Unsupervised Service Calls Part 1

June 9, 2003

Service Calls When The Owners Aren't Home

By: Jim Olsztynski

I write this on a day when I'm expecting a visit from an appliance repair service we've used many times before to our satisfaction. Marty, the owner, is competent, honest and accommodating, and so are two or three guys who work for him. That's why we like doing business with them.

Yet, the thought occurs that maybe he's too accommodating for his own good.

Like so many other customers people in the service trades encounter, my wife and I both work. When we need stuff done around the house, we try to time it for a day when one of us is off from work or our daughter from school. Ellie just turned 18 and will be off to college in another week, so scratch her from the housesitting list.

That leaves either Jenny or me to stay home, or else leave a key for the service firm. That's not a problem from our perspective with folks like Marty, whom we know and trust. I know many of you have the same kind of relationship with certain customers. I'm beginning to wonder, though, whether all of you are aware of how vulnerable you are visiting customer homes when no adults are present.

I began thinking about it from Marty's point of view. What's it mean for a technician to be in a home alone or with a minor? Think of the liabilities, large and small. What if the child gets hurt in the home while your technician is there? What if a pet knocks over a lamp that day? Will the homeowner blame your technician?

What if there is a bigger problem with the system than anticipated? Can the homeowner be reached? Can the child authorize service? Can s/he sign the check or credit card authorization? What if something turns up missing in the house, even if it's just misplaced by the homeowner? The tech may get blamed, whether guilty or not. And if he really does steal or break something, think of the potential for a lawsuit.

I'm not suggesting you never work in a home unattended by any adult. I'm just musing about all that can go wrong. How do top service firms handle these situations?

Do you allow your technicians to work in homes where no adult is present? If so, how old do the children have to be before they can let your technician in? Do you have any paperwork with suitable disclaimers?

Excerpted from e-PHC Profit Report
A weekly e-newsletter filled with money-making tips for busy PHC professionals.
Contact: Jim Olsztynski, Editor-Publisher
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