Working as a field technician in the oil heat industry has never been an easy proposition. There is emergency work; there are customers to deal with; changing technology to stay abreast of; and often times working conditions are less than ideal. Since service is one of the cornerstones of our industry, then why don’t we celebrate the group of industry employees that get the tough jobs done day and night?
That was the thinking behind TankSure®’s Best of the Best contest. ‘We though it would be appropriate to celebrate the work ethic that we see across the industry, and what better individual group to recognize than that of the service technician,” said Gerry Brien, sr. vice president of the TankSure® Program. ‘When you sign up as a tech, you sign up for a 24/7 situation. Service techs need many types of skill sets, all necessary to be good at what you do. And, we all know that some of the strongest customer relationships that are made between industry employees and the consumer happen when the tech is in the basement. That’s why we were very glad to do this.”
Fuel Oil News Magazine met with Don Phillips, president of Quinoco, Inc, Bristol, Conn. Don’s service technician Paul Shackford was the winner of TankSure®’s Best of the Best contest in 2007 and was awarded a 2007 GM half-ton pick-up truck.
FON: Don, how did you hear about the TankSure® Best of the Best program for 2007?
Phillips: A representative from TankSure® contacted us. They’re always coming up with new marketing tools to help us retain our existing customers and attract new ones. The Best of the Best contest was one such program. Our tech, Paul Shackford, found out that his true calling may be in sales. In less than a year he signed up 260 accounts for the TankSure® Program, and another 251 for our service contract.
FON: About how many accounts, residential and commercial, does Quinoco carry and how many service techs do you employ full time?
Phillips: We have approximately 4,000 accounts in total and we employ seven full time techs and another three that do double duty as service techs and truck drivers.
FON: TankSure® has made partners of the insurance industry and discounts for homeowners are being offered by major underwriters like Liberty Mutual and the Hanover Insurance Group, to name a few. How has that benefited your customer retention?.
Phillips: This is a fairly new program that we are just beginning to implement.
FON: What were the compelling benefits for your firm to bring the TankSure® Program to Quinoco? In other words, what sealed your decision to get involved? And how many heating seasons have you been in this program?
Phillips: We’ve been with TankSure® for approximately ten years. Before that we insured tanks in-house. There are two main reasons for us choosing TankSure®. First, is the ability to test tanks using the ultrasound equipment that they provide, which gives us the ability to proactively replace tanks. It also allows us to exclude tanks from the plan that are in poor condition. The combination of these activities means risk reduction for us, our customers, and our underwriter. Second, is their marketing ability and willingness to help us with marketing. TankSure® has helped us with the design of many of our promotional pieces.
FON: How have your marketed your use of the TankSure® Program to your customer base?
Phillips: We provide information on the TankSure® Program in our newsletters, service contracts, and other correspondence mailed to our customers. But what we’ve found to be most the effective marketing tool is when our techs promote it during the annual tune-up or during a service call.
FON: What value do you believe this offer brings to your business? And what other value-added programs can you tell us about that you use ?
Phillips: TankSure® is a valuable program, It gives your customers one more reason to stay with you. Customers that take advantage of the insurance discounts will have even more reason to stay with Quinico. As far as other value-added programs, this past summer we started adding ‘Heating Oil Plus” fuel additive to our heating oil. We find it to be a great marketing tool and we’re already seeing less oil related service calls. We also sell Bioheat