#171 - Rethinking The Warranty Period
The Sprinkler Nerd ShowJune 07, 202427:4311.1 MB

#171 - Rethinking The Warranty Period

Hey, my friends. Welcome back to another episode of the Sprinkler Nerd Show. I'm your host, Andy Humphrey. This is episode X Y Z, because I honestly can't remember. Coming to you from my truck.

We could call this an episode of truck talk, which I did, more towards the beginning of this show, not as of recent. And I am actually on my way to Chicago today. For a bunch of different events and business opportunities. And I had a couple things that were on my mind this week that I wanted share with you guys as it relates to service calls and warranty Andy just a few sort of future casting ideas about warranty that particularly came to my mind this morning. And I thought let's see.

I thought I would start with I thought I would start with how you communicate with your clients. And this probably relates more to service clients, service calls, but could could relate to construction, but let let's look at it through a service call lens. And I had firsthand experience with this with a company in my hometown because my water tank failed. Still not exactly sure. The service guy actually came just yet this morning.

I'm still not exactly sure what is wrong with it. I built my house in 2018. It is not a, you know, fine custom craft home. But it's also not a builder's choice, model home or or something on the low end. It's probably mid range.

And What's interesting, I'll I'll get to this a bit later is this is not the first appliance that has failed in a six year old home. Let's just let's just put that out there. Not the first appliance that's failed. I'll give you the rest of the story here in a moment. And yesterday, actually, it was last night.

My daughter came home, from her volleyball practice. It was late, let's say, 9, 9:30. And, she showers after practice, of course, and then she doesn't shower in the morning, and she goes, take a shower. And she comes down after she takes a shower, and she's like, hey. I I couldn't get the hot water on.

The hot water's not working. Scratch my head. Andy I'm just thinking, okay. That's weird. Maybe there's something up with your, you know, your your shower.

And then my wife said, you know what? I just washed my face before bed. And, yeah, I noticed that the water wasn't hot. So I, of course, would rather just jump into bed. It's 9:30 a night.

I went down into the basement, looked at the hot water heater, and the water was definitely not hot. I looked at where the cord was plugged in to the outlet, Andy I then went to the breaker box. All the breakers were fine, but there was no power to the heater. So I, looked at where it was plugged in. It actually plugs into an electrical outlet right above it in the ceiling Andy thought, okay.

Well, there's no power to this outlet. Why would there be no power to the outlet? Well, there must be something on this circuit that has a GFI that's tripped. It's my first thought. GFI must be something on this circuit that has a GFI and looking around the room.

This is in our storage, storage room in the basement. It's not finished. But it's not, you know, a dungeon either. It's just a typical probably nine foot ceiling, storage room in their basement. Andy we have an air filtration system that is, attached to our forced air.

Andy I'm looking up and I see its plug Andy its plug goes into the receptacle and the receptacle, sure enough, has a GFI on it. I unplug it. I hit the reset button. The little green light comes back on, and I'm thinking, yes. I am back in business.

Andy just on the the problem. Cool. Plugged everything back in. Turned off the water heater, plugged it in, turned the pass back on. It starts automatically.

I hear it fire up. I hear the exhaust fan kick in. And then 45 seconds later, pop. There goes the GFI again. Like, shit.

What in the world is going on here? So then, of course, I did the whole the whole shebang over again, reset the GFI was hoping was hoping it would work, turned the hot water heater back on, and then sure enough, 40 seconds later, blew the GFI again. And this is, you know, by now, probably 10 o'clock at night. I don't want to fuck around with this anymore. So I just I let it be thought I had thought I had solved it with a GFI, but I couldn't solve the reason that the hot water tank was tripping it, and there was a little bit of water dripping out of the bottom into the basin.

And I'm just thinking, alright. You know what? I'd better just bring in the professional. Wouldn't it be nice if if our clients always thought that about you guys? Let me not mess around with this myself.

Let me bring in the true irrigation professional. And we know a lot do, but it's interesting that some don't until they farce around with it for 2 days. And only then do they call you guys in? And then they stand over your shoulder, and then they complain about here, about the price, Andy then they say, oh, that was it. Oh, I could have done that myself.

Of course, I'm just making, making fun here. Andy we know some clients are like that. And again, I'll remind everyone, you get to choose your clients. So if that's the behavior, make a note, perhaps you don't service that account again, unless you need to, etcetera. All you always have a choice on who you do business with.

