When performing routine maintenance at customers’ homes, it can be easy to become distracted and overlook a step or two — especially if customers start asking questions or just want to chat about the weather, grandkids, pets, etc.

Having said that, I do recommend chatting a bit with customers; it’s a very good way to build your relationship with them and can often lead to business opportunities when the customer is comfortable talking to you.

After making numerous mistakes when I started out, I found it advantageous to develop a systematic approach to help prevent things from being missed during routine maintenance visits.

At the door: Go in initially with a flashlight, clipboard, floor savers, and a few dog treats (if dogs are present, you might be surprised what a couple of treats can do to make your visit easier). Introduce yourself to the customer, inform them what you were sent to do. Ask if the system is performing to their expectations, and find out if there are any additional tasks they want done while you’re there. Make sure your truck is parked out of their way and ask what path in and out of the structure is best to use.

At the equipment: Start with the thermostat. Turn it to the mode you will be checking, and adjust the temperature to make the equipment run (make a note of what the thermostat setting was so it can be returned upon completion). Then proceed to the equipment and visually/audibly make sure that it has come on and is running. Next, shut off the equipment at the disconnect(s), retrieve the appropriate tools from your truck, and proceed with your cleaning and inspection of the equipment. Then perform operational checks. Write up any issues you discover and discuss them with the customer. Make or schedule appropriate repairs if necessary, clean up any mess, and return your tools to the truck.

On completion: Return to the thermostat and set it back to the noted setting, complete any paperwork with the customer, ask the customer if they have any questions, and be on your way.

The above steps have helped me reduce problems and prevent callbacks related to missed or forgotten steps during routine maintenance calls.

Eric Kaiser is a service technician at Appel Heating & Air Conditioning, Carmel, IN. He can be reached at 217/827-0400 or by email at hvackaiser@yahoo.com