June 13, 2004
Business for the Asking
Dear Furnace Dealer,
I confess. I didn’t check my furnace filters last month.
There’s a three year old furnace in my basement. Designed right into it is a slot for storing the manual and service records. A sticker on the slot has your name and number and acts as a log for all service visits.
I saw this recently and thought it was a great idea to make sure that the records and documentation don’t get lost. I even pulled out the documentation, just to see what was there. What I found was a shocking surprise.
I’m supposed to be inspecting my furnace filters every three to four weeks. I’m to clean them when they’re dirty, and to replace them when necessary. (A convenient 40 cell table is provided to figure out which filter I need.) A nine point checklist is included along with an admonition to be careful lest I make a mistake and suffer “personal injury or death.”
Once a year (or at least every other year, the manual concedes) I’m supposed to have you out for “regular dealer maintenance.” You have an even longer checklist, and, I presume, less fear of death while completing it.
Now I suspect that most furnaces get their three week filter inspection on the same day of the week that most coffee makers get their weekly diluted vinegar cleaning. But I’ve seen a really dirty coffee maker and I’m getting nervous about the three years since my furnace has been examined. Maybe it’s full of muck, too.
For a moment, looking at the furnace, I had a sense of appreciation that you conveniently put your number right there on the furnace. As I looked at the dated service log, though, my appreciation faded away.
The only entry on the log is when the furnace was put into service. You know a lot more about the furnace than I ever will. You even knew the date it was installed. Why didn’t you call me to schedule the inspection a year after installation?
Sure, if the furnace stops working, I’m going to call you. It’ll probably be during some cold month when lots of other people are calling, too. Wouldn’t you rather do the maintenance during a slow month? Couldn’t you offer me a discount if I agree to have it done on the same day you visit everyone else in my neighborhood? Don’t you want a chance to talk to me about adding a humidifier or an air conditioner or upgrading to a more efficient furnace?
You installed the furnace. You know that it needs regular maintenance. Why take the risk that I’ll open the yellow pages? Just call me and ask for my business. You’ll get a profitable repeat customer and I’ll be absolved of guilt, knowing that my furnace doesn’t look like those coffee machines.