The Fears of Residential Service Contractors: Air Conditioning, Electrical, and Plumbing

Residential Contractors face a lot of fears.  And, they are not cowards.  Air Conditioning, Electrical and Plumbing services providers are in a very hard business.  They are in the business of:

  • solving problems
  • managing and motivating employees
  • building their business
  • avoiding costly mistakes
  • managing their fears of running a small business

Having ran a small air conditioning and plumbing company myself, I have faced many of these fears.

FIRE!  My biggest fear came true

The fear of running a small service company came to a quick reality when I got this call:

Hello, hello!  Is this Drain and Air Rescue?  This is Mrs. SMxxx.  Can you hear me?  The fire department is here.  My home has burned down.  You burned down my home!

My heart instantly sunk.  You do not want that phone call.  Her voice, the sound of the sirens, will forever be burned in my memory.  I can still feel the anxiety and the fear as I type these words.  I can still remember the day and time:  Sunday, at 1:13 PM.  I was at my mother-in-law’s house.

I took the on-call phone that week to give our on-call CSR a break.  Since I had the on-call phone, I also had the on-call service computer.

I logged in, checked the notes.

Notes:  Mrs. SMxxx has an unsafe disconnect.  It is overheating.  I believe this to be a potential fire hazard.  I have informed Mrs. Smxxx of the unsafe condition.  She does not want to replace the disconnect.  She has agreed to not hold us liable, and has signed off on a liability waiver.

An Ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of . . .

What a relief!  I’m truly sorry that Mrs. Smxxx suffered damage from a fire. But, I’m very happy we were not to blame.  Our service technician took the proper and necessary steps to offer protection to the home owner.  She said, “No.”  He then protected the company.

There was no other phone call from Mrs. Smxxx claiming we burned down her house.

Are you Protected?

If your fear came true, would you be protected?  Would you be able to weather the storm?

I asked the members of Service Roundtable to let me know what their biggest fears are as the owner of an air conditioning, electrical or plumbing company.  Over 1,400 companies received the survey.

Here are the submitted results.

Residential Service Contractors Biggest Fears*

#1 Silent Phones:  26%
#2 Poorly Performing Employees:  22%
#2 Crushing Debt:  22%
#3 Disgruntled Clients:  12%
#4 Not Being Able to Sell the Business 9%
#5 Government Regulations 6%
#6 Finding Management Personnel 3%

Fears of Residential Contractors:  Air Conditioning, Electrical, and Plumbers*Per submitted results

Overcoming the Fears of Residential Service Contractors

The honesty of those who submitted their results was awesome.

Your answers are going to craft a series of future blog posts, as well as my presentation at the Service Roundtable International Event on Feb 12th at 2:00 PM.

If you would like to submit your input on the biggest fears, then you can complete SURVEY BY CLICKING HERE. 

Question:  Have you ever taken the “my house has burned down” call?

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18 thoughts on “The Fears of Residential Service Contractors: Air Conditioning, Electrical, and Plumbing

  1. Got a call this morning from the daughter of a customer we are doing a sewer replacement for. She was freaking out over the cost. We “took advantage of an old man” blah blah blah. I quickly got her hysteria under control and had the tech call her and walk her through what is being done. The more I thought about what she said, the more I thought she was over reacting and over playing the situation. “I’m 43 and my gut tells me I’m right about this” and then I remembered she said her dad is 70. Well, listen…I’m 43 and my dad is 70. He’s perfectly capable of making decisions with his money and definitely wouldn’t want me running interference. I called her back to see how she was feeling after talking to the tech. Still not good but she did say that it was her dad’s decision. She also acted defeated and said “it’s already done”. I told her it most certainly wasn’t done and asked her what she wanted me to do. She gave the go ahead. My gut tells me she will be back for round two, but she made two concessions that give me ammunition if she does attack next week.

    It isn’t causing a fire in a customer’s home, but it is a disgruntled child of a customer, which is worse than the disgruntled customer.

    Steve always says, “if you handle it up front, it’s a condition (like the note that the customer knew the faulty electrical issue and declined), if it comes up after the job is done, it’s a problem.” He drills that into the guys’ heads so they always make notes on the invoice and we make the customer sign and initial EVERYTHING.

    Thanks for the vent!

    • It does sound like you will be in for a “Round 2” match. I know you will be able to handle anything that comes your way.

      Steve gave great advice! Handle it up front. Don’t wait. If you wait, it’s too late.

      Great additions to the conversation Rachel!

      – Rachel is a training member of The Accountability Program

  2. Thank you for this wonderful chart. Sometimes I feel like it is just us who has these issues and fears! It’s nice to know that others are in the same boat and we are not alone in this.

  3. Ive not taken the phone call, but saw it on television from a news helicopter. A house was on fire we installed the heating and cooling system in. It was reported the fire started in the attic where the heating system was installed. Knowing the home had a heatpump I knew it wasnt gas but was concerned about faulty electrical connections. It was later determined the fire started with a bathroom exhaust fan.

    • Dave, thanks for writing. Here are the numbers. 481 opened the email. We had form completion percentage of 38.18%. It would have been great to get more responses. But, I’m very grateful for those who answered. And, thank you for your question. Will you be at the Event?