So in any case, so this morning, I first thing I did was I called the company that that installed it. They're very well known, both residential residential installation and service company. And this is where the experience got really really awesome. And there's two parts that we to this, actually. The first part is that I I just googled them up real quick.

Andy, you know, sometimes when you when you're on Google, your phone tries to locate you. However, Sometimes it just picks well, it shouldn't say picks random places, but it picks places that you're not just because of the data that's running through the either the cell towers or potentially the wifi network. So Google I didn't notice this, but Google had located me not in my hometown. So when I googled the name of this company, It brought up the same name, the same name I was looking for, but it wasn't in my hometown. And I didn't realize that the area code wasn't the same on the number.

I called them up. They did not answer. They did not answer the phone. I left a message. Only then did I realize that I called the wrong company because I know that the company that I work with offers 247 phone support.

They're not doing it, but they contracted out answering service, etcetera. I thought it was a bit odd that I re I I landed on a voice mail. So then I looked at my phone. Sure enough. That's when I discovered that I had called the wrong company because Google had placed me in the wrong area.

And that also reminded me that I had remembered that this company offers 247 emergency support and that you never get a voicemail. So I thought I would just share that also is that you can, for a reasonable fee, offer that to your clients. And I'm not saying you should. Everybody has to make a decision on what is valuable for their business and their customers, but you could. And just because you could doesn't mean you should, but I just wanted to put that out there is that stood out to me as a homeowner requesting service from a different trade.

I knew that I would not reach voice mail. So long story short, I'm gonna keep going here. I called the correct company. Got a wonderful woman on the phone. Again, I wouldn't if it was a man or a woman just happened to be a wonderful woman.

She, brought up my account right away because the phone number I was calling in on matched up with their records. She had, my name. She had my wife's name, both of our cell phone numbers, all the information about the equipment that we have at our house, and then she was able to give me a window, a scheduling window. From 2, no, 10 to 2 to have a technician come out. And this is where it got really great.

She she said that we would receive a text message when the technician was en route to our home Andy that we would receive the technicians GPS location. So we knew where the technician was and when the technician would be arriving. Andy I thought I would share both of these text messages with you just as an example of the technology that's available to improve the experience of your customers because I think I think that I'm not alone Andy the dissatisfaction that comes from needing to be at home from 8 in the morning to noon and not knowing when the technician's gonna come? Are they gonna come at 8, or are they gonna come at 1159? Do I need to be what if I wanna take a shower and they show up?

All those kinds of things is not as, it's not that it's dissatisfaction. It's just thinking that there's a better way to do it. And today, I experienced the better way to do it. And and, before we get to the moral of the story, these that when I read through the text message that I'm gonna read you here, I noticed that the URL link was coming from go dot serviceditan.com. So immediately, I was able to recognize that this HVAC company uses service taking Andy that perhaps this great experience that I'm about to have is because of the service taking software.

So here's the first text message that that we received. And what's also pretty cool is that it didn't just come to me. It came to both my wife and myself. To our to our cell phones on a text message. So here's the message.

Hi, Andy and Megan. Galen from X Y Z Plumbing Andy Heating Systems is on the way to 547 Hidden Ridge drive, you can track his location here, and that's where the service Titan link comes in. Then it says, Galen is a dedicated, highly skilled HVAC service technician with years of proven industry experience provided with stellar customer care. Ask us about our great membership options If you haven't joined yet, call our office with any questions. Thank you for your business.

Andy that's that's pretty sweet. We knew exactly when he was coming. We knew exactly where he was. Andy was at my office. They have a, a code to our garage so they could just get right in.

Andy then he, sends another text personally well, I shouldn't say personally. He, the person sent a text to both my wife and I, after he was done the inspection because he hadn't yet fixed it, but he let us know what he had discovered. And this is what he said that this came from him. And I I don't know that this came through Service Titan software. Not sure.

Don't care, but he says, hello. This is Galen from X Y Z Plumbing Andy Heating. I stopped by to look at your water heater, and it is leaking from inside the water heater tank. It is right on the edge of warranty Andy our office is seeing if we can get it covered under the factory 6 year warranty. The water heater was turned off when I arrived, but I have it running now.

Do you want me to turn it back off or leave it running? Andy how great is that? We're not home. He's texting with us. He's cordial polite.

Andy informative Andy working in our best interest to try to get it covered under the factory warranty. Andy, of course, I said, yeah, turn it on. We'd love some hot water. My shower this morning was was balls cold. Was shrinkage cold.

