Chief Iceologist, Mark Hangen, concludes his exclusive 3 part series.
Accountability and Commercial Ice Machines
We’ve discussed the transactional nature of the ice machine industry. Now let me tell you how Easy Ice has addressed accountability when it comes to commercial ice machines.
We created Easy Ice with the idea that by taking accountability for our customer’s ice machine they would spend less money, have fewer headaches and we would make a fair profit. We accomplish this by providing an ice machine and all associated services for a fixed monthly fee. We also allow our customers to terminate their contract with no penalty on just 30 days’ notice. With this structure we maximize our profit by ensuring our machines are in tip top shape. That way our customers never run out of ice and we aren’t making excessive service calls.
It is simple to explain but hard to accomplish if you haven’t built your business with this model in mind from the beginning. Here is how we do it at Easy Ice:
Charge an all-inclusive fixed fee – All-inclusive resorts are great. One fee that includes everything. Easier to budget, less decisions and a more enjoyable experience. From the resort’s perspective you better be good at what you do otherwise you will lose money and/or customers won’t come back.
Easy Ice employs a similar model. Our customers pay a fixed monthly fee. We provide the machines and all associated services. If we are efficient and attentive our customers will enjoy the experience and we will make money. If we are short sighted (transaction oriented) and sloppy we will lose money and our customers won’t come back.
Use properly sized machines – A huge source of service calls are machines that aren’t providing enough ice during peak times (i.e. when the weather is hot). The output of an ice machine varies widely depending on water and air temperature. During the summer when demand for ice is highest it is not unusual for a machine to produce 30% less ice than its peak capacity. If you buy a 600lb machine don’t be surprised if only produces 400 lbs. when it is hot.
Why would someone sell you a machine that is too small during the summer? Most likely because it was cheaper and the customer wanted to minimize their capital outlay. Since your sales organization and service organization are typically different, don’t be shocked when you get a $200 invoice when you call for service and are told it is because the machine is too small. The service company really isn’t to blame and they need to get paid for the visit.
At Easy Ice, we go out of our way to place the properly sized machine because it ensures we don’t have to make these types of calls. In fact, we price 200-600lb machines the same so you have no incentive to get a smaller machine. Because we have taken accountability for your machine our interests are aligned.
We will lose money “selling” you a machine that is too small, because we have to make the service calls to make it right. If you grow, we allow you to upgrade to a larger machine for no additional cost other than a slightly higher monthly cost. Again, if we didn’t, we would be losing money making service calls because your machine isn’t providing enough ice. We are in this thing together.
Clean the machines regularly – Preventative maintenance of an ice machine minimizes emergency maintenance and extends the life of a machine. This means less parts, less back-up ice, fewer service calls and happier customers. At least twice a year we visit your shop, change the filters, clean the machine and test to ensure the ice machine we installed is operating properly.
We actually make service calls on our nickel when nothing is wrong to make sure we minimize the amount of service calls we have to make because something is wrong. This also helps us optimize the number of people we have in our call center to handle emergency service calls.
Again, our interests are aligned with yours. We lose money when your machine fails. Doing the right things to prevent failure is good for you and for us.
Analyze performance data – We own and maintain thousands of ice machines around the United States. They are deployed in different types of businesses and are subject to a wide variety of operating conditions. By tracking this information we learn what type of machine works best in a specific situation.
We know how often we have to conduct preventative maintenance and what things are likely to go wrong at certain points in the machines life cycle. This information allows us to recommend the appropriate type (air cooled, water cooled, remote mount) and sized machine with the greatest potential for reliability. This minimizes downtime for our customers (and us)! Our customers get the best possible reliability and we optimize our return on the machine.
24 x 7 x 365 Call Center – Despite our best efforts ice machines sometimes break. When they do, we want to know about it ASAP so we can get you back-up ice and schedule a service call. Few businesses that need ice machines operate just Monday thru Friday 8-5. Some of our customers operate 24 hours.
With our 24 x 7 x 365 call center you can rest assured we are working whenever you are working. Importantly, we wouldn’t dream of outsourcing something as important as customer service so there is no need to worry if you will be able to understand our CSR’s.
Ice machines are critical tools for many businesses. They can also be quite expensive and a big hassle to operate. Our approach of taking accountability for your machine ensures you will get the right machine and the best service with the least hassle. This isn’t simply marketing hyperbole. We designed and built our business from the very beginning to make sure we could deliver on this commitment. It all starts with being accountable and making sure our interests and your interests are aligned.
In just three years we have earned nearly 4,000 customers in 30 states. Our growth is 20 times faster than anyone else in the industry. Eight five percent (85%) of our customers previously owned their ice machines.
Give us a try and see the difference.