Secure the Repair Every Time...and Sometimes Replace
Intro: Are you a technician who wants to set yourself apart? Then the Trusted Technician Podcast is for you. I'm your host, Dr. Krista Fabrick, with SBE, and on this podcast, we will have top-performing technicians and experienced HVAC coaches and trainers sharing their tips and strategies to help you be more successful.
Krista Fabrick (Coach): Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's episode of The Trusted Technician. I am so excited today to bring you a slightly different style of an episode. We have Josh Taylor and a tech that we are so excited for you to hear from today, Nathan Carter, and he is going to actually be doing a little bit of an interview, as you've heard before. This a mini-training for you all. Welcome both of you to the show. Thank you for being here today.
Josh Taylor (Guest): Yeah, we're excited. Thanks for having us, Krista.
Nathan Carter (Tech): Yeah, thank you.
Krista Fabrick: All right, so Nathan, I know I said your name, but why don't you go ahead and just quickly introduce yourself as in who you're working with, where you are, and all that good stuff?
Nathan Carter: I'm Nathan. I'm with Harris Air. We're North of Dallas, TX, and I've been here for six years.
Krista Fabrick: Wow. Six years. Awesome. I'm glad to hear that. That's a long time anymore in this world, it seems. Right? And so, how long have you been in the industry? Have you been with Harris the whole time?
Nathan Carter: I have been with Harris the whole time, but I did grow up around it. My dad owned his own business. When I was in middle school, I was missing school to help my dad do installs.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. So you really did grow up around it. Yes. All right. So knowing that background, when you started working for Harris, did you start right away as a tech, or did you start on the install side?
Nathan Carter: I started as a tech.
Krista Fabrick: Awesome. So obviously, you know, you've been a part of the SBE program for a while. I know you've been a selling tech for a while, right? Have you been able to sell equipment for how long now?
Nathan Carter: After being at Harris for about four months and showing Blake that I could sell, yeah, he just let me lose.
Krista Fabrick: Awesome. So, if you don't mind sharing, what was your revenue in 2021?
Nathan Carter: I was $90k or so, just shy of a million.
Krista Fabrick: Hey, we'll just round up. We'll call you a million dollars, right? Haha, and do you have a goal set for 2022?
Nathan Carter: On paper, it's $1.2m, but I feel like I'm gonna do $1.5m.
Krista Fabrick: $1.5m, awesome! And hey, we're already almost at the end of May here. How are you looking? Are you on track?
Nathan Carter: Yeah. I'm above $404k.
Krista Fabrick: Awesome. It's just getting warm over there, so very good. With that revenue, obviously, you know, that's done a lot for your income. I'm guessing, as you've increased your revenue each year. What changes have you seen in your life, or how has having some of that additional income impacted your life?
Nathan Carter: I mean, it's a huge impact. My wife's a teacher, so, of course, she still works, but it's just given us financial security. We save most of it, and you never know when you're gonna need it. So, it's more of investing at a later date. I mean, we haven't changed our lifestyle, so to say it's just, you know, I have more money, and if I need something, I can do it.
Krista Fabrick: That's awesome. And you said you save most of it, but I don't know if you know this, like 11% of Americans have saved more than a thousand dollars.
So I mean, you're now in a very small group. The fact that you're saving that, right? And think of how many people live paycheck to paycheck. I love to hear that you're saving. Having been a selling tech now for quite a few years, what would you say is your favorite part of being an HVAC tech?
Nathan Carter: I would say it's weird because I'm actually an introvert, so I don't like talking to people. I like to be by myself, but I do enjoy the customers. I enjoy talking to them and just seeing them happy when I leave. I mean, that's my favorite part is I did something good, and I know they're happy. No matter how much they spent, they're extremely happy with what they did, and it's not about the money anymore. It's just their comfort.
Krista Fabrick: right? I mean, that's the thing is a lot of people don't think carefully about the fact that you, as a tech, are going into people's safe place, right?
