We’ve all been faced with the same situation in our own purchasing decisions. You look for advice, try to fall back on experience, or simply do the math.
My client has learned from experience a few important lessons.
Lesson 1. I will always be there for them when they need me. Some way some how, I will cover them when an emergency develops. Dealing quickly with a situation is a good way to avoid a service issue evolving into a crisis.
Lesson 2. I will treat them fairly. I will offer them alternative solutions and advise of the trade offs associated with each alternative.
Sometimes regrettably, one of the alternatives is for them to obtain a part directly from a wholesaler or online. The fact is the web is full of people selling equipment for less than my cost.
This customer is part of a national franchise of similar facilities, and they have national accounts with catalog distributors who carry everything for a facility, including locks and door hardware. The guys at the top want to take away the individual location facility manager’s prerogatives. The facility manager must operate within budget, and possibly have to explain the expenditure.
Lesson 3. I will professionally install the hardware and honor the warranty, an important differentiator in today’s competitive market.
Most of the warranties offered these days are factory warranties, which means the manufacturer will deal with a bad product once it is returned to the factory.
Some manufacturers require you obtain a Return authorization before returning the item. Some require that you are the original purchaser or installer of the product and that you provide an invoice number.
Some manufacturers will provide an advanced warranty replacement which is helpful to get the door into service and avoid an awkward situation where there is nothing on the door while materials are in transit.
No warranty covers the time and labor required to go to a site and remove and reinstall the product, so I always emphasize to the customer that although a product has a warranty, there will be a labor and handling charge associated with honoring the warranty. I also commit to being there for them and handle it expeditiously if the need does arise.
That’s my job. I try to standardize on products which have earned my respect because of that magic balance which determines a good value; a recipe which combines cost, features, support and reliably. That’s the same formula clients use to measure me as a commodity.
You may have to route your returns through a distributor or you may be able to deal with the manufacturer directly. Some manufacturers require that a dealer have a factory account in order to do this, which means you are doing adequate volume of sales to open an account with them.
Details such as these are what build loyalty with dealers, and consequently build brand recognition and value among end-users.
Some vendors have built up their brand and keep customers with a good product and robust customer service, while others have killed their brand name and have lost out by treating customers poorly.
On this particular day, the door was one I had not previously worked on, and I had been servicing this account for more than five years. The item which had failed was a Simplex 5021XSW-26D.
This is a five-button mechanical standalone storeroom function keypad lever in brushed chrome with a SC-1 override key. I didn’t install it or sell it to the customer.
When I arrived, my customer showed me an in-swinging solid wood door in a metal frame with plaster ceilings and sheetrock or plaster walls. The lever was hanging at 5 o’clock, and there was no “Enter” button, just a hole where one had been.
The customer also reported that he could not find the key.
The room was used by housekeeping and they had grown accustomed to depressing the hole where the Enter button used to be, but when the lever spring broke, it caused problems.
At first I thought we were locked out of the room and I psychologically prepared for battle with the door, but then the customer demonstrated how he could hold the lever in a horizontal position, enter the code, push in on the enter hole and open the door.