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I tend to take everyday experiences and use them to illustrate business or career issues. This story is interesting because of the brand message this company obviously has spent time working on but failed to execute properly.

A couple of weeks ago I hired a company to service our air conditioning unit for $139 per year. Not a bad price since it included two air conditioning services and and one electrical service. I hired the firm because they were highly recommended by a friend. For the purpose of this blog, the name of the company is fictitious so we will call it Superior Air Conditioning. My friend said they were extremely thorough and very superior. When I called, they answered the phone promptly, were courteous and knowledgeable. I thought this is superior service!

We scheduled an appointment and they did not show up the first time but rescheduled for another time. One ding against them... but I was OK. However, they were right on time for the rescheduled appointment. A young handsome technician was in charge of my service. He well-groomed, very neat, clean and professional looking (his uniform had Superior written on it). Before he entered the house, he rolled out a small red carpet with Superior written on it and then applied booties over his shoes. I admit, I was impressed and thought this is superior since this has not been my "air conditioning" experience in the past.

The technician spent a long time in my attic servicing the air conditioning. When he was done, he worked on paperwork and then sat down with me to review the outcome of his service. I thought this was interesting and far superior than any other service I have ever had. He also had pictures to show me of the air conditioner - that's a first!


Red carpet

When we sat down, he told me I had many, many issues with our air conditioning. He produced form upon form of checklists and ratings that displayed how my poor air condition system is failing. I was quite alarmed. He then pulled out a pricing list of what needed to be done to it. I looked at the three pages of pricing and it totaled over $8,500. He said, "So when do you want us to start?" My eyes were bulging, I was sweating and my heart was racing. My internal alarm system was sounding off. I was amazed that Superior Air Conditioning did not think my air conditioning system was in any way superior. After I caught my breath, I asked him to break down the numbers but for some reason he was unable to do that. Another internal alarm sounded. I basically told him I would need to think about this and get back with him but he held steady and pushed me more making me feel I was not a good person for not signing on the dotted line at that moment. (Hey, my kid was headed to college the next week...what did he expect?) I told him rather firmly that I would need to review all of the information with my husband in order to make a decision. He huffed a bit and asked me if I was sure. I was definitely sure.

The next day the Electrical Technician came in. It was the same scenario and this time the bill would be much less...around $4,500. He did tell me my house might potentially burn down if I did not replace my electrical box. My blood pressure went through the roof. Oh boy, what have I signed onto, I thought?

Do the math on these costs...it is scary. I called my friend and told her what happened and she laughed and said, "Ya, they try to sell you everything but they are superior." I wished she had warned me. Needless to say, I had two other professionals look at my air conditioning and electrical and while I do need work, it is more in the range of $500.

So is this company superior? Of course not. While they have done a wonderful job of branding their name and service, they fail to live up to good business ethics and morals. They have the appearance of a great service but underneath the facade, they are taking advantage of people. It is a shame since in this economy we demand great service at a good price. It is not nice to frighten people into buying things. Even if I needed all that work, I would have felt better if I had not been pressured.

My advice is when you brand yourself or your company, do it in a way that is honest, straightforward and paints a clear picture of who you are and what you really can do and deliver. Be there for your customers and be honest with your clients. Roll out the red carpet, provide them with 24/7 exceptional service, do what it takes to get the job done and make them happy. If you have to deliver bad news be sensitive to your client...hold their hands if you need to. Just don't ever let your brand go bad.


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Comment by Teresa Stohs on June 7, 2013 at 10:48am
I think I have met this company before but they were in the car repair business.
Comment by Aidan J Byrne on August 30, 2010 at 4:30pm
Thank you Carrie That is a great story Carrie.

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