You're going into their home. You're seeing the mess, the dirt, the whatever, right? The repairs that need to be done, things like that. And they're in a place where they maybe have no heating or no cooling, or there's something wrong. And you're coming in, and if you make them feel safe and you take care of their issue, I mean, yeah. How could they not be happy?
Nathan Carter: Yeah.
Krista Fabrick: That's kind of the introductory questions that I wanted everybody to hear about you. But today's goal is to give you a chance to share how you've seen some success in selling. So, Josh, I'm gonna let you kind of explain since you are Nathan's coach.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, that's true. It's been a pleasure. It's been awesome working with Nathan for the last couple of years. Just a really good dude, for one, but awesome HVAC tech as well. Nathan, let me ask you, when do you feel like you actually first figured it out? That's one of the biggest things that we run into with a lot of techs is they're learning how to sell systems or they're moving from maintenance tech to a service tech. When do you feel like you really started clicking with you on how to start comfortably talking about new systems with customers?
Nathan Carter: I would say I had the major click about three to four years ago, maybe even five. Then this year, I just had, I guess, an epiphany of, y'all tell us this every time when we're in training, and I know Cory even used to say when we got done with training, "Now forget everything I told you."
He means that he gave you tools, but that doesn't mean going out and being a robot. It means being yourself and using those tools when needed. And I think that's what I really had to take on and learn. Was to keep my own personality and put those tools into my personality.
Josh Taylor: Mm-hmm.
Nathan Carter: When I do that, I'm just having natural conversations. You have the questions that you need to ask when you need to ask them, and you can soft and reverse them in your own personality. So that was the major click that I had: stop trying to read a script and be yourself.
Josh Taylor: That's so huge, and that is a hard thing for technicians to do, right? Because we're like, "Hey, memorize some of these questions or use this, but also sound like yourself and pretend it's not memorized." Right?
Nathan Carter: Yeah. Don't be memorized. Those questions have a time, and you're not going to use them all on every call. Some calls go easier. Some customers are difficult, and you just have to have them in your back pocket when you need them, but make them sound genuine. Make it sound like it's you, not that you're reading a script that you read out of a book.
Josh Taylor: Well said. I mean, Krista, that's pretty spot on, right?
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. That's what we always say in our classes and our training. Don't memorize it like a script.
Josh Taylor: It takes time essentially to see like, "Wow, I've been doing this for three or four years, and it finally started to click." I know one thing that has been paramount for you, Nathan, is learning how to transition to that new system conversation. Right?
Because we have thousands of techs out there that are literally going to be going to thousands of customers this year where their equipment's broken, right? They're without A/C, and oftentimes, what, 70% or so, Krista are roughly gonna be 10 years or older during the summer when these things are breaking down.
So, I mean, if you were to talk to a new technician that's learning how to sell, what advice would you give on how to transition to that new unit conversation from a repair?
Nathan Carter: It starts in the very beginning. You need to know how long they want it to last.
Whether it's a demand or anything like that, or if you're going on a demand, don't forget your process. Yes, it's broken. Yes, they're gonna give you money, but don't forget your process. So we need to ask, how long are you trying to get out of it even though it's broken?
And then we're gonna find the problem. Whether it is a capacitor, a board, or whatever it may be, we're going present it to them. Then they're going to know about the problem, and you're gonna secure that repair. And then, once you secure it, you ask them, "Hey, is it okay if I go ahead and go through your whole unit before we do this repair just to make sure there's nothing else going on?"
I'm getting their permission to look at everything instead of just discovering it on my own and bringing it to them because if I discovered on my own and bring it to them, it looks like I'm trying to sell them something. But they gave me permission to look at the unit. They gave me permission to go through everything.
After I do that, I go over all the options with them. So this is the main problem. We also need these things in order to get the unit to last as long as you want it to. What are you thinking? And then that's when you're going to have that conversation. If they're wanting to spend three grand on a 10-year-old unit, that's fine. Secure that.
Usually, what I do is say, let me go write this up, and we'll figure out when we can get it all done. And as I walk out the door, I'll stop and turn around, be like, "I just thought about this. Are you sure you want to spend three grand on this unit?" And they'll be like, "What do you mean?"
