Michael O’Grady

There are many different reasons why people purchase things for their home. The “why” factor in the in-home services industry is often tied to necessity.

People need a safe home in which to live. They need regular updates in their homes to keep their living conditions functional. They need clean water, well-ventilated air, cool temperatures in the hot weather, and warm air when it’s cold. Most products and services sold to homeowners are to benefit their basic comfort needs.

But many times, what they need and what they want are not working together. I’ve seen many people living in their homes in some very sad and scary conditions. I’ve seen people live in their homes without heat or hot water for more than a year. I’ve met homeowners who used to have central air, which stopped working years ago.

In these cases, they either didn’t have the means to get their systems replaced or didn’t consider replacement a top priority over their other purchases.


Sometime ago, one of my service technicians had been out to a fairly large home for preventive maintenance on the furnace. He found the furnace and air conditioning system controlling the second floor bedrooms to be in very poor condition, bordering on dangerous. He suggested that I come out to talk to the homeowners about replacement options.

When I arrived and sat down at their kitchen table, I realized that Mr. and Mrs. Customer were very unhappy. Mrs. Customer in particular appeared extremely mad. As I started to explain to them the reason I was called out, I was immediately cut off by Mrs. Customer. She turned toward her husband at the table and said, angrily, “If you think we’re not buying that new sofa because of this, you’re crazy!”

This prompted a heated argument between the couple, at which time I excused myself from the room. (Whenever you see that a couple is not in agreement, give them a chance to have a private conversation.)

In this case, when I came back to the kitchen, I was told that Mr. Customer had asked me to come over without conferring with Mrs. Customer. The challenge they were having was that even with creative financing, Mr. and Mrs. Customer could not fit the furnace, air conditioning system and sofa into their budget.

Since the furnace was a safety hazard, I gave them the option of changing the furnace without having to touch the air conditioning system. I emphasized that the air conditioning system needed replacing, but could be held off until their budget allowed, but should be their next priority.

By taking their needs and wants into consideration, I was able to accomplish several things:

1.Solve their budget issues, making Mrs. Customer happy that she can still have enough money to purchase her sofa.

2.Helped Mr. Customer off the hook with Mrs. Customer, which made me more of a hero, less of a villain.

3.Kept them safe and comfortable for the winter.

4.Put a job in the bank for me come the spring.

I know once the customer sees the quality of the workmanship, professionalism of my installers, the gas savings, and the comfort that the new furnace gives them, the air conditioning system will follow.

If I had insisted that the customers replace the air conditioning system along with the furnace, they may have chosen to do nothing and lost heat in the middle of winter, or they would have chosen a cheaper company with less attention given to quality work.

Worse, they could have used the system to the point of CO leakage. In all scenarios, we could have lost a customer.

Always put yourself in your customer’s buying situation. Concentrate on the “why” factor: Why do they need your product or service? Don’t be afraid to customize your product or service to meet their specific needs and wants.

Publication date:01/25/2010