Andy and then I ended up calling him right away because I wanted to ask him a few more questions. Question number 1 is how did he get it to stay on? Because every time I turned it on, I was popping the GFI Andy perhaps it was just it was still wet, and it was tripping a circuit, and it wasn't as wet any longer when when he was there. If If perhaps there is a leak or the bladder is blown and whatever else, I don't know exactly how these things operate. But I was like, yeah, man.

Turn it on because I know is a problem. It'll pop the GFI. I'm not worrying about it being a safety issue. So, yes, please turn it on. We need some hot water.

K? So that's just kind of a a I wanted to give a firsthand example as quickly as it had happened so I could speak from just just speak from not not truth, but speak from experience and having someone come to my house and and to be able to share how great the service is with number 1, we didn't have to be that number 2. We knew exactly when he was going to show up. We knew exactly where he was. And when he was done, he texted us right away and gave us the update.

I don't think it gets much better than that until we get the bill. No. I'm just kidding. I know that it'll be reasonable And even even if it is, let's just say, higher than competitor b or see, do I really wanna call another guy to come out and spend all of of my own time with that? I that, you know, my time is worth more than the increased price of the next competitor.

So also just just keep that in mind is I think as long as you do, you provide good service, you provide good value, you're professional, and your clients trust you. Than you you deserve to be paid for your worth. Cool. Alright. Now now let me share sort of the future casting idea about warranty.

We built our house in 2018, Andy, I'm in my truck, and it is pouring rain here. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna hit pause on this recording. I wanna come back here as soon as Lorraine stops. Hang tight. I'll be right back.

Alright. I'm back. Hopefully, you can hear me a little bit better now. Let's talk about warranty. Warranty is often a time frame.

Right? 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 5 years, Andy get the idea. And with the failure of my water tank, I first thought why would my water tank fail in 6 years. And then to make matters worse, we have a stacked washer and dryer on the 3rd floor of our house. When I say Third Floor of our house, it's gonna sound like a little bit of mansion.

But the first level is the walk in basement. So it's technically, like, the second level. That level is just my kid, 3 kids bedrooms, a bathroom, and my wife had this brilliant idea of a a washer and dryer on their level so that they do their own laundry. And all the kids stuff is on the floor. It's all it's, you know, what it's like, kids.

Right? Their their mess is up there. We don't have to see, touch, or deal with their mess. They do their own laundry, but their washer has failed. Started getting grease on some stuff.

There was a little bit of water in the basin underneath. And we have a service technician coming out to look at their washing machine. Previously, we have an induction stovetop. Our first one failed. We had it replaced.

We are on our second dishwasher. First one failed. Last year, we had the coil on our not on the ace unit that's outside, but the coil that is on the blower unit in the basement failed. Andy so, you know, all these different appliances have all failed within 1 to 6 years, which makes me question a lot of things, but it also makes me think about What a warranty period really is? And I can understand a warranty period both from the manufacturing perspective and the the construction perspective.

But I I stopped to think about what does time, how is time related to warranty, or how is time related to failure Andy is time related to failure. Let me give you an example. Let's say you install an irrigation system for somebody this summer. And this is their and let's just say for instance, this is their summer cottage, and they're in their summer cottage for 2 weeks out of the year. And during those 2 weeks, they like green grass.

Well, so you fire up the system, Andy, you run it for a couple weeks before they get there. Andy they show up. Everything's green, running great. And then they and then they leave, and you shut down the system. So the irrigation system, let's just say, is only running 1 month of the year.

Hypes are pressurized for 1 month valves actuate for 1 month. Outside of that, there's no power on the wire, and we know power causes corrosion when wires are wet. We know pipe fails when it's under pressure for long periods of time. I would expect a system that is run for only 1 month out of the year to last longer than a system which is run for 12 months out of the year. But when we look at warranty, let's just think manufacturer's warranty.

Take any irrigation manufacturer and let's look at the valve warranty. Some valves have 1 or 2 years, some have 5 years. But again, an irrigation system that is operated 1 month out of the year I would expect to last longer than 5 years because if you add up 1 month a year times 5 years, that's 5 months of operation. Versus a system that has run 12 months out of the year after 5 years, that's 60 months of operation. Yet the same warranty period applies.

And we could stop and say, well, how is the manufacturer supposed to know how long the system has been in operation? And I would say, absolutely. They don't know. They do not know. But what if they did know?

