Growing up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I am no stranger to the cold weather. There were many days of shoveling snow in the icy cold and plenty of nights when my mom told me to throw another blanket on to keep warm in my bedroom in the basement. That’s when I decided that someday I would move to California.
So last year, on one very cold Saturday afternoon, Julie, my wife, discovered our furnace was not working. If we were living back in Chicago, we probably would have toughed it out through the weekend. Maybe thrown on some extra socks and snuggled up next to a cozy fire. But we had been living in California for six years and had become accustomed to the warmer climate. We decided to call our local HVAC contractor instead of toughing it out.
The company was able to come right out and take a look. The technician determined we needed a new gas valve and, after giving us a price, he went ahead and started to work. While he was cleaning up, Julie asked him if he had changed the filter. He had said he hadn’t put that in his quote and explained that it would be an extra charge. We went through the process again, agreed on a price and continued about our Saturday chores.
A $75 Filter?
A few minutes later, the tech came up to me and said that he did not have the right size filter on his truck, and neither did the shop. He would have to make a special run to their supplier, and since it was after hours on a weekend, that there would be an extra charge of $75 to get them to open their doors. We thought this was ridiculous, and I told him I would just pick up the filter myself at the local hardware store.
With only seven minutes to make it there before they closed, I told Julie to take care of the tech, while I headed into town toward Hewitt’s, the little local hardware store that somehow always seemed to have what I needed, when I needed it.
Now, in the three years I have lived out here in the country, I have only seen a police car in our area once, until that day. That police car turned on his sirens just as I turned into the parking lot of Hewitt’s, and I knew I was not getting that filter today.
I cursed that technician’s name under my breath as the officer walked up to my window and asked for my license and registration. If only the technician had the filter on his truck. If only the company had the filters in stock. Needless to say, that filter ended up costing me the extra $75 anyways.
Teacher Learns From Student
Since then, after telling my story at one of my Total Immersion Sales Summits, I’ve learned through an attendee about a new program for HVAC contractors called the Filter Fetch program. It allows customers like me to sign up for a filter program through my local contractor and have them delivered right to my door. There’s no long obligation or minimum contract to sign, and they send me friendly reminders when it’s time to restock.
When I asked my student what the benefit was to the contractor, he asked me if I remembered what it was like to store all those filters when I owned my own business. I remembered staring at unused, extra, odd- size filters collecting dust in the corners of the stock room and taking up valuable warehouse space or having to throw away damaged filters that had been bouncing around in the back of the tech’s truck. The time and money spent when a tech forgot to leave the filters for the customer and having to drive them out to their home at the end of a long day, only to receive a customer concern in the morning anyways complaining about our poor service.
I also remember thinking how great it would be to have a service where our customers would be sent their filters automatically, tying their business with us and not having to compete with the big box stores. The Filter Fetch program allows you to provide your customers a great personal service while keeping your overhead low and generating some nice profits, too.
Forget the late evening runs delivering filters to customer’s homes: Join Filter Fetch and leave the speeding tickets to them. Tell em’ Joe sent you and thank them for my improved driving record.