How many times have we heard that phrase? “One size fits all” makes you think that we are all the same, doesn’t it? I am sure that my frame and your frame are not the same. Neither are our customers. Our customers are as varied as the colors of the leaves in autumn. Why should we limit ourselves to only customers like ourselves? Or do we?
For the past 60 years or so, we have been in a shrinking market, and it’s time we stopped this trend, don’t you think? In our need to increase the efficiency of the equipment, we have cut the amount of oil a customer uses by about 25 percent. This is good for the customer and the environment, but not so good for us. We still perform the same services that we did back when, but with less oil sold. It’s time for a change. The idea of oil being a dirty energy source has been played out in commercials on radio and television, and we know that is not true. But the people who matter, our customers, may not know it. We need to tell them in the communication we have with them. We need to show them in every contact we have with them. Everyone we come in contact with is a potential customer of our industry, maybe not your customer, but still a customer of the oil industry.
Let’s show all of them how clean our fuel is. I know that the fuel oil burners of today are over 90 percent more efficient than when I started back in 1971. Now that’s scary. We need to show how clean our fuel is by having clean trucks, clean uniforms and clean tools to work with. Not only clean tools, but we need to also have the proper tools. Our customers know they have choices in companies and in fuel choices; we cannot afford to give them the false impression that oil is a thing of the past. Every customer is different, and you as the technician need to be more receptive to the changing customer more now than ever. What works for one technician may not work for another. What gets one customer annoyed is not the same as another customer.
One thing that will get your customers annoyed at you faster than a pitch from a major league baseball pitcher is if they are more informed than you, the technician, on energy saving devices. With the Internet, all many people have to do is ask a question and in very little time they have answers. Are you and your technicians as well informed? For our industry’s sake, I hope so. One customer may ask you about communicating thermostats, while another may ask about outdoor reset. The really informed ones may ask about low NoX burners and BioHeat. Are you prepared for these questions? We should all know the technical advancements our industry has made, but our customers only know comfort and cost. If they can be comfortable, they will be happy, if not, well…
We are seeing the last of the leaves falling from the trees and soon the ground will be covered with snow. The temperatures inside the homes of your customers is different from one to another, their level of comfort is different from each other. You and your technicians need to recognize this and adjust to their needs rapidly. Oil is still the best form of energy in my book!
There are over eight million oil heat customers who we serve. The age of our technicians is getting near to the number of leaves falling to the ground. However, unlike that tree, we will not have a new crop of technicians next spring, unless we do something about it now. Are you, as an employer, gearing up for when the torch passes? I do not see we are.
I see young people coming out of the trade schools and going into the plumbing trade and even the gas trade, but I see very few young people coming into the oil industry. I wonder why this is. Our industry needs to address this concern or we will lose more customers to the other trades. Our industry leaders are doing their part, now it’s up to us. We in the field are where the real change must come from. We will continue this conversation in the near future, but for now, let’s show all our industry customers we are ahead of the rest. Remember, there is no such thing as “one size fits all,” we are all different and that’s what makes this a great industry.
Until next time, keep those e-mails coming to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and as you know, I love reading some war stories from you.