Check your customer records to increase your service business. 

Photo of a/c unit. istockphoto.com/Galina Stepanova


Can you imagine how much a customer you worked for 15 or 20 years ago would be pleasantly surprised to receive a courtesy phone call or site visit from one of your service techs? You should have retained all the pertinent information for every customer in active files. This may involve new equipment you installed or minor repairs or replacements. By simply reviewing those records with the service tech who did the work, you can easily justify a phone call and a site visit.

Someone in your service department could review all your files and select specific areas that would be convenient for each service tech to visit. They should then call each customer to arrange for a courtesy visit at his convenience. The introductory message should include:

“Mr. Smith, this is ABC Mechanical Contractors and we are updating our customer service files. We would appreciate your cooperation with a courtesy survey of your equipment. There is no charge for the survey and we will give you a copy for your records and future maintenance. Are you still at the same address? What day and time would be convenient for our courtesy visit?”

Keep in mind, this must be a sales visit and not just a service call. Your tech must present a professional image with a clean uniform, booties on his shoes, a clean service truck and a pleasant introduction. He should visit the premises, examine and clean all the mechanical equipment and take notes of any necessary minor maintenance or repairs. Small incidental repair items such as oil or grease on moving parts, tightening or adjusting screws or bolts, etc., should be donated and noted on the report to the customer.

It is absolutely critical that technicians leave the entire premises cleaner than they found them. They should then thank the customer when the call is completed and remind him that he will receive a written report and recommendations from the company within a short period of time.

Now that you have a current written summary, it should be compared with the previous data in that customer’s file. This is where the true salesmanship begins.

Select any employees from your service staff or installation crews who are familiar with this type of equipment for a value-engineering team. They should try to predict anything that could go wrong or be improved with specific maintenance, repairs or replacement.

You may want to involve some of the other trade contractors whose equipment also may need attention. They would be very useful as well as appreciative of the opportunity.

This list of critical maintenance items needs to be as thorough as possible, with realistic costs involved if the customer decides not to do proper maintenance. Your techs will want to stress how much money customers will save with your recommended maintenance program. When they read your summary, they will appreciate how much you are interested in their welfare!

Maintenance on other equipment

Naturally, all these possibilities will not come to fruition at every home or business. Depending on what specific services you furnish, some will be items that other trade contractors would recommend.

1. Heating and air-conditioning units. These should be serviced every spring and fall to assure proper temperatures through summer and winter. This service would include maintaining the proper level of refrigerant to keep the air-conditioning unit efficient.

This refrigerant check would  give fair warning about a leak in one of the lines. A tech may need to clean or change the filter in the air-handling unit on each service call. When that filter is full, the unit will be overworked, increasing fuel and electricity costs and shortening the life of the air-conditioning unit. The ductwork should be checked for any leaks or damage. In some older units, the entire duct system may need to be cleaned.

Techs should listen carefully for any unusual noises, which could be the fan motor, loose screws or bolts or lack of lubrication. Check the thermostat to be certain the temperature is coordinated with the controls at the compressor and the air-handling units.

Your techs should emphasize how little these annual maintenance service calls will cost compared to the discomfort and major expense of replacing the entire air-conditioning unit. Should it become necessary, you might mention the availability of rebuilt parts and complete rebuilt units from your salvage center.

2. Water leaks. It is unbelievable how much money is lost with a simple dripping faucet or hose bib. The loss is even greater with a leaking ball valve in the commode tank. And the loss is multiplied when customers are using city water that has a sewage charge attached to the water bill.

Customers who have wells and water pumps need to have the pumps checked for lubrication and efficient operation to eliminate major repairs or replacement. Septic tanks have an access hole to assure proper cleaning as needed and to accelerate the digestive action in the tank. This maintenance saves expensive repairs to your tank, rooter services to clean the sewer lines, and the ugly consequences of commode backup and overflow. Techs should also recommend pouring some kind of liquid drain cleaner into the trap under the sink drains. The heating unit on the hot water tank should be checked to ensure ample hot water will be available as needed.

Turn off all water-use sources and check the water meter to see if there may be hidden leaking pipes. In addition to possible repairs or even re-piping expense, you could find major water damage leading to replacement of damaged walls, ceilings and even floors. If you have access to a doctor’s stethoscope, this is an excellent tool to listen for and locate hidden leaks. Professional leak-detection equipment is even better.

Combine all this information into a sales-oriented customer report. It’s easy to understand why a customer will be pleasantly surprised at your concern for his premises. Your service tech will  need to make another appointment to hand over this report and convince the customer that your service maintenance contract will be cost-saving and beneficial to the life of his equipment.

An owner should consider sharing a percentage of the profit, created by this courtesy call, with the tech who serviced the customer. Referral cards could be printed, including the company name, telephone number, address, and the tech’s name for the satisfied customer to give to friends and neighbors who could benefit from a courtesy site visit. This would add a continuing supply of new names to your “fortune files.”

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