In the Vietnam War the average US soldier expended 50,000 rounds of ammo to kill one enemy soldier whereas a trained sniper could get the job done using, on average, 1.3 rounds. That’s like putting a guy with an F150…hooking his yellow, nylon, Wal-Mart tow rope to the bumper cover of an Avalon…next to a trained tow truck operator.
But of course customers have a hard time making that distinction.
Their much more interested in what you’re going to charge rather than what it takes to maintain availability. So to understand we’ve got to take a step back, and empathize with those who pay us. Think about what it is that you do and try to look at it from the customer’s point of view.
Let’s use an arbitrary number like $50 for a service call. Just assume you’re charging $50 for an unlock. What the customer sees when you arrive to unlock their car is you…in your uniform…with your equipment and the 2 minutes it takes for you to get into their vehicle.
They won’t even consider the tow truck that brought you there because; “you didn’t use it to unlock my car.” Nor will they be impressed with your years of training and experience in the towing and recovery industry, the expenses to maintain your trucks, your insurance premiums or the hours you’re forced to work. None of that will matter.
Of course they’re thankful and happy to get their keys back…but once you’re gone, sometimes while you’re still standing there, they’ll question the value received.
It’s easy to do the math. They’ll whip out their Iphones and use the calculator to figure that if you can do one unlock every 2 minutes then you could do 30 in an hour…which would earn you about $1500 per hour. That’s better than lawyers and doctors make, they’ll say, as they seethe with jealousy.
Whether we know it or not, we’re in a constant battle to justify our rates not only because of the ignorance described above but also due to the propaganda they’re spoon fed by those with a vested interest in keeping them that way, motor clubs and insurance companies. These slime seek to drive a permanent wedge between us and our customer…But that’s for another discussion.
So what do you do? Do you carry with you a list of all your expenses in a handy pocket-sized laminated 3×2 card? It could delineate annually, expenses and the average number of calls you respond to and they could again do the math to see that your rates are justified. This would surely help to clear the fog and overcome objections.
Those who would take the time to look at the list will scrutinize it, doubting your numbers while everyone else will dismiss your efforts at clarity not wanting to be swayed by reason and fact.
Rarely during the course of a sniper’s career will he be given the opportunity to display his expertise. Most will have spent thousands of hours honing their craft firing round after round into paper targets. And even though time passes and cobwebs appear that skill remains, always available should the need arise.
It’s your business and you’ll want to keep the customers that come your way.
Becoming defensive about your rates is the wrong thing to do. But being well versed in why you must charge what you do is the best way of being prepared for complaints that will surely arise. Your rates are the only thing that allows you to continue to service your customers– without rates that enable you to pay the bills and allow for a healthy profit there is no business.
Although caving-in and lowering your rates is not something I’d suggest…you’ll not want to shoot your way out of every situation and die on every hill. Some people bluster about everything…blaming you for all the ills of the day and if they sniff-out that they’re hitting a nerve when they complain about your rates…Watch out.
So learn your shit, know your costs, and be able to verbalize it as if reciting the pledge of allegiance. Be as prepared as a sniper so that when the time comes you can defend your rates.