As I sat down to put these words on the paper, it dawned on me that I have been doing so for 11 years now. Boy, when someone tells you time flies I can attest to that. In my first writing for this publication, in 1998, I wrote an article titled “Total Customer Comfort for 2000 and beyond.” In it I touched on the idea of homeowners becoming more and more educated when it comes to the heating equipment in their home. I also mentioned that home heating systems should become more integrated in the home system. That was 11 years ago! How many of your customers’ homes are now calling you before the home gets cold? How many are using heat monitoring devices or outdoor reset? I hope you all say, “Our customers have all had that opportunity.”
We have all seen the advancements in the industry in just the past few years, haven’t we? What amazing pieces of equipment and what innovations we now have at our disposal. Products from companies like Carlin Combustion (which was purchased by C. Cowles & Co. of New Haven, CT.), RW Beckett, Weil McLain, Buderus, Energy Kinetics and the many other companies have advanced our industry well into the world starting in 2010. For example, in 1998 did you think there would be a two stage residential oil burner? Well, Carlin has it and how about electronic boiler controls, well check out their series 9000 controls. RW Beckett has been a leader in the field also. Their AquaSmart boiler control and the GeniSys burner control are just some of the products that even I could not dream of back in ’98. The innovations have not only to controls. The new oil burners and boilers are a thing of beauty. Yeah, I know…beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Things were not like this back in ’98. I wrote a note to my good friend, whom most of you have seen or heard, Dan Holohan. He replied that I should share the story with all of you. I want to tell you this true story because it may just make your day as it did mine. It’s about a big box store and the advice given to our customers.
Back in 1999, my wife dragged me to the local big box store where they sell everything in orange. They sell everything from the kitchen sink to baseboard heating. Anyway, my wife dragged me there to look for new kitchen cabinets. While she was looking for just the right cabinets, I naturally strolled into the plumbing aisle. Here I found two men in their 30s asking the salesperson about an oil boiler replacement. My ears perked up and I just had to listen.
The salesperson went into his speech about how this boiler was the best money could buy and that they sell hundreds of these units a year. One of the fellows asked about the BTU rating of the boiler, because the one being replaced was 120,000 BTUs. The answer he got was “That’s O.K. because this unit can fire anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 BTUs.” The salesmen then proceeded to tell them that this unit is all set up for one zone and all they would have to do is connect the two pipes from the old boiler to the new boiler, connect the oil line, and plug it in! The salesman told them the cost of the boiler was $1,245.00 and that the store only makes $65 on the sale. When asked by the other customer, why the oil companies charged so much for the boiler they were told “That’s why oil companies are rich.”
The customer wanted to know if there were some in stock. At this point I had to but in and ask the two customers if they were going to play with fire and the safety of their home? Why don’t you have a pro do the job? Their answer was that the oil company wanted too much money to do the job! I then said to both of them and the salesman that if they were going to install the boiler under the salesman’s instructions they may as well have a pro do it now because you will either pay them now or pay them later after you have messed up the install.
I hope this has lightened your heart a little. I have seen many a job that must have been installed by those two customers, as I’m sure you have, and they have paid dearly for their mistakes. And yes, I do charge to correct their errors.
As we head into 2010, I just wish the best to you and your family and to our industry. It looks like we may have a winter, so let’s be safe out there and as Dan says “Hug your kids.”
Please, keep your thoughts coming, good or bad. I really enjoy reading your “war stories,” e-mail me at email@example.com