Many of the Franklin in the Field posts contain snippets of advice and insights on how to increase your business. However, here’s one that falls into the category of “what NOT to do”. It was submitted by one of Franklin Electric’s Field Service Engineers. He will remain anonymous to “protect the innocent” as a 1960s TV show used to say.
I’ve had very few jobs better than being a Field Service Engineer for Franklin Electric. Our industry is full of capable professionals who are easy to work with and very good at what they do. And along the way, I get to address some interesting water systems challenges. However, a couple of years ago, I had a day that was just bizarre and downright embarrassing.
I had two site visits scheduled that morning with the same contractor. Franklin Electric’s territory manager, along with the distributor and myself met at the first prearranged site, a very nice rural home, and waited. However, the contractor was a no-show. Moreover, the contractor had apparently been a no-show at this site for quite some time, since his cable-tool rig was still in the front yard. The homeowner had been mowing the grass around it, with the grass next to the rig a foot high. I certainly wouldn’t have had the patience of this homeowner.
In any case, we finally got of hold of the contractor and were instructed to meet him back at his place of business, where he eventually showed up wearing a Tommy Chong t-shirt. He and his assistant, along with the three of us, then proceeded to the next residence that was reportedly having issues with a MonoDrive. We pulled up to the home, squeezing two pickups and a service truck into the driveway. The five men in our party stood on the front porch and rang the doorbell. A young mother answered the door holding a very new baby in her arms and a toddler daughter by her side. She seemed bewildered to see five men standing on her doorstep, and we soon learned why. The contractor had never notified anyone in the household that we were coming.
Surprisingly, she let us inside to take a look at the installation. The MonoDrive was periodically shutting down due to overheat. The simple issue was that for some reason, the contractor had stuffed fiberglass insulation around the drive, very effectively blocking all cooling flow. As a remedy, the contractor had previously replaced the drive, along with the pump, motor, and drop cable. Of course, analysis of these all indicated No Fault Found.
After removing the insulation from around the drive and saying good-bye to a very gracious homeowner, we followed our contractor back to his shop to review two motors which had reportedly come from other recent failures. He had to dig through a bone pile in his garage before he pulled out the two motors in question, one of which was 18 years old and the other a competitor’s brand.
It was just one of those days where all you can do is shake your head in disbelief. I recently learned that this contractor is no longer in the water systems business, and while it’s never a happy ending when someone in our industry goes out of business, in this case, I don’t think that’s a bad outcome. In the end, the reputation of our industry depends on what our customers–the end users–think of us. We all pay for even one bad experience, and we can spend years trying to make up for it.
I am confident that the next contractor these homeowners call for their water needs will be very capable and professional.