CHICAGO, IL — A few days after Willis Carrier invented air conditioning, an argument surely arose over whether or not the person servicing the new invention should also sell sure-to-follow upgrades.

Now, decades later, the battle over the proper role of the technician goes on. During the most recent quarterly convention of Contractor Success Group, two debaters donned football garb and, with a referee standing by, offered some new twists on the “tech as salesperson” issue.

Tom Wittman of CSG said, “Every technician has the capability of evaluating every system they touch and offer the replacement option. They have to have the capability to offer those options.”

Don Haney of Steel City, Birmingham, AL, said, “Selling is not the job of the technician. It is the job of those specially trained for that role: the comfort advisor. The quarterback doesn’t play a tight end position. It is a team effort.”

Wittman responded that a technician needs to think beyond the three questions asked by a customer: Is it broken? Can it be fixed? What will it cost? Technicians need to consider, he said, the life expectancy of the equipment and whether or not a new piece of equipment would be a better choice.

He said the employer needs to let the technician “feel good about offering options. This is not high pressure.”

Haney countered by saying a company should “develop a service program that analyzes people and where their strengths are.” He suggested that contractors “integrate home comfort advisors into the service departments.”

Publication date: 09/18/2000