What Makes You a Better Technician?


Last month we discussed getting the water out of oil tanks, remember?  So now you have checked all of your customers’ tanks and are preparing for a trouble free winter regarding tanks, right?  Well, let’s hope so, but what about your new customers?  We all hope to gain new customers, even if they are from another oil company.  Have their tanks been checked?  Do you want to find out after a problem arises?  I think not.  What about the oil customer that has not had a service agreement with you or one of your competitors?  Do you think their tanks have been checked?  I think not.  But wait, if you have just accepted them as a service agreement customer, the bad tank problem is now YOUR problem!


            This season we are facing some concerns most of us have never faced before.  The economy!  We already have customers that can’t afford the bills.  They are trying to save every way possible.  The guy who used to pay to have his lawn cut is now doing it himself.  The guy who used to have a pool company to maintain his pool is now doing it himself.  Will the maintenance on his heating system be next?  I am hearing about many customers who unfortunately already have dropped their service agreement with companies.  This being the case, we need to properly advise the customers that they could be making a costly mistake.


            If we can’t save the service maintenance agreement customer, we must be ready for the next wave of concerns’the service breakdown of non-maintenance customers.  Many of those breakdowns come usually in the middle of the night.  I always wondered how the heating unit knew I had just gone to bed, haven’t you?  When we get a call from a customer who does not have a service agreement, you can be sure that you are walking into a problem job.  Last maintenance done WHEN???  Oh, boy.  ‘I guess I’ll be here a while” you should be saying to yourself.


            Please do yourself, your customer and your industry a favor, find all the problems the first time around.  Since most of us ‘guarantee” our work, you will have a hard time trying to charge for a repair the second time around.  As technicians, we know that the failure of the ignition transformer or igniter is not related to a circulator motor failure, but your customer only knows that they have no heat, again.  


            Whether you are working for yourself or you work as a technician for a company, it is in everyone’s best interest to make the repairs right the first time.  The best way to get money from customers is by making them happy.  As customers ourselves, we know that we must pay for repairs that we can’t fix ourselves. Right?  But that doesn’t stop us from trying first, does it?  When all else fails, call a professional.  We are the customers’ professional when it comes to their heating system.  Let’s act it!  Our appearance, our knowledge, our trucks all represent us.  The industry depends on you and me.  This technology changes quickly, are you keeping up with it? 


What are the three hardest words for a mechanic to say, but a technician knows very well?  If you have been reading this column for a while, you know the answer. In my experience those three little words are ‘I don’t know.”  Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer to something.  None of us know all the answers.  But a good technician will search out the answer to the question so that the next time he can replace those three little words with ‘I can handle that for you.”  Looking at the entire system and diagnosing all the problems, making all the repairs the first time, and having happy customers are our goals and that makes you a better technician (and more money)!


With the onset of winter, I will be starting to get busy so if I don’t get back to your emails in a timely manner, I guess I got one of those midnight service calls.  But keep writing, I will get back to you as soon as the snow melts. 


JohnGriffin@ tampabay.rr.com is the address.





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