I'm like, "Well, you can get a new unit if you want to. And we can look at those options, and we wouldn't have to worry about this anymore. And a lot of them were like, "Well, how much does that cost?" And when they say, "How much does that cost?" That's when I'm like, "Well, are you serious? Are you thinking you want to do this tomorrow?" And when they say 'Yes, we'll go through with it." I'll transition them over. But if they say no to me, that's fine because I already secured the $3,000.
Josh Taylor: Right. That makes tons of sense. Nathan, there were a couple of things that I don't know if you've heard as well, Krista, but there are a couple of things that I feel were really critical to your kind of process in that. Do you mind if I ask a couple more questions to dive a little deeper?
Nathan Carter: What do you mean by asking a couple more questions?
Josh Taylor: Oh, so I was gonna say, so for example, like you said, that it's so important even if these systems are old, right? You ask the question of how long they want the system to last. So even though it's an older system, why is that? Why is that question so important, Nathan?
Nathan Carter: It's important because they need to be thinking about that. The customer needs to be thinking about that because they may not have thought about it in the past. I'm like, well, how long do they last? How much time do I have? Right? Do I need to be spending this amount of money? That starts them to make decisions that they weren't really going to make. They were just thinking, hell, he's gonna come out, fix it, and I'm good to go. But it makes them start thinking.
Josh Taylor: Okay. That gets the wheels turning in the customer's head. And a lot of times, do you find that the system is older than the customers think it is?
Nathan Carter: Oh yeah. It's just a few years old, and you go out there, and you're like, this thing's 12.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. So that's another key part of having a conversation. Right, Nathan is making them actually realize how old their system is.
Nathan Carter: Absolutely. I mean, it definitely makes them realize all of that. And then, you know, a lot of these older units, they're not maintenance customers. With those, I mean, that's where it's really easy to say, "How long do you want it to last?" You're finding your problem, but then you can start connecting dots with even dirt because usually, they're dirty as well, right?
Josh Taylor: Oh, that's awesome, Nathan. And it sounds like once you find one of the main things that are going wrong, it sounds like you bring that to the customer and then you get permission to go through the rest of the unit. Does that sound right?
Nathan Carter: Absolutely. I taught another technician here this: What he was doing was finding something wrong and then finding all the other problems, and because it's like, you just brought all this to me when what I wanted to know was what makes it work. You know, like, what am I gonna have to fix? But if you get their permission, they expect you to bring it to them because they know that they don't want to call you again. So, it makes you look like a technician versus a salesman.
Krista Fabrick: I love that. That's a key differentiator because I believe Josh, and tell me if I'm wrong here, that a lot of techs probably make that same mistake. They just know they're supposed to do a thorough job of inspecting the whole system, but they skip that step of talking to the customer and making sure the customer actually wants them to do that.
Nathan Carter: Absolutely. Yeah. The technician that we had that was doing that last year, this time of year, was at about $80,000. I showed him this at the beginning of the year. Now he's at over $200,000. So, he's made a huge jump just by changing a couple of things in his process.
Krista Fabrick: That's awesome. That's proof right there of how impactful a few small tweaks can be.
Nathan Carter: Absolutely.
Josh Taylor: That's fantastic. Thanks for sharing, Nathan. I guess my final question is, when it comes to the time you've secured the repair, you brought back some other things, right? And you then take a moment to go say, "Hey, I'm going to go write this up really quick." And you kind of leave that with the customer for a few moments, and then you turn around and say, "Have you considered replacement?" Right? Or how does that typically go? Are most customers wanting to know the price? What do you think that looks like?
Nathan Carter: Well, yeah, I'd turn around and say, "Have you considered replacing it?" And they're like, "Well, no, they're expensive." Or "I don't even know how much one costs." You know, you don't have to replace the whole unit if you don't want to. They say, "If I can do at least a component now, I can do the rest later." Whether it's just a furnace or a condenser coil, I'm not replacing just coils or just condensers, but that usually goes off, well with them, and they usually say, "No, I haven't thought about that. Aren't they expensive?" Then I'll say something like, "Well, I have options." and I tell them, "Most of my customers finance them. Is that something you're interested in?"
