Special Supplement To Plumbing & Mechanical
Sid Harvey's Customer Service
Sid Harvey's has always put a premium on customer service. The company's extensive network of branches, expanded counter services and personnel offer only the most visible reminder of that dedication.
There are additional services going on behind the scenes to make it easier for contractors to pick products they need and the type of delivery they want.
“Our customers aren't just doing business with us simply because we have the doors open,” says John Rynecki, senior vice president/sales and marketing. “We are offering solutions to their business challenges. By doing that, we give them something that adds value to their business lives.”
Let's take a look at a few ways Sid Harvey's makes it easier for contractors to buy from them:
Electronic Customer Service CenterSid Harvey's launched its e-commerce Web site, the Electronic Customer Service Center, in 2000. While contractors can phone or fax an order, the ECSC offers another way to conduct business - electronically, morning, noon or night.
Customers can reach the ECSC by logging on to www.sidharvey.com (link below). After placing orders, contractors can also choose to ship products to their business, jobsite or to the counter of one of the local branches.
Large companies quickly took advantage of the new service. “In those cases, their computers basically talk to our computers,” says Russell TumSuden, senior vice president/finance and MIS.
Some smaller companies, however, still tend to stick to the tried-and-true. “I think our customers still like to come into a store and buy what they need exactly when they need it,” TumSuden adds. “Plus, our self-service branches makes it easy to do that.”
Instead, smaller contractors use the ECSC as more of an administrative assistant. Besides placing orders, the ECSC helps contractors:
- Check the status of their orders;
- Review their account status; and
- Print out hard copies of outstanding invoices.
Customers outside the coverage of Sid Harvey's branches find ECSC to be a virtual, 24/7 supply house.
Warehouse Direct ExpressThe ECSC isn't the only way Sid Harvey's makes it easier to do business with them, even when contractors are without a Sid Harvey's branch nearby. The company's Warehouse Direct Express service offers more than 15,000 stocked items for heating, air-conditioning or refrigeration parts or accessories that are just a phone, fax or e-mail away. What's more, Sid Harvey's can ship items the same day, next day or by a standard UPS delivery.
In essence, Warehouse Direct Express makes Sid Harvey's a national wholesaler. What started out as a part of the company's Web site now has a dedicated staff, which can answer questions, process credit orders or establish a customer account on the spot.
“We're proactively selling to parts of the country where we don't have brick and mortar stores,” says Jack DeCotiis, senior vice president/operations and business development.
Customized Inventory SolutionsIn this case, Sid Harvey's boils down 75 years of inventory management know-how for each customer, helping craft a personalized inventory control system that saves owner/contractors time and money.
Now here's a service that goes way back - all the way back to the company founder.
“Back in my grandfather's day, we actually bought a truck and outfitted it like a service vehicle. It would be driven to heating company shops and the servicemen would be shown what inventory they should have and how to organize it. This helped the early techs work more efficiently,” says Sid Harvey, president and CEO.
Even before the truck demo, company salesmen used to give contractors a picture of a truck along with diagrams that showed how to build shelves, where to put each part, and how many of each part to stock.
“This is really an extension of the whole history of the company,” DeCotiis adds. “We've been going to customers forever, finding better ways to organize their inventory, which is their biggest working asset.”
CIS works in a number of ways depending on, of course, the needs of the contractor. Sid Harvey's salesmen may travel on-site to determine whether a contractor operating his own warehouse is keeping the space stocked properly. More commonly, CIS will help develop a “just-in-time” restocking plan to provide a fleet of service vehicles with just what the techs need day to day.
The service has evolved over the years, progressing from an index card system in the 1960s to a computerized version in the 1980s that allowed CIS users to reorder parts the same time they were installed. Most recently, with the move to the new Central Distribution Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Sid Harvey's began supplying larger contractors directly from the CDC.
Sid Harvey's staffs a team dedicated solely to servicing CIS accounts, from selling the program, to set-up, 24/7 customer service, special pricing, warehouse picking and shipping.
“We process up to 400 tech orders per day from the CDC based on customer preferences,” DeCotiis says. “It might be half a week's worth of material or a full week's. The contractors may request that we ship the material to a remote locker or directly to one of our stores.”
Direct MarketingSid Harvey's first catalog started as a modest 20 pages when it came off the printing press in 1934. Today, the catalog includes 1,200 pages detailing more than 15,000 line items stocked in the CDC under the company's general product categories:
- Motors & Motor Accessories
- Heating Controls
- Oil Heating
- Gas Heating
- HVAC Equipment
- Refrigeration Equipment
- Pipe & Fittings
“We certainly want contractors to order from the catalog, but a lot of customers also use it as a reference tool,” Martin adds. While the catalog appears to be more than enough work, Martin's department also includes other direct marketing done at various times throughout the year, such as new product bulletins, special preseason programs and all the company's own promotional literature.
Mini-catalogs are one of the newer items to put the focus on the company's diversified products. “We do these for products that we are new to and may not be as well-known for carrying,” Martin explains. “At the same time, we also stock a lot of other products that competitors don't, so we hope that the mini-catalogs will lead customers to our larger, regular catalog.”