Installations Not on Clients’ To-Do List

By Beacon Staff

Despite the ever-increasing demands on people’s time, I still come across businesses who don’t get the full-service concept and why it makes them more money than the lazy “I’ll think about carrying it out to your car….IF you ask me.” model.

For example, there’s a home store with a great selection of wood stoves, pellet stoves and gas/propane stoves (in this case, I mean freestanding fireplace types, not kitchen stoves).

If you go into this store and purchase a stove (we’re talking about a $1000-2500 purchase), they will help you… carry it to your vehicle. That’s it.

They don’t install. They don’t remove the old one. Put yourself in the place of any one of the following people: busy executive, 2 job couple who value their limited weekend time, single mom, young married couple, tool-challenged guy, older couple, etc.

We’re talking about people who don’t have some combination of the time, the vehicle, the expertise or the strength to load the new stove, carry it home, tote it up the stairs, remove the old stove, install the new stove, hook up the gas, cut an exhaust hole and install the chimney/stove pipe/exhaust, carry the old stove out to the vehicle, and take the old stove to the dump.

Please don’t sell $1000-2500 items like a 6 pack of beer.

If you don’t offer full service, and someone else does, that someone else is going to get a lot of people’s business because there’s a sizable group of folks out there who simply don’t have the time, vehicle, strength, expertise or desire to do all those tasks.

The “haul it to the car” store’s staff members are stove experts, yet they’re hamstrung by inane management policy.

Down the street, there’s a full service store. For an extra two hundred bucks ($200, not $2000, as the print column indicated), they’ll bring the stove to your home, remove the old stove and take it to the dump (if necessary), install the new stove and, if needed, hook up the gas, install an exhaust port and stove pipe. Note that if a gas fireplace or free standing stove is involved, a certified plumber has to hook up the gas.

Naturally, the full service stores also provide warranty and repair service for the stoves. Now, if you do this properly, it’s a predictable income stream.

How would it work? During the winter (stove use) months, you offer to check on the stove at least once in the middle of the season, plus a beginning of season and end of season check. 3 visits, say $99 per year (you figure out what price makes sense for your business).

You sell this as an upsell during the purchase. Some folks will buy, some won’t – but if you are a full service store, you already have the staff so you may as well accept the cash flow.

Here’s the secret that many people miss: Because you are there 3 times a year (or whatever) to check, adjust, clean and do any quick repairs – you are their stove shop. Who do you think will be called when they need repairs, build a new home, need help with a stove, have a friend who needs a referral for a stove? You. You are the one regularly visiting their home to take care of their stove, keeping it functional and safe.

We recently had the same experience when replacing a gas kitchen stove. One store was the put-it-in-your-car-and-wave store. The other store offered delivery, installation by a certified plumber, and removal of the old stove.

Nowadays, many stoves are dual-fuel: the range is gas, the oven is electric. Not only do you need plumbing skills to install the stove, you must also have electrician skills. You may even have to install a new plug/wiring for higher voltage.

Which is more attractive to your clients? No service, or full service?

Which kind of store do you run?

PS: Remember that store that doesn’t offer installation? They’ve closed. Was it Home Depot, the economy, or something else? You decide.
Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at

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