Guest columnist Charlie Greer sure did strike a nerve when he questioned if providing 24-hour service helps a contractor keep customers (“Do You Really Want 24-Hour Service?” July 14). He concluded that contractors might be shooting themselves in the foot by being available 24/7, noting, “My observation is that forced overtime is the primary complaint among service techs and the primary reason for the exorbitantly high turnover rate in this industry.”

Well, readers have responded. And, based on the answers to The News’ recent online survey, they do not agree with Mr. Greer.

Reasons For 24/7

We asked a simple question on our Web site: “As a contractor, do you provide 24-hour service, 7 days a week?” Only three respondents answered “No.” Fifty-six answered “Yes,” and gave the reasons why.

For instance, in the eyes of Guy Callicoatte, owner of G&S Electric and Refrigeration (Aspermont, Texas), providing 24-hour service “gives us added value as a contractor.” Meanwhile, Kenneth Goodrich, president and CEO of 24/7 Service Corp. (Las Vegas), said he contracted with a marketing consultant to determine what customers really wanted from his HVAC service company.

“They said, ‘Be there when we need you, 24/7,’” wrote Goodrich, who is answering the late calls. “We did it to differentiate ourselves from the competition. And, night and weekend business has less competition and usually work that is more urgent and complicated.”

John Quinn, owner of Quinn’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling (Philadelphia), noted that “clients do not always have a 9-to-5 lifestyle and sometimes emergencies arise.” Joseph Ray, service manager for Wallner Plumbing, Heating and Air (Redding, Calif.), was more direct: “We are in a service business. Service requires responding on demand.”

In the resort area of Sunset Beach, N.C., contractor Pete Peterson, who jokingly labeled himself president and janitor of Sunset Beach AC Inc., said rental companies in his area require 24/7 service. “It represents a very strong replacement market,” wrote Peterson. “We actually replace equipment after hours and on weekends.”

Pete Jordan, president of Quality Mechanical Contracting Inc. (Naples, Fla.), just believes “living in Southwest Florida is brutal without air conditioning.” Thus, his company answers all calls. “I do because most of my contracts are with clubhouses and hospitality facilities,” he explained.

Gary Mathews, president of Matco Service (Coppell, Tex-as), stated, “My customers all live in Texas. Do I need to say more?”

Meanwhile, Bob Chason, president of Chason Service Engineers Inc. (Timonium, Md.), said the demand is there in his area, “and we are able to charge extra when the customer does not have a service contract. This will motivate some customers to take out policies.”

Customers’ Needs

Comfort Technology (Dryden, N.Y.) does provide 24-hour service, but comfort advisor Steve Scott hinted that might change. “We are considering offering 24-hour service to our service agreement customers only,” he said.

Andrew Smith, president of Aire Serv of Southeast Texas (Nederland, Texas), commented, “We have found over the years that elderly and ‘new baby families’ do have urgent after-hour needs. Industrial and critical care facilities generally do not call unless the problem is urgent to continue safe operation.”

Service manager Mike McCabe of Gateway Refrigeration (Calgary, Alberta) said his clients simply require 24/7 service. “Grocery stores, computer rooms, etc., must have service at all hours or they will potentially lose megabucks.”

To be fair, the three dissenters each had a reason for staying out of the 24/7 camp. Wrote one: “Customers don’t want to pay premium rates and my employees don’t really want to work it.” Another said: “We provide 7-day service, but during daylight hours only.”

Overall, though, they were not in the majority. Sorry, Charlie.

Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or

Publication date: 10/06/2003