Don’t Sell Your Customers Short

Service protection needs are surprisingly consistent across the country

By J.R. Zirkelbach, New Leaf Service Contracts

I have delivered extended service policy training for over 20 years in or near virtually every market in the U.S.

One thing I’ve noticed in all my travels is that for the most part, people in our industry have very much in common. Whether I’m in Kansas City, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Portland or Los Angeles, we all seem to share many of the same characteristics. To a great extent, people are just people, regardless of where they live.

With that being true, I’m surprised by how many stores I visit where I am told, “Our customers are different here.” This is usually given as an excuse as to why it is difficult to sell extended service plans in that particular market, or more specifically, in that particular store. But isn’t it true that if customers are different everywhere, then they are really all the same?

Consider that there is a Lowe’s, Home Depot, Best Buy or some other major competitor on virtually every street corner in the Western Hemisphere. Do you think these mega-retailers have a separate business model for every store custom-tailored to the demands of the “unique customers” in each market? Of course not.

These companies have been successful because they have a strategy that works. Certainly their strategies have weaknesses, but it’s evident that the strengths of these strategies outweigh those weaknesses. The simple truth is that these companies have recognized that the needs and demands of customers are essentially all the same and they have implemented a strategy to meet those demands.

You can succeed exactly the same way. Recognize that the more people are different the more they are the same, and that means that you can be as successful selling service policies as anybody else once you make up your mind to do it. 

Don’t make the mistake of creating or allowing your salespeople to create objections to selling extended service plans. Customers will come up with plenty of objections without your help. Doing otherwise will make your customers different. They will be different because at your competitors’ stores they had the option to extend their coverage, and at your store they did not.

J.R. Zirkelbach is a business development specialist at New Leaf Service Contracts and a 30-year retail industry veteran. Zirkelbach implements New Leaf-administered extended service programs for BrandSource members, which helps them provide exceptional service to customers, create earnings opportunities for salespeople, and increase their overall profitability. Contact J.R. at

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