A lot of times, that's when customers perk up. "I didn't know I could finance it." These are a lot of the answers I get. That's when you have to start talking about money and finding out what their budget is. Then that's when I can either offer a low payment or a 0% option.
It just depends on what it is. That's another thing we have taught in our company this year. Talking about money and the number of customers who are not using 0% for 60 months or anything like that. I mean, a lot of them are either using a 9.9 with a low, low payment, or they're using 0% for like 12 months.
So we figured out that we were paying so much in finance costs. That we didn't have to pay because they didn't need it. They were just taking it because we offered it.
Josh Taylor: Right.
Krista Fabrick: Yeah. That's awesome. You gotta make sure you know your customer and that you're getting them the right solution or financing. The right option for them that fits their budget and their needs. Not just because you can.
Nathan Carter: Absolutely.
Josh Taylor: Nathan, just for our listeners, really quick, not to embarrass you on the podcast here, but I mean, Nathan's closing at 40%.
Krista Fabrick: Wow.
Josh Taylor: 40% and sold 35 systems so far this year for a total of about $350k. So, I mean, it sounds like you got this really dialed in.
Krista Fabrick: That's huge. So for techs that are listening that aren't used to knowing their numbers that well, we think a rockstar tech is closing at about 30%. So the fact that you're doing 40% is huge! There are salespeople out there in this industry that are at 40%, and their only job is to go out there and sell.
Nathan Carter: Yeah. I'm closing at 40%. I've run a lot fewer calls than I did last year, and I've made more money this year.
Krista Fabrick: Woah, what you just said is magic. Haha.
Nathan Carter: It's magic, right? Before we got busy, I was running maybe three calls a day. I mean, at the beginning of this month, I ran 12 calls and pulled in like $80k. So even when we're busy, I'm not doing more than four or five a day, and that's me working till 10 o'clock at night. It's just you have to take the time. Whether it's a demand call or a maintenance, it doesn't matter. The money's there. You just have to follow the process, really.
That's what it comes down to, following the process and asking the questions. But being yourself and being polite goes a long way. And I'm not near as tired anymore because I'm not trying to run seven or eight calls chasing the money. The money's just coming because I'm taking my time, and it makes them want to spend money with you.
Krista Fabrick: I love it. And Nathan, you know, you actually just almost answered the question I was gonna ask as we wrap up. This episode will go live on June 1st. So any tech listening to this will either be already well into their summer, depending on where they are, or summer's coming.
Right. You just said some of the key things that I was gonna ask you. What would your advice be? To techs as they are looking ahead at summer or as they're in the middle of the summer listening to this? You kind of said it right, be consistent, follow the process, and be polite to customers. Anything else that you want to say about slowing down and staying consistent?
Nathan Carter: I guess it was last winter. I had a goal to hit a million, and I was falling shy real quick, and at the end of last year, I slowed way down and really dug in, and I've just kept it through here, and I've just decided there is no season. It's the same constantly year round. And when you don't look at it as seasons, your money can be constant as well.
Krista Fabrick: I love it. I love it. That's such a great mindset. Thank you, so many great gold nuggets of wisdom for techs today. I think hearing those magic words are: you ran fewer calls, and you're making more money. Right.
Nathan Carter: Mm-hmm.
Krista Fabrick: What tech wouldn't love to change their workday like that? Josh, any last words of wisdom or questions for Nathan here?
Josh Taylor: No. Nathan, thanks so much for being here today. It's really great to see your success this year and your continual improvement. Thanks for being an inspiration to us, man.
Nathan Carter: Thank you for having me.
Krista Fabrick: Thank you, Nathan. Have a great day everybody.
Outro: Thank you for tuning in to the Trusted Technician brought to you by SBE. To learn more about SBE, visit us at sbeodyssey.com. If you enjoyed today's episode, be sure to share it with your friends and leave us a rating wherever you're listening. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next episode. Have a great day.