Yes, I'm here to speak to you on the topic of booties: what they are, how you wear them, and what they represent.
Are They Necessary?I was talking with an acquaintance recently, "Ted" (not his real name). He was complaining about his working conditions. Ted installs and services alarm and fire systems. The small company he works for implemented a new policy a few months ago.
You guessed it. His boss ordered all field personnel to wear booties when working inside a residence or office building. I guess the boss lightened up on the rules for wearing booties in shop areas - seems that everybody has dirty shoes in those locations.
Ted thinks it is a nuisance to constantly put on and take off the booties every time he has to grab something out of his truck. At least he doesn't run in and out of buildings to take a cigarette break - then he'd really be complaining. He said it is a hassle just remembering to put those shoe coverings on.
I reminded Ted that conscientious HVAC techs make it a habit of wearing booties in customers' homes and businesses. It makes good business sense to keep the area clean and show respect for the customer's property. One little set of booties can go a long way toward customer satisfaction and retention.
Ted doesn't get that part of the equation. He said that if his A/C went on the fritz he would expect someone to "come out and fix it, booties or not."
I didn't tell Ted that his thinking was sliding down toward the Neanderthal side. I don't think he would have cared anyway.
They Are Part Of The EquationWhen HVAC contractors lament over hard-to-please or finicky customers, they should probably take solace in knowing that there are probably a number of not-so-fussy Teds out there. On the other hand, all of those Teds are ripe for learning the importance of booties.
I'm talking about differentiation here, plain and simple. Can you imagine the look on a customer's face; after enduring years of muddy shoes on carpeting and linoleum floors from techs of all trades, he opens the door to an HVAC service tech wearing booties!
I believe the look would be one of astonishment followed by one of gratitude.
Booties represent just one of many ways contractors can differentiate themselves from their competition. Other things include rolling out an imprinted red carpet at the front door, adding a spritz of room freshener to the furnace filter, leaving behind a coloring book for the kids, or a magnetic business card, to name a few.
The next time you send out a tech with booties, ask him or her to make a mental note of what other service companies may have left behind in the customer's home. Maybe there are few, if any, good leave-behind items, but maybe one or two will catch your tech's eye. Go ahead and use that idea on your service calls. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery.
If you really want to make a good impression, have your tech leave behind a pair of those booties - clean ones, not those the tech had on his feet.
John R. Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-786-1390 (fax), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 08/23/2004