnose their system
- If the customer believes you were about to saddle them with that charge, you lose credibility.
As you certainly know, sending a trained service professional to a home or business isn’t free. When you refund the service call fee, you are always losing money. Even if your technicians are proficient salespeople, there will always be times when you’re losing money. It’s always going to be difficult to recoup that cost by charging more for repairs, and it’s not an exact science.
If you do want to provide some incentive for a customer going with you rather than with a competitor, you could discount the fee or just charge a smaller amount.
Why The Fee is Beneficial
A service call fee benefits you and the customer in so many ways. It helps your business recover the cost of taking the time to drive to the customer’s establishment, gas for the vehicle, mileage, and covers the technician’s wages.
The fee benefits the customer because this ensures they are getting a trained specialist inspecting the issue rather than someone who may just say they are. The customer will also have peace of mind knowing that someone is not only inspecting the issue at hand, but the professional can also inspect other areas that may not need repair at the moment, but could down the line and preventative maintenance could be done.
If you have further questions about what to call your service call fee, what to charge for it, or what to include in it, we’re happy to help!