Section 26 Service requirements

February 7th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
WINNERS = Products which do not require service or can be serviced easily by the end user.

Without a doubt, servicing of a product can be one of the biggest headaches you will have.  The more complex the product, the worse the nightmare becomes.

The service factor can easily be a three-fold nightmare.  First, a store buyer can perceive the product to be one which may require servicing just to keep the store “demonstrator model” up and running, and may decide not to stock the product for that reason.   Secondly, fear of service problems can affect overall sales of the product, because the consumer can PERCEIVE that servicing will be a problem and therefore make a decision not to purchase the product until it is proven in the marketplace, causing your product introduction period to become longer.  Thirdly, it can become very costly for you to stock service centers with the equipment and parts necessary to do warranty repairs etc.

In simple terms, a product which will require servicing generally faces a longer introductory period where costs are high and profits are low.

The upside is that a product which requires frequent or “interval” servicing and /or parts replacement, represents an additional profit opportunity for the entrepreneur so long as the target audience perceives that the servicing is necessary and that the benefits of owning and using the product outweigh the cost and hassle of having the servicing done.  A good example of such a product is a copy machine. Certainly, I do not enjoy paying for the occasional parts and service, but the benefits of having my own copy machine far outweigh the cost and hassle of the repairs and service.

If your product will be complex and will require servicing, I suggest you attend trade shows where there are suppliers of products similar to yours and find out where their product service and repair centers are.  Some people have been known to pose as prospective large-volume buyers in order to obtain detailed servicing information from a competitor or manufacturer of a similar product.  It is very easy to stand in line at a trade show and get listed as a “buyer”.  Naturally, companies trying to sell products will give “buyers” information they would never think of giving to their competition.  If you will be exhibiting in the trade show, and you have already registered as a an exhibitor, it is still very easy to go back to the lobby and register again as a buyer, without letting them know you have already registered as an exhibitor.  Many times, the service centers which work on a competitor’s product also repair products for several other companies.  Hooking up with one of these service center chains can allow you to offer your customers a variety of service center locations without being burdened by a great deal of overhead.

If the product is complex, you should always Include a label with your name, address, and ideally an “800″ toll free telephone number to enable the end-user to contact you directly if they experience any problems with your product.  The label can be worded in a manner which notifies the end-user that you supply spare parts for the product.  This way, the end-user will call YOU and NOT THE STORE WHERE THE PRODUCT WAS PURCHASED.  When the customer calls you directly, you have a chance to interview the end-user directly thus getting valuable feedback about your product’s overall performance, service requirements, and any modifications you should make.  Also, when end-users call you directly, they do not bother the store’s personnel and waste their time with questions that the sales people can’t answer.  Believe me, one of the quickest ways to kill a store’s incentive for re-orders is to tie up their sales people with customers who need information or have gripes about the performance of the product.



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