Unsupervised Service Calls Part 2

June 9, 2003

Service Calls When The Owners Aren't Home (Part 2)

How do PHCC members handle situations when the homeowner is not present during a service call? What if there are young children but no adults present? Here are some answers from members of the Quality Service Contractors (QSC), an enhanced service group of PHCC:

"When we are taking the service call we ask who will be present and can they authorize service. At that time if they say that only a minor child (under 18) will be there, we tell them that an adult must be present if children are at the home. Under no circumstances will we do a call with our tech alone with children. There are way too many indefensible situations that you could find yourself involved."

"Doing a call with no one at home is a little different. That depends on the relationship with that particular client. We still have to be very cautious, as that is a last resort to accommodate a long-standing client. That is another reason why we offer regular service to 7 p.m., M-F and Saturdays until 4 p.m. This gives those clients another option that isn't available from all companies that lets us avoid these uncomfortable situations."
Doug Santoro
General Plumbing, Inc., FL

"If there are kids under 18, we don't come in. If I know the family I might make an exception."

"As far as leaving a key, if they left a form of payment, we'll bite the bullet and go in. I've never had a problem. We'll obviously use our judgment and say no to some situations. I just can't recall any though."
Gary Wilson
Wilson Plumbing & Heating, MA

From e-PHC Profit Report by Jim Olsztynski:

John MacGregor of MacGregor Plumbing & Heating, Harbor Springs, MI, shared a sobering story with us. His company has been around for over 40 years, and has keys to more than 400 homes and cottages in their trading area. Only one time was any of their service techs accused of wrongdoing, when a customer discovered a $30,000 ring missing. The police were called in and interviewed a MacGregor tech that had been in the house on the day the ring was reported missing. Turned out the housekeeper found the ring behind a dresser. The homeowner apologized for putting MacGregor’s employee through all that.

The real story, though, is how the company manages to avoid problems with so many potential liabilities. “We have always encouraged our people to tell us immediately when something is damaged, or if there is a problem with a particular customer, so we can head off any potential troubles. We never penalize them as long as they understand what caused the problem. We address the issue at our weekly meetings so everyone can be aware of what can happen through no fault of their own.”

Good advice. Honesty is the best policy. Remember, though, if you expect employees to be upfront with you admitting mistakes, you need to keep your end of the bargain by not penalizing them for mistakes they admit.

Excerpted from e-PHC Profit Report
A weekly e-newsletter filled with money-making tips for busy PHC professionals.
Contact: Jim Olsztynski, Editor-Publisher
Subscribe to e-PHC Profit Report

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