An Impatient Garage Door Repairman

March 26, 2019

One day I woke up, sleepily took care of our morning potty time for our dogs. As I brought in the last one and lowered the garage door, disaster struck. As the door lowered, it crinkled.

My wife couldn’t get out of the garage; fortunately, I was parked outside and could take her to the school where she teaches. On the drive over, she asked who I was going to call about our problem. I have no idea, I told her, but I’ll work it all out.

After I dropped Dr. Ray off, I went straight to my desk and started my own work. I could deal with that garage door later.

A few hours went by. My wife, a teacher, called me during her lunchtime planning period to check on how that garage door repair was going.

“I’m working on it,” I told her.

Dr. Ray has a keen nose for bull. “You need to know that I am not spending the night in that house tonight if that garage door is not fixed.”

You might say my priorities had suddenly been realigned. I had to get on the stick and make something happen.

I didn’t have a contact among garage door installers, so I did what most people do in such circumstances these days:  I went online. I looked for a garage door expert with what seemed to be satisfactory and legitimately honest reviews.

I found a nearby provider who seemed pretty good, and I gave him a call. I described the problem, gave him my address, and texted him pictures of the door along with measurements of the door panels.

After a few minutes, he called me back. “I’ve got the panels we need to replace the door,” he said. “Are you open for me to come out there this afternoon?”

“Yes,” I said, trying to damper my excitement.

“Normally I’d charge $1,100 or so, but if you’ll pay cash, I’ll charge you $800.”

“Get on over here, man. I’m headed to the ATM.”

I get a sizeable discount for paying in cash and I’m not going to be in trouble with Dr. Ray? I felt like I was at the casino and three cherries had just come up on the slot machine.

I had no idea what a garage door replacement like this should cost. I had visions of four figures dancing in my head before this conversation, so that’s what I was braced for.

In his impatience to get the job (and seemingly to avoid taxes by receiving cash), my garage door repairman screwed up.  He was focused only on the job at hand, not the why of the job.

He didn’t have a value conversation with me, his client. He never asked me any questions that would have revealed my sense of urgency.

He could have asked questions such as:

  • What happened and when?
  • Do you know why it happened? Anything unusual happening prior to the problem?
  • What did you have in mind to replace the door?
  • Any upcoming outside house painting or remodeling?
  • When was the house built?
  • Any issues with the garage door motor itself?
  • How many cars are parked in the garage?
  • Etc.

He could have said then said, “my crews are pretty busy right now, and we’re more than halfway through the day today. When did you need to have the work completed?”

At some point in this conversation, I would have revealed the big problem, which had little to do with the garage door itself:  it was important to my wife that this job be completed that day, and therefore it was important to me. I would have understood that I’m calling him at the middle of the day, hoping that he can get my replacement done by day’s end. If he’d told me that for a rush charge, he’d get out there that afternoon, I would have paid.

$1,500? $2,000? I don’t know what I would have paid, but I felt like I’d drawn the “get out of jail free” card to only pay $800.

In the services business--home, professional, or otherwise--the price you ultimately receive is based in part on your willingness to have a value conversation which taps into the hopes, fears, dreams, and other emotions which are bubbling within your customer.

Your impatience can cost you a lot of money, like it did my garage door repairman.

And you might be like I imagine he could be, wondering why you’re working so hard for so little on the bottom line.


©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.

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