Advice to the Bowens, Others

I just finished reading John Hall’s article regarding Bowen Refrigeration, Heating and Cooling [“It’s More Than a Simple Game,” May 14]. I was somewhat confused about some of the recommendations given, and was compelled to write a response.

1. One comment was regarding having enough parts and material to perform the job for installations, and the recommendation was to haul a trailer behind the vehicle. This [action] not only adds additional safety issues, but is also expensive. I would recommend some attention be paid to proper inventory control, based on usage. Also, a checklist should be used prior to dispatching an installer to make sure he doesn’t show up without all the equipment he needs. We shouldn’t try to devote these kinds of jobs to memory; even if you’ve done something a thousand times, it doesn’t mean you have every single part and piece memorized.

2. On service contract sales, my recommendation is to have technicians simply offer the plan to every customer. It is not up to the technician to make the determination whether a customer wants a service plan, so why deny the customer an opportunity of having one. The technician simply has to mention [to customers] that service plans are available and ask whether they are interested or not. If they say yes, explain what it is and how much it costs. If they say no, that’s it. This could be a simple, scripted phrase like, “We offer service contracts that help maintain your heating/cooling/ refrigeration system in the best condition possible. We help you avoid service calls and unplanned costs. Would you like some information?” How hard is that? Just offering the option to everyone will increase sales dramatically, with no selling involved; just let customers know you have it.

3. Dispatching one service call at a time is a great way to kill productiv-ity. No one knows a service area better than the guy who is there every day. Instead of zigzagging them through the city all day, just make it a requirement and part of their routine to call in and clear each call as they go. But someone has to be there to answer the call, and they can’t sit on hold waiting, or get a busy signal trying to tell you what they are doing.

I just hope some hvac companies out there don’t take all of the recommendations seriously and try to implement them in their own personal business.

Will Bowen improve? Of course it will. Any time you pay attention to something or begin to measure it, somehow it always improves.

Frank Besednjak President The Training Source, Inc. Louisville, KY

Ruth King’s Reply

1.The trailer idea was a “tongue-in-cheek” comment that was never meant to be taken seriously. A warehouse person can always be justified.

2. We have a way that we are going to [offer] the customers service agreements. John Hall didn’t mention it in the first article. [Editor’s Note: To read the advice King gave the Bowens about service agreements and other subjects, see the article “Ruth King’s Advice to The News’ Contest Winners,” May 21.]

3. Technicians should never schedule themselves. There are too many reasons not to, and I’m not going to debate this one. If it works for you Frank, then great. Hopefully one of your guys doesn’t end up in a ditch hurt and no one knows where he is. This has happened to two of the companies that I’ve worked with. In the first case, the only way that anyone knew where to find the technician was that he called in when he left the jobsite and was told where to go next. When he didn’t get there, people went out looking for him and knew where to look.

There are other reasons to do this including: a technician putting off a call that he doesn’t like, knowing that he has a lot of calls and not spending the proper time with each customer, or stretching the calls — the list is endless.

Ruth King President American Contractors Exchange Norcross, GA

Going Downhill

Each week inThe News, I read about new hvac products. It seems that instead of continually introducing new products, the manufacturers should improve the quality of their existing products. I read recently where U.S.-made hvac units fail at many times the rate of their Japanese counterparts. It appears the U.S. producers have forsaken quality control and capital investment for short-term profits.

Just in the last month, I have had experiences with two new condensing units without Freon. One was leaking at the compressor welds. One unit had an incorrect wiring diagram. Another unit had copper tubing walls so thin that it failed three days after it was commissioned. Normally the installa-tion is more important than the equipment because this is where the greater margin of error exists. Customer relations are difficult with shoddy products.

In regard to energy use, America’s consumption of oil is not sustainable. It currently takes 330 tons of oil to produce $1 million of Gross Domestic Product. In Europe, it takes 140 tons. A fuel tax should be levied to encourage conservation. It is absurd when a gallon of gas costs no more than a cup of coffee, a renewable commodity.

Another subject I’ve read about with interest is taxes. The current tax structure is an abomination. You have corporations that pay no income tax, yet the working men and women are penalized for being productive. The income and wage tax should be abolished, and in its place a con-sumption tax should be implemented. If you buy a $70,000 car, you pay a 15% consumption tax.

American manufacturing, wages, and standard of living will continue to decline if the current trend of short-term individual self-interest is placed ahead of long-term, collective self-interest.

The working poor and middle class will continue to subsidize corporate welfare, private entertainment (sports teams), and multinational corporations.

William Wytiaz Littleton, CO

Publication date: 06/04/2001