The fact is, "training" the customer on how to clean their own equipment does them a tremendous disservice. Why? Because the customer will never do it, but now that you've reassured them that they do know how to do it and always have the option of doing it when and if they get around to it, it will never get done. You can prove this to yourself by looking over your own equipment!
Of course, even if they do try and maintain their own equipment, there is the very serious risk of customers damaging the equipment or injuring themselves. Regardless, the consequences of both are expensive.
Make it a point to clean every piece of equipment you touch, both on the inside and the outside, and you'll see an increase in your average dollars per service call, fewer callbacks, more service agreements sold, and more satisfied customers.
Your boss will be happier too, because you'll be generating more profits for the company.
What about the impatient customers you feel you're losing while you're out there cleaning equipment? Well, what about the customers (and profits) you're losing through callbacks? What about the revenues (and profits) you're missing by not cleaning the equipment (and charging for it?) An additional thought is, what about the customer's inconvenience of having to wait around for you to come back out again when they're already waited once?
Some techs insist they don't have the time, that they're too rushed to clean equipment. Let's talk about whether or not you've got the time. I was working with a guy recently who jokingly said, "Let's hurry up and get this done so we'll have the time to do it again right later."
On the average, during the busy season, how much of your day is taken up with callbacks? If you're like most techs, whether you're causing them or not, you're probably running more than one callback per day. I'm speaking from experience here. I'm not the most technically proficient tech out there, but since I do a routine p.m. on nearly every call, I have almost zero callbacks.
More and more techs are beginning to realize that if you don't do the p.m. while you're there, you're going to come back to do it later, possibly even for free. You save time, even during the busiest season, by doing it while you're there.
So what am I saying, turn business away to clean equipment? That's a good question, but I don't feel it's valid. Here's a more valid question: if I'm running a call, and I'm doing work I'm being paid to do and I'm getting along with the customer, why on Earth would I want to leave to drive clear across town to start all over again with someone else who might not even be there or doesn't pay? Ever heard of the old saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?"
Now that I've said all that, I will say that there is one situation in which it's okay to tell your customers you'll do enough to get it running today and that it will be cleaned in a day or two. That would be in the rare combination of circumstances where there is a temperature extreme and you're loaded with billable calls, and your company has an experienced precision tune-up specialist who does nothing but go around cleaning equipment and is able to come out and do the maintenance within a day or two.
In that case and in that case only, I have found customers have not had a problem with buying the agreement from me while I was there, so they could get the discount on that day's repair work, and having another tech who specializes in cleaning come out and do that work in a day or so.