Master electrician Chris Crew explains how a digital price book, add-on sales, and free training can help grow your business.
Working in the electrical industry for nearly 30 years, Master Electrician Chris Crew knows firsthand how leveraging the right business tools and technology directly impacts an electrical company’s bottom line. It also doesn’t hurt when it comes to recruiting a younger generation of workers.
“We fear what we don’t understand,” says Crew, who started as an electrical apprentice at age 16, and now serves as President of The Blue Collar Success Group, a well-respected group of business coaches, technician trainers, and marketing experts who work to guide the in-home service industry.
To take advantage of new mobile software and other business tools on the market, “you don’t have to be a technology-savvy person,” Crew says. “You just need to understand what it is, and how it impacts your business.”
For instance, electrical companies trying to recruit a younger generation of electricians—without digital tools and new technology—might find it difficult to attract and retain new employees.
“When there’s little-to-no technology, it’s a turnoff for them,” Crew explains. “They’re looking for someone who’s ‘with the times.’ If you want to tap into the newer generation, you’re going to need some technology.”
Before joining BCSG in 2018, Crew focused much of his career on helping other companies become operationally efficient and using technology to drive sales and profitability. He and a business partner also grew their own electrical company from 10 trucks with one location in 2013 to over 60 trucks with five locations in 2017, producing $18 million in revenue within just four years.
Two years ago, Crew sold his shares in the electrical business and joined BCSG, returning to his true passion for helping others in the skilled trades. In fact, ServiceTitan even consulted this knowledgeable, articulate, and tech-savvy industry expert in the development of its Pricebook Pro for Electricians.
In a recent webinar hosted by ServiceTitan, Crew explains how companies need to equip all service techs with technical tools—such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wire strippers—but they also require modern business tools—such as training, software, and marketing plans—to really succeed.
“Software has totally changed the game. Training, in general, is one of the most under-utilized business tools available for contractors,” he says. “These are the tools you need to do business, but how do you leverage them?”
In this webinar on “3 Tools for a Profitable Electrical Business,” Crew discusses:
How every electrician can benefit from a digital price book
The most effective way to approach add-on sales
A free and easy training strategy most companies overlook
Benefits of using a digital price book
Most electrical companies utilize a price book, whether techs reference it through a printed or digital version. Many contractors also know how awkward it can be for an inexperienced service tech or salesperson to plop down a big, scary, inches-thick paper price book on a customer’s kitchen table.
Crew says a digital price book improves your team’s communication with customers by letting the software do the heavy lifting, providing independent articles to validate recommended services and photos of every product or service to educate in simple terms.
Before switching to ServiceTitan software many years ago, Crew says he used a printed price book, and even took Polaroid pictures and laminated articles to show customers when selling electrical services.
While every electrician benefits from using a price book, Crew says leveraging software as the tool to drive it improves a company’s consistency and efficiency.
“There are lots of ways to create, build, leverage, and utilize a price book, but one of the things I will say is this: Having a price book creates consistency for the company to manage margins, and consistency for customers from a price-integrity standpoint,” he says.
Utilizing a digital price book not only helps electricians explain and sell products and services better, it also eliminates the inefficiencies owners often face when making changes on the fly—whether for price increases, inspection form updates, or CRM best practices.
No more waiting around for changes to be printed in new price books, or taking extra time to explain the updates to your techs. The software does it all, from creating consistency for allotted time and material pricing to what goes into performing each task.
“Today, we can update any pricing in mass quantity, just like that,” says Crew, snapping his fingers. “I can make massive changes in my business, literally on a split-second decision. I can make a decision, update, and move forward.”
Effective strategies to increase add-on sales
Unlike most sales trainers, Crew believes he can teach a service tech with strong technical knowledge to sell, even if they show little interest in that part of the business.
“You give me the most technical technician, and I will teach them how to outsell the best salesperson,” he says. “The more comfortable I have a technician with the technical, the more comfortable and prone they are to talk about additional products and services.”
And, Crew’s not talking about the electrical job “lay-downs,” such as turning a “panel-smoking” or “lights-flickering” call into a big-ticket item.
“I’m talking about how I take, ‘needs outlet added,’ and create a very large ticket with it—without teaching my technicians to be high-pressure salespeople,” the master electrician explains.
