I recently visited with a contractor who was having a grand opening of his company's newly relocated business. He was fortunate to get the local media involved, including live remote broadcasts from his location by the local radio station.

That got me thinking about the remote weather reports that our local television stations do from time to time. You have probably seen them in your community - especially around the times of ratings sweeps, when every reporter tries to give his or her television station a viewership edge.

Imagine This ...

So let's take a look at how a contractor might benefit from a visit from the local TV weathercaster during a cold snap. In this fictional scenario, subzero temperatures have reached a Midwestern town for the first time that season.

"Hello, this is Chick Widden from WHAC TV-7. Today we are broadcasting live from Comfort Heating. Owner Vic Vent has been gracious enough to allow us into his business while our community suffers through this cold spell. He is taking a moment to speak with us while his service techs are working nonstop to help restore heat for homeowners in our community.

"Vic, can you tell our viewers a little about furnace maintenance and any problems they might face?"

The camera backs out to show Vic Vent, nicely groomed and wearing his winter jacket with an embroidered Comfort Heating logo.

"Well, Chick, it is very important to keep your furnace in proper operating condition. You can do that by instituting a regular program of filter changes and inspections/maintenance from a qualified heating and cooling professional."

"How can homeowners be assured that they can get furnace service during this busy cold snap?"

"It is best if they sign up for a service agreement plan, such as the one that we offer."

The camera pans to service agreement contract with the words "Comfort Heating" prominently displayed at the top of the contract.

"That way, they are given first preference when it comes to emergency service calls or if their equipment needs replacement. A service agreement also can include visits to change furnace filters and discounts on other accessories, like humidifiers and electronic air cleaners."

"So, one call can put our viewers in touch with you, and you can discuss a service agreement with them?"

"That's right, Chick. And we don't put anyone on hold. Everyone gets attention right away."

"We will barely climb out of single digits today and the wind-chill factor will be 20-25 degrees below zero. Time to bring out the extra blankets and cuddle up. And it's time to make sure your furnace is working efficiently, right Vic?"

"Right. And if it isn't working efficiently, we would be happy to come out and give you an estimate on a new, high-efficiency furnace. We will perform a whole-house audit and show you where you can maximize your energy efficiency while saving money and adding to indoor comfort."

"Thanks, Vic..."

"And we always arrive with I.D. badges, use booties, and lay down mats to keep your floors clean."

"OK, thanks..."

"We put everything in writing, and, after we are done working, we leave your home cleaner than we found it."

Suddenly, the broadcast cuts to a commercial.

"Sorry, Chick, I got carried away."

"No problem, Vic. Just remember whose show this is."

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-362-0317 (fax), or johnhall@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 11/17/2003