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4 Mistakes that Drive Service Agents Crazy

From installation problems to warranty equipment misuse and abuse, here’s what service agents want you to know about the issues that make work tougher for everyone.

To start, this title probably comes on a little strong. The men and women who run service agencies are businesspeople, after all. They genuinely appreciate their customers and know the success of their agencies is due to the operators who call them and the supply chain partners that work alongside them.

It’s just some issues can get under their skin. Problems that come up again and again. Headache-inducers that could be done away with through a bit of education. In the end, they know that if operators take the time to learn about and avoid these issues, everyone, from rep to dealer to operator to service agency, will save time, money and plenty of aggravation.

Mistake No. 1: Not Thinking Through Installation Early Enough

Plenty of equipment problems begin during installation, or even before, when placing the order.

Some of the biggest problems arise from the most basic issues, service agents say. When ordering a piece of equipment, the operator, dealer and even the rep need to ensure the utilities for that item match the facility. The wrong voltage or natural gas type can stop an install in its tracks. While the supply chain has to deal with the problem, an install appointment halted by these issues also becomes an issue for service agents, says Scott Hester, president of Texas-based Refrigerated Specialist Inc. (RSI) and Cooking Equipment Specialists (CES). An install that can’t be completed still incurs costs in man-hours, after all.

Even when the right equipment is ordered, problems can still arise. One issue, says Wayne Stoutner, CEO of upstate New York service agency Duffy’s AIS, is simply defining what an installation covers.

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Liz Weston: Beware high-risk homes that drive up insurance

When house hunting, the price of homeowners insurance probably isn’t top of mind. But homes with hidden risks can make getting coverage difficult, expensive or both. Learning how to identify them could save you a bundle.

This could be a particularly important concern for first-time homebuyers and those moving from cities to suburban or rural areas who may not be aware of common hazards, says Jennifer Naughton, risk consulting officer for North America for Chubb, an insurance company.

Three out of 10 city dwellers told a Chubb survey in early August that they were considering moving out of the city because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the number of first-time homebuyers in the first half of 2020 rose 4% compared to a year earlier as lower interest rates made mortgages more affordable, according to Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

WHERE’S THE NEAREST FIRE HYDRANT?

A homeowners insurance premium can depend in part on distance to the nearest fire hydrant and fire station, Naughton says. Homes that are on narrow roads or otherwise difficult for fire trucks to access also could be more expensive to insure.

“If they have to cross over a bridge, it’s not only a consideration of can a car go over that bridge, but also can a fire engine,” she says.

Some homes are at such high risk of wildfires and severe weather — hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms and hail — that private companies won’t insure them. Without insurance, you can’t get a mortgage, so you’d need to turn to state-run risk pools such as Beach and Windstorm Plans or Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plans, better known as FAIR. These policies typically cost more and cover less than regular homeowners insurance.

Also, many homeowners policies in storm-prone areas have hurricane deductibles that are higher than the normal deductible,

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Beware high-risk homes that drive up insurance

When house hunting, the price of homeowners insurance probably isn’t top of mind. But homes with hidden risks can make getting coverage difficult, expensive or both. Learning how to identify them could save you a bundle.

This could be a particularly important concern for first-time homebuyers and those moving from cities to suburban or rural areas who may not be aware of common hazards, says Jennifer Naughton, risk consulting officer for North America for Chubb, an insurance company.

Three out of 10 city dwellers told a Chubb survey in early August that they were considering moving out of the city because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the number of first-time homebuyers in the first half of 2020 rose 4% compared to a year earlier as lower interest rates made mortgages more affordable, according to Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

WHERE’S THE NEAREST FIRE HYDRANT?


A homeowners insurance premium can depend in part on distance to the nearest fire hydrant and fire station, Naughton says. Homes that are on narrow roads or otherwise difficult for fire trucks to access also could be more expensive to insure.

“If they have to cross over a bridge, it’s not only a consideration of can a car go over that bridge, but also can a fire engine,” she says.

Some homes are at such high risk of wildfires and severe weather — hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms and hail — that private companies won’t insure them. Without insurance, you can’t get a mortgage, so you’d need to turn to state-run risk pools such as Beach and Windstorm Plans or Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plans, better known as FAIR. These policies typically cost more and cover less than regular homeowners insurance.

Also, many homeowners policies in storm-prone areas have hurricane deductibles that are higher than the normal deductible,

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DIY Boom Continues to Drive Demand for Home Improvement Stores

Home improvement stores are on track to permanently land in the essential services or daily needs category, which retail investors have focused on for years. This year, home improvement activity has increased dramatically, and 40% of consumers have indicated that they plan to continue home improvement projects beyond the recession, according to research from the NPD Group. The activity has driven home improvement store sales up 11% this year.

During the pandemic, home improvement stores have become the second fastest growing retail segment in both brick-and-mortar and online sales. In lawn and garden, tools, paint, kitchen and bath and hardware segments, each saw a double-digit increase in both online and in-store purchases. The average shopping trip also increased 10% compared to the average trip in 2019.

Home Depot Versus Lowe’s

Placer.ai, which also looked closely at shopping trends in the major home improvement brands, found that Lowe’s saw an early surge in sales in April, up 14.1% for the month. Home Depot on the other hand, didn’t see an increase in sales until May, when activity jumped 26%. In the same month, Lowe’s continued to outperform its competitor, seeing a 46.6% increase in sales. Lowe’s has continued to outperform Home Depot through the pandemic, although both have seen significant increased in activity and the gap narrowed. Notably, significant sales growth continued in June and July, well after home improvements’ normal peak season.

A Long Term Trend

Weekly visits have continued to show strong sales, all the way through early August, the most recent data available. According to Placer.ai, this indicates that the home improvement trend could be long term, as the NPD Group data also suggests. The activity has been driven in part by the fact that people are staying at home more, as well as by homeowners that may

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Neighbor stays to help homes from burning on Mountain Hawk Drive in Santa Rosa

One resident of the Skyhawk Community in east Santa Rosa sent his family away Sunday night but vowed to stay and protect his home and those of neighbors.

Jas Sihota, 49, a radiology technician at Kaiser Permanente, worked to help save four neighborhood homes using garden hoses.

“I’m no cowboy, I just didn’t want to lose my house,” he said.

Sihota knew the situation was dire when he saw his maple tree bending from the wind Sunday night. Beyond that, he saw a completely red sky.

He told his family to leave and he remained, as he said he had done in previous evacuations for the Tubbs and Kincade fires.

Seeing embers the size of golf balls, Sihota sprayed the roofs of his house and several others before flames arrived. Later, he said, he saw fences and landscaping catch fire and doused them.

At least a dozen homes were destroyed in the Skyhawk Community, the bulk of which on the stretch of Mountain Hawk between Brigadoon Way and Nighthawk Drive.

Sihota’s home survived and he has remained in the neighborhood despite power being out. He purchased a whole home generator last year to power his house.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or [email protected] On Twitter @kfixler.

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