“I’m not a fan of high-pressure sales. I am a fan of consulting,” Crew adds. “To consult, I have to be very knowledgeable. That’s why I believe technical information can lead to a better sales force.”
After decades in the industry, Crew says he’s come across more than a few electricians who would rather “talk to the panel box than the customer.”
So, he made it his mission to help the really technical person become somebody who’s comfortable with communicating with customers.
“For the electrician who doesn’t like to sell, can I help him increase his average ticket?” Crew asked. “The answer is yes, but it’s difficult without good training and software.”
He uses ServiceTitan software to create a narrow corridor of acceptable behavior for his electricians, by gaining insight into certain habits and trends he couldn’t see before. For example, he recommends regular digital invoice reviews to check for key indicators, such as the time spent from when a tech arrives on site to the time they enter the first item on the estimate.
“That’s what I call ‘selling time.’ If I’ve got an electrician that shows up, and 10 minutes later, they’re adding items, they’ve done zero relationship-building with that client,” Crew says. “Now, more than ever, I’m able to see things I’ve never been able to see before.”
Using software to coach the electrician who doesn’t like to sell
To overcome objections to selling products and services, most electricians just need a little coaching, Crew says. It’s usually a matter of showing them how to turn their knowledge and expertise into a conversation.
“How do I tie the technical to the sale? How do I marry them? Because you can’t have one without the other,” he explains. “You can’t show the customer how great you are, without communicating how great you are to the customer. Technology and software give you the ability to tie those two together.”
Just like Amazon caters to online shopping behaviors by suggesting related products and bundled deals, Crew uses ServiceTitan’s Pricebook Pro to train techs on how to easily present good-better-and-best options to their electrical customers—by building drop-down menus for every task, with the benefits of each clearly displayed.
A surge protector, for instance, adds up to 25 percent life to any motor-driven appliance, Crew says. This add-on option pops up on the service tech’s tablet each time they click on a task in the price book that involves touching, installing, or repairing anything with a motor. Installing a ceiling fan might include the add-ons of a surge protector, plus a remote control, and fan-speed control.
“Add-on sales become even easier,” Crew says. “It’s not only getting my techs to sell the benefits of it, but also getting them to remember to actually offer it. Now, I’m going to focus on teaching and educating, and I don’t have to remind them. The software is going to remind them.”
How does that help coaching efforts?
“It narrows down the corridor of acceptable behavior,” he says. “It streamlines their thinking, to at least lay the foundation.”
Crew says he’s not asking his electricians to sell high-priced, unrelated products when they respond to a customer’s service call. By using the various templates set up in Pricebook Pro, he’s giving them a better tool to easily sell or bundle add-ons specifically related to what the customer called about.
“When I presented this to my techs, it changed the game. They started thinking in terms of solution-minded, not just fix and repair,” he says. “It narrows the corridor—gets electricians thinking in a different way.”
Free training many contractors overlook
While The Blue Collar Success Group offers a wide variety of training and resources for workers in the trades, Crew says many contractors overlook an effective approach that costs nothing.
“Training depends on the content, the trainer, and the delivery mechanism—all of it is not the same,” Crew says. “If it’s not delivered in the best learning style suited for your team, it’s not going to be as good.”
Most electricians learn through one of three training strategies:
Tell Me: The trainer stands in front of a class, or virtually through teleconferencing, and tells them the information they need to know.
Show Me: The trainer practices role play, or what Crew calls “skills practice,” by showing techs how to run a service call.
Let Me Do It: The trainer gives techs a specific customer scenario, and they solve the problem themselves.
At BCSG, trainers refer to the ‘Let Me Do It’ strategy as Situational Training, which is free and easy for any company to implement.
The techs study the customer’s scenario and collaborate on a solution, either together or individually. If individually, Crew identifies the technician with the best presented options, and lets that electrician teach the rest of the team.
“Your team is now teaching each other, and that’s one of the most valuable versions of ‘Let Me Do It,’” he says. “Studies have shown 90-percent higher retention when someone has to do it themselves, and then teach others.”
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive electrical service business software solution built specifically to help companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country. Ready to learn more about what ServiceTitan can do for your business? Contact our team to schedule a demo today.