BIM: So what you’re saying is that when I get home after a long day. I may have been out to dinner with a client and I get home at 9:30pm at night. It’s been a hundred degrees here in Chicago and I walk into my house and it’s a sauna. I can call you and you’ll have someone out there within 60 minutes. So by like by 11:00pm someone from American Weathermakers will be there they’re fixing my air conditioning.
Dick: Yes that’s exactly right.
BIM: That’s fantastic! People need to know that because I think most folks out there are sometimes afraid because they think “oh my gosh it’s after business hours so I’m going to get socked with emergency fees or overtime fees or whatever extra fees.” But what you’re saying is that that’s not even an issue with your company, is it?
Dick: They don’t have to wait till the next day. We’ll be there within 60 minutes. They can go to work the next day. They don’t have to take off work and wait for a service man. And we never charge overtime and we never charge travel time. We really believe that this is how the HVAC industry should be because it’s just good customer service. So we’re a little bit unique in that way. Most heating and air conditioning companies charge extra fees because it really cost them a lot to go out at night or on weekends. With American Weathermakers, it’s the same price 365 days a year no matter what time you call. And all with the same guarantees.
BIM: That’s brilliant. So what is one thing that someone reading this can do to help them overcome that issue. Meaning, besides just picking up the phone and calling you, are there other things or other solutions that they can tap into that will help maybe prevent this kind of emergency call from happening in the first place?
Dick: Well I really believe that most service problems today are completely avoidable just by routine maintenance. For instance, the most common service problem is just a dirty filter or a plugged filter. The have a beautiful home but they forget to change their filter. Our service technicians when they come out are trained to look for things like that. So our solution is what we call our Comfort Club. Today we have over 5000 homes in Chicago land as members of our Comfort Club and we see these people twice a year. We do a furnace tune up in the fall and an air conditioning tune up in the spring. We make sure that all of their equipment is running to its peak efficiency. When the service technicians are out, they clean the condenser coils in the air conditioning unit because your unit, even though it doesn’t look dirty to you necessarily, the coils in the air conditioning unit is filthy. When it’s filthy, it’s covered with dirt and not operating efficiently making your air conditioner work much harder and wear out sooner. I always say you wouldn’t go out and sit on your patio furniture after the winter without washing your patio furniture off because there’s so much dirt and pollution on it. Well think what’s on your air conditioning coil and that dirt is all impeding the efficiency of the unit. So most of the serious problems are avoidable just by having the technician out there inspecting everything and they can look for problems and often you avoid those problems in the middle of the night. So just routine maintenance really pays for itself. Our Comfort Club members, almost 5000 of them, if they ever did have a problem and they usually don’t after the season tune up or their preseason tune up, they have front of the line service. So if they call in on a hot day and it’s 100 degrees outside and we have 100 service calls in front of them, they move right to the front of the line and get the first technician that’s available to get out there to deal with their issue. They also get discounts on their service calls of at least 15% and they get discounts if they ever have to replace the furnace or air conditioning unit. We call them loyalty credits for being Comfort Club members. Our members also have lower utility bills and the peace of mind of knowing that their equipment is in tune and operating at peak efficiency. So many of our homeowners today are snowbirds and they go to Florida for the winter. And one of their worries is something is going to happen to their furnace when they’re out of town. If they just have a properly tuned furnace, it’s not very likely that they’ll have any problems.
BIM: That’s definitely piece of mind and it also sounds like this Comfort Club pays for itself over and over again just saving the furnace, air conditioner, reducing the utility bills and making sure things don’t break down. That’s fantastic!
Dick: It absolutely does pay for itself. And again you can pay monthly for it. It’s only $17.50 a month and includes your 2 tune ups and all these discounts. And when it’s time to replace a furnace or air conditioning unit, as nothing is going to last forever even with the best maintenance, you get a majority of those payments back in terms of the discount on that furnace or air conditioning unit.
BIM: How long has the Comfort Club program been saving customers money and headaches?
Dick: We’ve called it the Comfort Club for almost 20 years now but we’ve always had service plans. It’s really grown in popularity over the years. And so today most often people call us for three reason, for tuneups, no cooling or no heat service call or replacement of equipment. And most of the customers who call us for either the tune up or for a service call, they all join The Comfort Club because they get the discounts right up front. So it’s really become a very popular and very unique program.