We’re doing service plans all wrong, apparently.

This was one of the more eye opening statements gleaned from end user panels I moderated recently, in conjunction with Symco’s Regional Technology Showcases. For most of this year, I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time to better understand service offerings and emphasize the model throughout SCN. I was starting to feel sick of talking about it; however, I was eager to lob the topic to the half dozen gracious end users who joined me on these panels.

I was shocked to hear the immediate dismissal of the service contract topic by all the end users queried. It was like a toxic reaction. One global head of multimedia for a financial services firm prefaced his closing statement by saying, “Don’t try to sell me a service contract. Nine times out of ten, they’re a losing bet.”

Some of the reasons given were that they couldn’t justify the considerable expense; there wasn’t immediate turnaround for requests; techs that were completely unfamiliar with the space might be dispatched; and the list goes on. The end users recognized that integrators view service contracts as a major potential source of recurring revenue, and that seemed to inform their views on considering one. In other words, they see it as a way for you to make money, yet they don’t see the value on their end.

They did report success with on-site staffing services from an integration partner, as well as service contracts pertaining to specific elements of an installation—the 30-foot video wall, for example. Service and warranties from the manufacturer was another positive they look to employ to the fullest.

I’ve heard so much from the integrator perspective on all the potential that service contracts have for them, so what gives? Maybe it’s just not a one-size fits all model. Regardless, the service contract clearly has a bad rap among your customers. This can’t come as a surprise to many of you. What kind of resistance to service pitches have you experienced?

Looking forward, I’ll be focusing less on why you should be selling service contracts and more on actual success stories. So, don’t be shy in reaching out about specific successes or challenges. In either case, there’s an opportunity for us as a community to learn how to bring more value to projects.