So I had an HVAC issue. It wasn't all that big a deal -- that's the benefit of living up on the eleventh and twelfth floors, and the modern advances that make space heaters safe, powerful, and affordable. I pushed the whole thing off for a while because I was so wrapped up with work, but this Saturday I finally had a chance to do something.
But you already know I'd never write about that for its own sake -- hang in there.
As I opened up the phone book with a loosely-defined plan to cold call anyone with a "978" area code, I swung and missed at the first couple of numbers. On the first two opportunities, all I got were recordings that offered to transfer me to answering services. Not wanting to be a hypocrite about the whole voicemail thing, I took them up on the offer but -- no surprise -- the people I got patched through to couldn't help with any of my (very basic) questions.
I worked down to my next number, which was for Affordable Heat & Air in Billerica. I faithfully dialed the ten digits and was soon talking to an actual HVAC specialist with whom I could share details about what was working, what wasn't working, and how I might describe it. Bear in mind, if you've ever heard some variant of the change-a-lightbulb joke where the punchline involved calling an electrician, that about sums up my level of handyman expertise.
No surprise, Monday has passed us by now and I never heard back from the first two businesses. But that's all water under the bridge, so to speak, because the guy from Affordable already came by today before the missus' shift and solved our major problem.
Here's the best part: In the process of coming up and down the elevator on trips back and forth to his truck this morning, the guy found two other leads, as in people from the building who sought him out because they were also having HVAC problems.
Who knows who else those people may know. And so on and so on. You get the idea. If you've ever read a Malcolm Gladwell article about networking, I know you're already excited.
I have a feeling I'm not the only person who works during the week and can't necessarily carve out time during *company hours* to start calling around to people to start talking about work that needs to be done on the house. I can't be the only person who puts those sorts of things off, along with other major errands, until Saturday.
A service that wants to win the business of people like me should keep that in mind, adhering to the Keep It Simple, Stupid premise that says, "Many people work Monday through Friday. By being responsive to customers on Saturday, we'll differentiate ourselves from those who aren't. Business will therefore grow."
Remote technologies like cell phones and Google Voice make this way easier than it would've been years ago, where it would've meant tying up an employee near a desk for that whole day. The wisdom of companies and services who grasp this will be reflected in their bottom lines.