No, I haven’t been hitting the eggnog … yet. Is there any rule that says you have to send a greeting card to an animate object? Not that I know of.

For some of you contractors who know where I am headed and know the spiel, bear with me. For those of you who think the headline is just an attention grabber and nothing more, listen up.

It is not uncommon for businesses to send out holiday greeting cards to customers - this tradition is as old as any in the customer relations’ handbook. But the really innovative businesspeople have taken that tactic one step further. They send out greeting cards to the equipment they have installed in a customer’s home or business. Specifically, the equipment gets a birthday card.

Now that may sound a little farfetched but believe me, it really is an attention grabber. By the time you read this blog, it may a little too late to send a holiday card although Happy New Year is still an option. So instead, look up your records for all of your new furnace installations or replacements from 2007. Next, set up a database of these dates along with reminders to send out a birthday card a few days before the anniversary of the installation.

If you don’t already have a maintenance contract for that new furnace you installed (shame on you) this would be a perfect time to suggest one. You have my copyright permission to use this type of greeting in your card: “Happy Birthday! How does it feel to be one year old? Have your owners been taking good care of you by changing your filter on a regular basis and keeping the area clear around your base? I sure hope so! By the way, do your owners know it is important to have annual check-ups to ensure your proper operation? Humans have regular checkups - why not furnaces? Ask them to call us today to set up a regular maintenance plan. We want every one of your birthdays to be happy and healthy!”

Your customer will either think you are whacked or an incredibly clever businessperson. I vote for the latter.