Family Road Trip Gone Wrong: How It Relates to Contracting & What Your Techs Should Be Doing on Every Call

My recent family road trip seemed to be going well. My wife, two little boys, and I were cruising south of St. Louis when about four hours into our journey, I had to pull into a gas station. Suddenly my car stalled. Ummm. What was that? I ignored the issue hoping it was nothing.

Several hours later, we reached our destination. Again, the car stalled any time we decelerated at a stop light or stop sign. Not good in a busy resort town. To get the engine to operate, I had to quickly slam the car into park, turn the key, and punch the gas. Yeah, it was a bit frightening—even more so with my whole family in the car. At any point, another vehicle behind me could have not paid attention, saw the green light, and accelerated into my bumper.

Thankfully, nothing happened. We reached our condo, but barely. A tow truck had to take the vehicle to a dealership 30 miles away. My wife and I were confused by the issue. Before leaving for our road trip, she had taken the car to an auto shop she had trusted for years. Lindsay gave them explicit instructions: Along with an oil change, please thoroughly evaluate the engine, tires, and brakes. We’re going on a long trip with some valuable cargo.

To make a very long story short, the out-of-town dealership found $1,500 worth of work. The engine had an issue, which should have been found if properly inspected,

and the tires and brakes should have been replaced. Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy, but not at the dealer. It was the best $1,500 I’ve spent, knowing that my family would be safe on our eventual drive home. I was fuming angry at the auto shop that gave our car a clean bill of health before leaving for an extended road trip.

Dealing with this frustration made me think of our business of contracting. At SGI, we preach to the membership the value of inspections and options. Hopefully, in turn, you preach their value to your technicians. Yet I know there are members and technicians who struggle with the concept of doing both. They want to walk in the home, fix the problem, and be on their way.

Friends, I know very little about cars. I put my trust—and my family’s safety—in the hands of mechanics. I want to know if something concerns them, and I want to know what my options are. I even want to know what their recommendations might be. That’s what you should be doing for your customers. Here’s why:

  1. You’re saving your customers time and frustration. My car issue caused countless hours of inconvenience when my wife and I just wanted to spend time with our boys on vacation. If you’re not notifying your customers of everything potentially wrong with their home, that seemingly small issue at some point could develop into a major problem, leading to another technician visit, schedules interrupted, and time wasted.
  2. You’re providing safety and peace of mind. You can imagine how angry I was when I discovered how carelessly my car had been serviced by an auto shop my wife had grown to trust. My little boys were in that car. We were driving on major highways at high speeds. A blown tire could have led to a catastrophe. Every single one of you reading this provides products and services that protect or enhance the lives of your customers. You owe it to your customers to thoroughly evaluate their homes and let them know if something potentially alarming exists.
  3. You’re doing the right thing. When you’re making a purchasing decision, you want all the information available. I know that I do. By providing an inspection and options on every single call, you’re educating your customers. You’re empowering them to do what’s best for them, rather than guessing you know what’s best.

To those who still feel a tinge of guilt doing an inspection and “upselling” on every call, please read this carefully: I would have LOVED to have been upsold before my road trip. I’m sure your customers will feel the same way when your technicians find an unexpected repair that might have later caused them time, money, and frustration. Instead, your tech is the hero because he did the right thing. So, please…do the right thing.