That's the question I asked. What if they did know? Now let's think about, my home. I have 3 kids there. My son came home from college.

She's 20. My daughter's a senior in high school. My other daughter's a freshman. We use the crap of our house. What I mean, we use the crap out of it means we're cooking.

We're taking 5 showers a day. We're doing lots of laundry. We're really using our appliances to the maximum capability of of of that. I mean, unless we had 2 more kids at You're really not gonna use appliances more than my family does. We're probably peak appliance users.

K? But what if a couple, and I'm gonna stereotype here for a moment. What if a couple was seventy five years old? And they had no kids at home, and they ate out every day. So they never really used dishwasher.

They never used their stovetop. They did laundry, you know, maybe one load, one load a week, maybe, you know, they don't they they take one shower a day. They're they're not putting the same wear and tear, on the equipment. They're not using it for, you know, the same amount of time. So I would expect their equipment to last definitely last the warranty period Andy la it lasts much longer.

That got me thinking about my hot water tank. Okay? We we use lots and lots and lots of hot water. We're probably doing at least 2 loads of laundry every single we're taking 5 showers, at least, because sometimes my kids shower in the morning Andy the evening, we are using a ton of hot water. So that I thought, well, what if there was a way to know how many gallons of hot water my tank has you know, heated since we installed it.

Wouldn't wouldn't that be a good way to know when it might fail next? Or could that be a better way to know when it might fail versus time? Because time, if you don't use something, I mean, certainly, something could seize up because it's not maintained, but if you're not using it, you're not it it likely wouldn't fail as quickly. So what if there was a way to know either, you know, how many gallons of hot water went through my tank Andy or, you know, how many hours, let's say the unit was heating for, something like that, a way to count or or put a value on the usage as a statistic so that a warranty might say something like this, totally making this up. For my hot water tank.

Maybe it would say something like, warrantied up to 100,000 gallons of heated hot water or 5 years, whichever comes 1st. Why does why is that not how we warranty appliances? Take a dishwash Same thing. If you're doing one load of dishes in the dishwasher, every single day, 365 wash cycles, It's possible that the somebody in 5 years isn't doing 365 wash cycles. So why not attach the warranty to either time or cycle count usage, etcetera, or whichever comes first?

Andy that way, I would know or could know in advance. Wow. We just, we just ran the last drop of hot water through our hot water tank. It is now out of warranty, which also means now we're look now we're at a period where we're in high usage. We've we've put this number of hours on this device Andy there's a potential for it to fail.

So maybe we want to, you know, set some money aside because we know this can fail soon. It just find it interesting that there isn't a, like, a usage statistic, a counter, something to track how long a piece of equipment Andy appliance, in this case, has been used because I think that would be more indicative to its failure than simply time. And maybe the closest analogy would be a vehicle. And I don't know how all the warranties work, but it might say something like you know, 2 years or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. Do you buy a new vehicle?

Hey. Manufactured warranty is good for 20,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first. Because they know that things start to break down and fail when the car is put to use versus it just sitting there. So and in any any case, it the failure of my hot water tank caused me to have some thoughts about warranty that I had not had before Andy it might be something for you to take into consideration when you look at a warranty period, especially as it relates to your labor. Because a manufacturable warranty, they have a different warranty than you do.

So you might, you know, look at how how often or how much use is gonna be put on an irrigation system. Let's say Southern California versus Boston. Right? Boston's not in service for 5 months out of the year. California's in service for 12 months out of the year.

So a 1 year or 2 year warranty is a is different. There's different risk involved because the system is not operating for the same periods of time. And I don't know how to solve it. I'm just putting ideas out there just based on my own experience from something totally random like a hot water heater, but maybe some point manufacturers will start putting use counters on devices so they know, when something might fail or if it failed unexpectedly because it had only been the valve had only opened and closed four times, and now it's failed versus 4000 times. So I think you get the idea of beat this one in enough.

Thank you so much for listening Andy, you know, what's your thought? What is your sideways thought? What have you thought about or experienced recently that has caused you to think of something in a different way? Would love to know, shoot me a text, 208-908-3229. That is my personal cell phone.

I welcome all comments, feedback, anything you're up to, let me know. Love chatting with all you guys. Thank you for listening and, go out there. Have a great day. Try something new.

Experiment. Let me know how it goes. Cheers, guys. See you on the next episode.