By: Dean Landers
Professionalism is a word bantered about by almost everyone in the home services industry today. Interestingly, each individual has their own idea of what it actually means to deliver professional service to a customer. Some take it to simply mean answering the phone when a customer calls, showing up when you said you would, and fixing the appliance correctly. While these things are certainly embedded in professionalism they are not all that is required, at least not as we have determined according to surveys and polling from customers. Professional customer service demands a higher level of commitment on the part of the business owner. Professional service delivery includes personal appearance, hygiene, inventory, truck lettering, timely appointments, reasonable warranties, operating with honesty and integrity and much more.
Most appliance service companies in North America are small, with less than 10 employees. These owners have been able to determine their own standard for what it means to be a professional. Most have come up through the service ranks. They don’t answer to a board of directors. They are the sole determiner of what it looks like in order to deliver professional service. Trade organizations like the United Services Association have a Code of Ethics or an established set of professional standards but ultimately it is up to each individual member to honor those ethics and standards.
In order to raise the bar of professionalism across our industry the United Servicers Association has launched a new program designed to clearly identify what professionalism should look like and also provide a tool to insure adherence. The idea is to highlight the very best companies by providing a stringent level of vetting, confirming their commitment to customer service and professionalism. The Program was initially developed in conjunction with Sub Zero. The genesis behind the program is to identify top notch companies who would qualify for special benefits and discounts. The Approved Member Program is in it’s pilot stage and only applicable to current USA Members located in the United States.
We have developed an application that requires a wide variety of information, including back ground checks, customer testimonials, photographs of vehicles, uniforms, staff, etc. , copies of invoices, letter heads, and much more. The company information is put through a high level of scrutiny, confirming the veracity, integrity and character of the applicant. If approved, the company information is turned over to Sub Zero. Sub Zero than puts the USA Approved Member through their own internal process. If the USA Approved Member passes the Sub Zero process, the Approved Member would be eligible to receive a 15% discount on all parts purchased from their Sub Zero authorized parts distributor and also be able to process warranty parts through Service Bench during the 6 to 12 year extended parts warranty period. The Approved Member Program is good for 12 months and requires an annual review.
The non-refundable application fee is $250, which covers the administrative costs in doing the deep dive review on the applicant. The review process takes 6-8 weeks. Some of the additional requirements to achieve Approved status include having a dedicated land line business phone number that is answered by a live support staff person. Customer’s calls must be responded to within 24 standard business hours. USA Approved Members must offer customers not less than a one-year parts warranty, only use genuine Brand replacement parts and provide not less than a 90 day labor warranty. Approved Members must use a professional business management software program and have an active, modern website. There are continuing education and training requirements that include, among other things, attending a four hour Sub Zero training at the Annual Service Training Institute (ASTI), insurance coverage limits with bodily injury liability coverage of at least $500,000/$1,000,000 and property damage liability coverage of at least $100,000, and (c) comprehensive general liability insurance of at least $1,000,000. For a full list of requirements please refer to our web site for terms and conditions.
For additional information visit our web site. You can also call or E-mail our Executive Director Sarah Brown 773-249-4241, [email protected]
Printed in Retail Observer, May 2017 Issue
USA Approved Member Program Committee
President, Landers Appliance, Inc.